CIFF49 (2025) Call for Entries is now OPEN!

The 49th Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF) will take place March 26 - April 5, 2025 in person at Playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland, OH.

At this time, details about CIFF49 Streams (the virtual/online component of CIFF) are yet to be determined. We will update this page and notify all selected films in the festival as we have news.

CIFF is excited to return to the beautiful and iconic Playhouse Square - the largest performing arts district in the U.S., outside of New York City. All Festival details (including dates, format, and venues) are subject to change.

CIFF49 will consist of hundreds of films, post-film conversations and Q&As with filmmakers, balloting, and over $135,000 in cash awards.

CIFF is committed to offering screening fees or travel assistance for all feature and short films accepted into the Festival. We are happy to report that CIFF continues to be one of the few Academy Award®-qualifying festivals in the world for all three categories of shorts films—live action, animated, and documentary. CIFF accepts films of any runtime, any genre, and from every country.

As always, CIFF will provide written feedback for paid submissions from our Screening Team—a diverse volunteer committee of nearly 200 film enthusiasts assembled from our audience base, ranging from industry professionals to local film students. CIFF is also happy to once again offer submission waivers to any CIFF alum whose current film meets the CIFF49 requirements.

For all questions related to submissions, please see our Terms and Conditions below, visit the Call for Entries FAQs on clevelandfilm.org, or email submissions@clevelandfilm.org.

We thank you for sharing your films with us!

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW:

*PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL THEATRICAL SCREENINGS AT CIFF49 WILL BE IN DCP (FEATURE AND SHORT FILMS).* Thus, all invited films will be required to send a DCP file for exhibition.

*Films whose productions were completed after June 1, 2023, are eligible for submission to CIFF49.

*If your submission is INCOMPLETE (including missing, invalid, and expired uploads, links or passwords) our submissions team will email to notify you. You will then have one week to rectify the issue, after which your submission will be DISQUALIFIED and will not be considered for the next festival.

*In order to be eligible for participation in CIFF49, films must NOT have been exhibited in person within the Greater Cleveland area, as CIFF requires a CLEVELAND PREMIERE at the least. Films also must not be available publicly online prior to our next festival dates. Films that have been previously screened online in an official ticketed-festival capacity are eligible for CIFF49 submission, as long as they have not been made available to audiences in the Greater Cleveland area.


CIFF currently has 14 competitions for feature films and 20 competitions for short films, and we're always expanding our awards program. At CIFF48 we gave away over $135,000 in cash awards!

Terms and Conditions

By submitting your film for consideration to the 49th Cleveland International Film Festival (“CIFF49” or “Festival”) in accordance with the procedures outlined below, you acknowledge that you have read, understood, and voluntarily agreed to abide by these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions.

Festival Details

The Cleveland Film Society, an Ohio nonprofit organization d/b/a The Cleveland International Film Festival (“CIFF”), will hold CIFF49 from March 26-April 5, 2025 (in person).

CIFF values the health and safety of all Festival participants, audience members, staff, and volunteers and takes their well-being seriously. To protect audience, filmmaker, staff, and volunteer health and safety and comply with any applicable orders or guidelines issued by federal, state, or local authorities, CIFF reserves the right to cancel CIFF49; institute rules governing in-person participation at CIFF49, such as theater- or event-capacity limits and face-covering requirements; or revise the dates, location, and in-person format of CIFF49 at any time, including, but not limited to, after having accepted films for screening during the Festival. CIFF reserves the right to hold CIFF49 as an entirely online event if CIFF, in its sole discretion, determines that circumstances so require. CIFF is committed to communicating any changes to the CIFF49 program to applicants, participants, and audience members in a timely manner via its website and/or direct communication with filmmakers.

Submissions

All filmmakers or other film-rights holders who submit films for consideration for CIFF49 (“Applicants”) must do so using FilmFreeway. CIFF is not responsible for any claims brought by Applicants if films are pirated from FilmFreeway's platform. As FilmFreeway users, all Applicants therefore agree to be bound by the FilmFreeway Terms of Service for Filmmakers, Screenwriters, and Non-Festivals (https://filmfreeway.com/page/terms-of-service). If any provisions of these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions conflict with the FilmFreeway Terms of Service, then these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions will control.

All films submitted to FilmFreeway must be in the form of an online-screener or Vimeo link. If a link is password protected, then the password must be valid through April 6, 2025, otherwise your submission will be considered INVALID and will be DISQUALIFIED with no entry-fee refund. For further guidance on the process of submitting your film for CIFF49 consideration, please visit CIFF’s Call for Entries FAQs.

Once your film has been submitted via the CIFF49 FilmFreeway portal, it is your responsibility to check your FilmFreeway account to ensure that your submission meets CIFF’s requirements; that you have provided all necessary information to CIFF; and that your film has been accepted by CIFF for consideration. Within one week after your submission date, CIFF will send you an email confirming that it has received your submission and, if applicable, requesting any further information needed from you.

Eligibility

Films whose productions were completed after June 1, 2023, are eligible for submission to CIFF49.

In order to be eligible for participation in CIFF49, films must NOT have been exhibited in person within the Greater Cleveland area, as CIFF requires a Cleveland premiere at the least. Films that have been previously screened online in an official ticketed-festival capacity are eligible for CIFF49 submission, as long as they have not been made available to audiences in the Greater Cleveland area.

All films under 45 minutes in length are considered short films. Films between 45 and 150 minutes can be submitted to either of our feature categories. Films over 150 minutes will not be accepted.

Please do not submit any works in progress or any industrial or instructional films.

Fees

Submission fees for CIFF49 increase over time. Early submissions are therefore encouraged. For further details, please see the Dates & Deadlines and Categories & Fees sections on CIFF’s FilmFreeway page.

CIFF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Fees collected through the Call for Entries process assist in our operations, so please do not request a waiver, unless you meet one of the following requirements.

If you are an Applicant who is also a CIFF Alum, meaning that CIFF has screened one of your feature or short films in a previous festival, then CIFF will waive your submission fee for any film meeting the CIFF49 requirements outlined herein.

To request an alumni fee waiver, please contact submissions@clevelandfilm.org.

Refunds

CIFF will not honor any requests for submission-fee refunds. Refunds will not be issued to any Applicant for any submission, regardless of selection for CIFF49, for any reason, including changes to CIFF49’s dates, venues, or format that CIFF may announce at any time.

Selection and Exhibition

Applicants whose works have been selected for inclusion in CIFF49 (“Participants”) will be announced by CIFF no later than February 28, 2025. Written feedback from our screening team will be provided post-festival for all films that pay to submit in full. If you would like to see your comments, you must email reviews@clevelandfilm.org between May 1 - June 1, 2025. No comments will be provided for those requested before May 1, 2025, after June 1, 2025 or for any films that submit with a waiver or discount.

All films (feature and short) must be available for theatrical exhibition as a DCP. For all films that will be participating in the potential online component of the festival, films must also be available as a .mp4 or other CIFF-approved digital file. 35MM, BLU-RAY, AND DVD ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE FORMATS FOR CIFF49 EXHIBITION.

Participants must upload all exhibition files electronically to CIFF’s secure-storage platforms, CineSend (in-person format) and Eventive (online format) . CIFF will not accept any exhibition files for CIFF49 that are submitted on a hard drive. CIFF is not responsible for any claims brought by Participants if films are pirated from CineSend and/or Eventive's platform. If you are a Participant and you upload your exhibition files to CineSend and/or Eventive, then you are a user of CineSend and/or Eventive and agree to be bound by the CineSend and/or Eventive Terms and Conditions ("CineSend Terms and Conditions", “Eventive Terms and Conditions”). If any provisions of these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions conflict with the CineSend and/or Eventive Terms and Conditions, then these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions will control.

Warranties and License

All Applicants and Participants warrant that they own the copyright to the film that they have submitted for CIFF49 consideration. Applicants and Participants further warrant that they have secured all necessary rights and clearances to exhibit their film during CIFF49; are authorized to accept these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions; and are authorized to grant CIFF a license to exhibit the film during the Festival. Participants hereby grant CIFF a non-exclusive license to exhibit their film during CIFF49.

Indemnity

All Applicants and Participants agree, to the extent permissible by applicable law, to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless CIFF and its directors, officers, employees, affiliates, licensees, and agents from and against any and all claims, losses, liabilities, demands, legal costs (including court costs and reasonable experts’ and attorneys’ fees), judgments, and other expenses that arise at any point in time, before, during, or after CIFF49, out of or on account of the Applicants’ or Participants’ involvement in CIFF49 and/or CIFF’s selection process for the same.

Choice of Law

These Filmmaker Terms and Conditions will be governed by the laws of the State of Ohio, without regard to its conflicts-of-laws principles, except those necessary to enforce the choice of applicable law; may be enforced only in a state or federal court sitting within Cleveland, Ohio, with respect to which court CIFF and the Applicants and Participants agree to personal jurisdiction and venue, further waiving any right to challenge venue; and is binding upon, and inures to the benefit of, CIFF’s and the Applicants’ and Participants’ successors, assigns, heirs, and personal representatives.

Severability

If any provision of these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions is determined to be invalid, illegal, or unenforceable, then that provision will not affect the enforceability of any other provision of these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions. Rather, the invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision shall be deemed severed from these Filmmaker Terms and Conditions, which will be enforced as if they did not contain the invalid, illegal, or unenforceable provision.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Vico Films

    Cleveland Film Festival is an incredibly friendly vibrant and exciting festival. Their team are so kind and helpful.
    We were honored to have our North American Premiere in Cleveland!

    May 2024
  • I am thrilled that my film Blueprint For My People had its World Premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF 2024). The festival was extremely well-run. Incredible pristine projection and sound in a beautifully restored theater. Film festival staff was awesome!

    May 2024
  • The Cleveland International Film Festival is one of the best festivals I have attended as a filmmaker. I was absolutely honored to have my film play during the comedy shorts 2 block at CIFF in 2024. The theaters at Playhouse square are amazingly beautiful and hold a large amount of people. They have really great communication leading up to the festival and are very kind and helpful with answering questions. The staff, volunteers, and local regular festival goers were so hospitable and genuinely happy to have all the filmmakers in their city. The level of films at CIFF were outstanding. I would definitely submit and attend again.

    May 2024
  • Irina Arnaut

    So honored for my short film to have its world premiere at Cleveland IFF. Gorgeous theaters, wonderful films. A very well organized festival with a lot of support and love for filmmakers. Thank you!

    April 2024
  • CIFF is such a great festival for filmmakers! They are so organized and hospitable, facilitate nightly meet-ups for the filmmakers, and rally a large audience of enthusiastic cinephiles for their programming. I've never seen such packed houses for shorts programs as I saw at Cleveland. The shorts programming team cares a lot about shorts as an art form, too, and as a platform for emerging filmmakers, and it's clear that much dedication goes into their selection. Thank you for making our film part of Cleveland this year!

    April 2024