The Columbus International Film & Animation Festival is the oldest film festival in the United States.

Now celebrating its 73rd year, the festival introduces central Ohio to the best independent filmmakers from around the world.

Through the years, the festival has honored thousands of films, filmmakers, and producers. The festival’s awards remain a revered prize for industry professionals, but the organization is equally passionate about supporting independent film. The juried competition focuses on rewarding the world’s best films, regardless of origin, while the festival serves to promote and screen more and more films every year.

In addition to the prestigious Presidential Award, there are jury-selected awards in select categories and other distinctions. These awards are not limited by division, so all filmmakers are in consideration for these awards.

Secure Online Screeners (Vimeo, DropBox, or other file sharing links) are the preferred submission method. However, if you chose to submit on DVD (Region 0 or 1), please send 2 copies with your application, and be sure to include your title, name, running time, and FilmFreeway # on the disc. If using a Vimeo or YouTube link, please include your link at the top of the cover letter section of your FilmFreeway submission.

• Films must be a Columbus premiere.

• If accepted, filmmakers will need to provide the following:
- A digital copy of their completed film
- Name of film
- Director's name
- Run time
- Synopsis
-1 Landscape oriented Poster
-1 Portrait oriented Poster
- Photo credit information (who you would like those photos to be credited to)
- Film or director's Twitter handle (optional)
- Film website (optional)

• Entry title, name of entrant, and FilmFreeway tracking number must be on all materials and containers.

• Separate applications are required for each film — even if one entity is submitting more than one film.

• Any incoming shipping, wire, banking, or other charges will be billed back to the entrant and must be paid before the entry is eligible for competition.

• Please let us know if your email address changes between the time of receipt of entry and notification of results. Otherwise, you will not be advised of or receive any award you may have won.

• All winners will receive customized laurels suitable for print and/or web usage. All winners will also receive awards in person or by mail. (If you cannot attend, please provide a mailing address, and we'll send the award to you.)

• Liability: Although every possible care will be taken with your entry materials while in our possession, we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage. Do not send any original materials.

• Entries into the Student Section of the festival must provide proof of eligibility (student ID) upon request.

• Re-entry: Entries from previous Columbus International Film & Animation Festivals are eligible for this year’s competition if they are a revision, or entered in a different division than the original submission.

• English Language: All entries must have audio essential to the message on an English language soundtrack or English subtitles. An English translation script is not an acceptable substitute with the exception of foreign student entries.


• The Best of Category winners will be considered for the Best of Festival Award. A special panel will determine this special award.

The following criteria are applied during the judging process:
- Target audience
- Credibility
- Purpose
- Organization and development
- Concept and creativity
- Technical proficiency


The entrant has full rights to submit the entry and authorize its use.

Promotion Rights: Producers or distributors who enter the festival grant permission for their entries to be presented at any festival screening or event unless we are otherwise notified at the time of entry.

Publicity: Images, trailers, and reproducible still images may be used in festival programs and publicity materials, including for use by media.

Archives: We keep the winning entries for the festival's archives.

Entrant has read and agrees to abide by all festival rules.

Overall Rating
  • Clara Lehmann

    Filmmakers beware. We were so excited to have our film accepted at the Columbus International Film & Animation Festival. We immediately responded to the acceptance email with a few questions to help with marketing/pr. A few days later we received instructions on how to deliver our film. We uploaded everything immediately in their portal, receiving an email confirmation.

    We also replied that we'd have to only do in-person given ongoing distribution negotiations and would therefore have to decline the online portion of the event. With only a few days before the event we received an email that they would not be showing the film since they never received it. After mentioning that we had confirmation of the upload they were open to us uploading again. Which we did. After that we never heard back, did not see our film programmed online, and have not heard back from the festival since.

    It's worth mentioning the website for the festival was not updated until very soon before the screenings. We never found a time of day for our screening and were unable to properly market the event on behalf of our film and the festival. Even if we were able to, only having two weeks or so to promote is cutting it much too close.

    It's worth noting that we appreciate the challenges that go into running a festival. We are also grateful for this organization's desire to support and promote independent film and animation. All of that said we felt it important to share our honest experience for future filmmakers and artists to be aware of. We're hopeful the team can make improvements for future iterations of this event.

    May 2024
  • Hique Montanari

    My feature film YONLU was selected for the 2022 edition of the Festival, with its successful 70 years, and we are very happy to be part of this important and commemorative date of this great cinematographic event! Congratulations!

    May 2022
  • Obadiah Baker

    What an honor to have my film screen at the nation's oldest film festival. Despite the ongoing constraints of the pandemic, I found this experience to be both enriching and memorable. I hope viewers enjoyed my film, The Shadow Between US (2022), featuring the Silhouettes from America's Got Talent.

    April 2022
  • Eddie Shieh

    I've had the fortune of screening with Columbus a handful of times and what's not to like? I hope to be back again. Thank you and everyone be safe!

    May 2021
  • Attila Rostas

    It is an amazing experience and honor being selected at the oldest US Film Festival. We are aware of the hardship making a festival happen in the middle of the pandemic. Thank you forever!

    April 2021