Our festival by the sea has gained a reputation for fostering a relaxed atmosphere where filmmakers and industry veterans alike gather to enjoy a jam-packed weekend of great films, parties and amusement park rides. MovieMaker Magazine named us one of the and "25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" and "25 Coolest Film Festivals"!

Coney Island's independent spirit and irreverent attitude have helped the fest quickly thrive as something distinct from other NYC events. The opening night celebrations pay tribute to Coney Island's renown carnival history with live performances by sideshow freaks, sword swallowers, fire eaters and stars of the New York City burlesque scene!

Early in 2001, the non-profit arts organization Coney Island USA aligned with indiefilmpage.com founder Rob Leddy to create an annual film festival, to raise funds for the not for profit arts organization, Coney Island USA. That fall, the Coney Island Film Festival became a reality.

The festival is entirely run by film, television and audio/visual professionals, ensuring a high quality standard to the event.

Coney Island's characteristic blend of grit and whimsy has inspired filmmakers for generations. From Thomas Edison's first magical motion pictures of the Steeplechase ride to 2010 Festival Honoree Darren Aronofsky's harrowing masterpiece Requiem for a Dream, Coney has a long and intimate history with American cinema. CIFF represents the latest chapter in that history. The Coney Island Film Festival screens a truly eclectic range of films and, much to the delight of our audience, features a number of "Made in Coney Island" productions each year. Our festival screens films from all genres. We are as diverse as the neighborhood that we represent.

The festival's ties to carny culture are undeniable. The main screening venue is the legendary Sideshows by the Seashore theater, home to America's last authentic 10-in-1 sideshow. Eighteen years ago, the festival expanded to include a second venue, the equally funky and historic Coney Island Museum. Our closing night ceremony takes place at the historic Eldorado Bumper Cars, where once the final award is presented, all in attendance, get to ride the bumper cars for free!

Now in our 21st year, The Coney Island Film Festival has gained a solid reputation from filmmakers and film fans. Check out our FilmFreeway reviews to read quotes from filmmakers and to see our photo galleries (all photos courtesy of Norman Blake).

The 2021 plan is to present the event in person at Coney Island in September, however if there are Covid 19 concerns, the festival will move to a Virtual Platform.

"Without a doubt, The Coney Island Film Festival has the greatest location in the world. It also gives out the best trophy I've ever received." Darren Aronofsky (Director Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream, Pi)

"A showcase worthy of the neighborhood's amusement-rich history." - Christopher Zara, MovieMaker magazine

Each selected film, gets two all access passes, amusement park ride tickets and admission to parties.

The festival jury will present awards to films and videos selected as best in these categories: Drama Short, Comedy Short, Feature, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Horror, Sci-Fi, Music Video, Experimental, Animation and "Made in Coney Island", The award is a hand painted plaque, from world renowned Coney Island Sideshow Banner Painter, Marie Roberts.

Entries must be submitted via FilmFreeway's online screener option. Foreign language work must be dubbed or subtitled in English. Entry fees are non-refundable. We have no film premiere requirements or date of completion requirements.

All entries will be viewed by the selection committee. All entry fees are non-refundable. Selected films will be announced on or around August 14, 2021. All entrants will be notified by email. The festival does not pay rental/screening fees for submitted/selected work. For selected films, exhibition file format is .mp4, h.264, 1920x1080, stereo.

A festival jury will present awards to films and videos selected as best in category.

For more information email us at info@coneyislandfilmfestival.com. We will respond within 24 hours.

Terms and Conditions:
I have carefully read and understand the complete rules of the festival. By entering your film for consideration for the 2021 Coney Island Film Festival, you authorize that your work is cleared for festival screening and accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. Entry into the festival constitutes permission to screen your work at the 2021 Coney Island Film Festival. The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless the Coney Island Film Festival, indiefilmpage.com, Coney Island USA and any other agents, owners and employees of said entities from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Spencer Holden

    Despite 2020 making the Film Festival a virtual experience it was a real pleasure and honor to be a part of such a historical venue.

    December 2020
  • Colleen Brady

    Despite the challenges of 2020, the festival organized a fantastic line-up, and they were very communicative to the filmmakers. I really enjoyed all the films and had a blast on the Q&A. Highly recommend submitting; I will be next time!

    November 2020
  • The Jerry Farley

    With the task of it all being online in 2020 and still being fun and well organized... I am mighty impressed

    November 2020
  • Gabriel Garton

    It was a joy and privilege to participate at this year's Coney Island Film Festival. And it was an absolute honor to be awarded the best documentary award. The attention to detail given to each filmmaker is unmatched. They truly make you feel seen and heard. And you can't beat local, independent cinema, which is highlighted in every category. Obviously, the 2020 festival was a stark contrast to years before (and I have been to many), but I was so impressed with how CIFF handled moving the entire festival online. The screenings and filmmaker Q&A's, and the awards went off without a hitch. Do not hesitate to submit your film to CIFF.

    November 2020
  • tamika guishard

    Rob and his team pulled out all the stops during COVID. Eric was one of the best moderators I'd ever interfaced with and the block that they'd curated was truly unique. Rob, with a cajillion things on his plate, was so attentive and transparent throughout this whole pandemic ride. As official as everything was, the festival and its community still felt very homey, which was really nice. Kudos! I look forward to next time and congratulate filmmakers and team once more!!

    October 2020