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 we have to follow New York City's guidelines in regards to Covid19 safety. If we are not allowed to have an in person event, 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 August 6, 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
  • Peter Meng

    They put on a great festival during these rough times. The next best thing to being there. Very well thought out. I've been in a bunch of "on-line" festivals this year and I have to say that this one sets the standard.

    October 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
  • Eric Schleyer

    What a great festival + festival staff! Communication was amazing, they really showed that they cared about us filmmakers and our films. They made an excellent pivot from a physical festival to a digital festival due to the pandemic. One of the bright lights of 2020! Keep up the great work! We're so proud that Beer Boom won best feature documentary! Cheers!

    October 2020
  • Was super impressed with their communication and ability to pivot to virtual. Also appreciated how much the creators actually cared about us and it makes me happy that they plan to put on an event where we can all show up in the flesh when it's safe.

    October 2020
  • Francisco Solorzano

    5 stars all around! One of the best, most inclusive film festivals around. I highly recommend submitting and checking out all the films they support. Truly honored to have been a part of the fest as a filmmaker two years in a row!

    October 2020