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

Now celebrating its 69th 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 or YouTube 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
- 2-3 high-res images from the film (not posters)
- 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 Division 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
  • Joshua Jaillet

    The CIF+AF has been rightly praised for their 2020 efforts - the pandemic hasn't made life any easier this year, but the event's organizers did a great job moving their inclusive festival online and it was exciting to take part with our film "The Mechanical Dancer." Thanks for selecting us, and our very best to the programming team, fellow participants, and viewers out there.

    August 2020
  • Lorenzo Monti

    The CIFAF team has marvellously adapted to the 2020 extraordinary situation. Tremendous energy and top-notch organisation. Thanks for fulfilling your mission and building an amazing community around filmmaking.

    May 2020
  • Dan Edwards

    We were honored to be part of the 2020 Columbus International FF. While they had to change to format to be exclusively on line due to Covid 19, we were able to participate in a virtual Q and A and enjoyed interacting with the other filmmakers. Given the circumstances, everyone at the Columbus International FF did a great job.

    May 2020
  • As everyone has said, COVID-19 put a dent in this year's fest by having it head online (as it has done to the most of everything in 2020), but CIFAF did an excellent and jaw-dropping job at moving the whole fest online within one month.
    Communication was on-point during the entire switch, and the team made sure to put its selected filmmakers on display and in ways to get our film's out there. It was a truly excellent experience, enjoyed from home.
    Can't wait to see what they get up to next year. Thank you!

    May 2020
  • Arapuá Filmes

    The Covid-19 really spoiled everybody's plans, but the amazing people at Columbus International Film & Animation Festival made us all feel very welcomed online and it created the best environment possible for our screenings and debates. I hope to bring all my future films to a festival with this kind of commitment to the community.

    April 2020