Over the bridge from downtown San Diego, a world-class destination presents a world-class celebration for cinematic art! We invite filmmakers from across the US and around the globe to a festival that is at once both cosmopolitan and intimate, a rare combination that allows for an indelible experience that lasts long after the lights go up.


Over the past nine years, CIFF has evolved into San Diego's premier destination festival, where filmmakers and creatives connect with industry leaders and decision-makers in a relaxed, unpretentious setting.

We have screened a blend of notable independent films, SD Premieres, alongside Oscar-nominated features and shorts. 2023 SD Premieres; Past Lives, Fallen Leaves, May December, Maxine's Baby, Shayda, Common Ground, Deep Rising, Robot Dream, Eileen, and Taste of Things, 2022 Films included; Empire of Light, She Said (2022 CIFF Audience winner), Women Talking, The Inspection, Corsage, C'mon C'mon, King Richard, Julia, 7 Days, PIG, Nomadland, JoJo Rabbit, Marriage Story, Clemency, A Hidden Life, The Finest Hours, Darkest Hour, Green Book, ROMA, and The Favourite, Dealing with Dad, One Child Nation, The Donut King, Kiss the Ground, The Capote Tapes, Billie and River to name a few.

Our SHORTSFEST has regularly included Oscar + BAFTA nominees and winners, along with short list nominees! Including 2023 Oscar Nominee The Last Repair Shop, (Jury Winner Best Doc) 2022 Oscar nominated short list, Stranger at the Gate, Steak, Nuisance Bear, 2022 BAFTA nominated, Bus Girl (a CIFF 2022 Jury winner) 2021 Oscar winner The Queen of Basketball, 2021 Oscar shortlist, The Criminals, and 2020 Oscar-nominated Live Action short, Nefta Football Club and OSCAR Winner, The Neighbors' Window.

CIFF’s festival-goers applaud the vision of filmmakers who use film as a platform to educate, illuminate, and entertain the world. The five-day pedestrian-friendly festival offers a slate of more than 80 films cultivated from a diverse selection of genres, plus compelling panels, lively workshops, and of course, parties! Hosted over the Veteran's Day holiday, Coronado shares a special affinity for the military and we screen films that reflect the bonds of those who have served and sacrificed. Along with the military we celebrate films with a focus on women filmmakers + producers, inclusion and cultural stories, culinary cinema, student filmmakers, and our geographic location and our region's highly diverse demographic encourages an appreciation for Latin American and international films.


CIFF is an incredible opportunity to network with working industry professionals!
Offering MasterLab Workshops, filmmaker-only gatherings with our Jury members and Tribute honorees gives access to Oscar/Award-winning industry professionals who are defining the entertainment industry through their talent, innovation and creativity.

Mingle with industry leaders including our Host and Honorary Jury President, film critic, and author LEONARD MALTIN, whose Industry Tribute Gala Awards has become a festival signature event, recognizing above and below the honoring emerging talent, composers, cultural icons, designers, artists, humanitarians and legendary actors whose contributions have impacted the film industry in an indelible way.

Past honorees include; Diane Ladd, Paul Raci, Geena Davis, Ron Shelton, Jaqueline Bisset, Elegance Bratton, former Searchlight Co-Chair, Nancy Utley, Oscar-winning Composers, Alexandre Desplat, and Kris Bowers, Charles Fox, Oscar winning actor and civics activist, Richard Dreyfuss, Oscar-winning Director Chloé Zhao, Oscar-winning Cinematographers Dean Cundey, John Toll, and Gabriel Beristain, Oscar-winning Make Up Artist, Lois Burwell and Heba Thorissdotir Oscar-nominated Costume Designer, Mayes Rubeo, Oscar-nominated music legend, Diane Warren, and icons Michelle Philips and Stephen Bishop, actors, Alex Wolff, Andy Garcia, and Jacob Trembly and legacy actresses, Cloris Leachman and Ann Blyth, 4-time Pulitzer prize winner photojournalist, Carol Guzy, Disney animation legend, Andreas Deja

Coronado’s enduring love affair with Hollywood began back in the earliest days of filmmaking when “movie people” were irresistibly drawn to the legendary luxury and hospitality of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, the festival’s presenting sponsor, built at water’s edge in 1888. Coronado Beach is consistently ranked in the Top 10 destinations in the U.S. by numerous travel magazines and blogs. The island’s perfect weather and close proximity to Los Angeles have continued to make it a favorite Hollywood go-to spot since the days when industry pioneers such as Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin strolled the town’s avenues, followed in time by the likes of John Wayne, Billy Wilder, Marilyn Monroe and most recently, “Top Gun: Maverick.”


All submitted films will be reviewed by a qualified team of screeners comprised of filmmakers, writers, actors, and veteran film aficionados.

Jury Awards will be determined by various jury teams comprised of top industry professionals. Please see our festival website for more information on our esteemed jury members.

Audience Awards are recognized as those with the highest voting scores by festival audience members.

CIFF supports next-generation filmmakers!

All student filmmakers must have been enrolled as a student in high school or college, university, film/art school, or institution of higher learning with an established film department at the time the submitted film was made, and the film must have been completed within the last two years. When submitting a film online, the student filmmaker must provide the name and address of the school, and name and contact information of teacher, grade or educational level, and year when the film was completed.

Student work will be judged separately according to the filmmaker’s experience level depending upon whether the filmmaker was in high school or under, or a more advanced level such as college or post-graduate work.

I. Student Film – Advanced
A film in any genre made by a filmmaker that has been made as part of a student’s coursework or graduation requirement, within the curricular structure of the teaching institution. In other words, the film must be part of coursework that is under the guidance of a professor at the degree-granting institution where the student is enrolled.

II. Student Film – High School & Under
A film in any genre made by a filmmaker who is enrolled in high school or younger.


AUDIENCE AWARDS may include, but are not limited to, the following categories:

Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Short Film (Narrative + Documentary)
Best Animated Feature/Short
Best International Feature
Best International Short
Best Original Screenplay
Best Local San Diego Film (short or feature)

Investing in Filmmakers | Advocating for strong independent voices in film, CIFF offers numerous cash awards.

- The Emerald Award
- Dr. George M. Sanger Student Film Award(s)
- The Dale St. Denis Female Filmmaker Award(s)
- The Bardin Animation Award(s)

The EMERALD AWARD(s) - $5,000: Sponsored by Ken Fitzgerald and Ruby Carr. Any category. Awarded to the film or films that best portray the following: A person (or persons) who identifies a need or wrong, takes a risk, and works selflessly to promote peace, education, freedom from oppression, well-being, and/or protection of the planet and all that live upon it. A film that reminds viewers that each of us can be a force for good in the world. In the event of more than one winner in this category, the cash prize will be distributed among the winners at the judges’ discretion.

Dr. George M. Sanger STUDENT AWARDS - $5,000 (total)
Established in memory of the beloved Coronado physician who “always loved encouraging young people,” by his wife Blossom, and underwritten by daughter Wendy McGuire, and son in law Dev Purkayastha, CIFF is honored to present this award on behalf of the Sanger family.
$2000 will be awarded to the Jury Grand prize film.
The remainder of the prize funds will be divided at the discretion of our jury members regardless of category, representing the best of young, fresh, emerging film talent. In the event of more than one grand prize winner (jury tie), the cash prize will be distributed among the winners in an amount determined by the jury.

THE DALE ST. DENIS FEMALE FILMMAKER AWARDS-- $5,000: Donated in memory of Dale St. Denis, Coronado architect, artist, and staunch supporter of the women who brought CIFF to life, by his wife Doug St. Denis. Three cash prizes will be awarded for excellent achievement by one or more female filmmakers in any category: The prize funds may be divided in the case of a jury tie.

$2,000 - The Mary Pickford Award. For outstanding achievement in filmmaking.
Named for the industry pioneer whose vision, persistence and independent spirit took her from ingénue to major celebrity to producer of her own films, to co-founding United Artists studio.

$2,000 – The Fearless Female Filmmaker Award. For outstanding achievement by a female filmmaker who started with an idea, ran with it, and brought it to the screen for the rest of us to discuss, debate, and perhaps even shift our perception.

$1,000 – The Frances Marion Award. For outstanding achievement in screenwriting by a female. Named in honor of the legendary artist, director, and two-time Academy-Award winning screenwriter during Hollywood’s Golden Age.

This award celebrate the creativity and art of animation.
3000.00 Jury Grand Prize
2000.00 Jury Special Recognition



Awards winners will be announced at the annual Coronado Island Film Festival during our JURY AWARDS. We strongly encourage all finalists to attend in person. Winners will be announced live at the ceremony for the screenwriting competition.

All Finalists will receive 2 complimentary Screenwriter Badges to attend the festival, additional badges may be purchased for a discount.

A Grand total of $5,000.00 will be awarded

$2,000 Narrative Feature Jury Crown Award
$500.00 Jury Special Recognition

$2000 Limited Series Jury Crown Award
$500.00 Jury Special Recognition

No Reader feedback or notes will be given on the submitted scripts.
Screenwriters will only be notified if they have progressed to the next round for review.

All decisions by the Readers are final, and not open for negotiation.



The festival is honored that you have chosen to submit to CIFF for consideration. Every year the caliber of submissions becomes more competitive, and tough decions must be made.

The festival receives online submissions only and all materials must be viewable online. The process is simple: you submit to the festival through FilmFreeway. Please fill out all the required submission information. Streaming services such as Vimeo or YouTube are preferred. You will be notified via email when your film has been received and updated by email throughout the judging process if needed. Once accepted into the festival, you will be advised as to the film format required.

By submitting to the festival, you agree to allow your film (or other artistic work) to be screened by the festival during the festival run, for which you are submitting, at NO charge to the festival. If there are to be any additional screenings, it will be by mutual agreement between the filmmaker and the festival.

Screening Formats

CIFF uses various screening venues throughout the Festival. Acceptable screening formats vary by venue and may include (but are not necessarily limited to) DCP and Blu Ray disc. or a streaming link. The full expenses of a DCP will be the responsibility of the filmmaker-CIFF uses a preferred vendor for a minimal fee for all DCPs. By entering your film you agree to work with CIFF to provide compatible screening format(s) and backups.

All non-English language films must have English subtitles.

Marketing Materials:
Once your film has been accepted you will be notified by our film office with a link to provide the following information in an electronic press kit:

Production still photos
Director’s photo and biography/filmography
A short synopsis of the film
Credits list
All photos should be print-quality (300dpi) files.
CIFF Does not return any shipped promotional materials after the festival. This includes posters and postcards.

By submitting to the festival you are admitting copyright ownership of everything submitted. The festival reserves the right to disqualify any submission at any time if there is any question of ownership, copyright infringement or any sign of disrespect (in any form of media) to the festival or its representatives.

If your film is accepted into our festival, we ask that you will do your best to work with CIFF Programming team to have the film’s director and other key personnel (actors, writers, producers, etc.) attending the festival to present the film and interact with the festival audience.

The Coronado Island Film Festival is also hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes.

You shall also indemnify and hold harmless the Coronado Island Film Festival 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.

All fees are non-refundable. Dates and venues are subject to change.
All decisions are final.

CIFF does not respond to inquiries regarding films who were not accepted into the festival.
Good Luck!



We are thrilled you have submitted your script for consideration in our inaugural competition! This is not just another contest - CIFF is committed to creating a space for fresh perspectives, new voices and untold stories!


Submissions must be Narrative Features or a Limited-Series Pilot episode (TV/Streaming) 70-130 pages.

Script must be in industry standard format. Formatting is taken into consideration in judging. Font must be 12-point Courier or equivalent.

The screenplay must be written in English.

A title page containing the title, author's name, and contact info is recommended but not required. WGA Registration or Federal Registered Copyright is recommended but not required.

Multiple entries are permissible, but each entry must be accompanied by its own separate entry and entry fee.

Once a script has been entered, no substitutions of new drafts or corrected pages will be considered. You may submit a revised draft of your script, as a new submission and pay the appropriate entry fee applicable at the time of re-entry -- if so, your prior version will no longer be in competition.

Adaptations from other works are permissible provided you have the writer's written and legal permission to adapt the work.

Adaptations of works in the public domain are permissible.

Collaborative work is eligible, but both authors must be listed on the entry form. The writers are responsible for the distribution of the contest prize (s) between themselves if the script is awarded funds.

CIFF reserves the right to disqualify any submission for any reason. In case of disqualification, all fees will be returned to the contestant, and all submitted materials will be discarded.

The screenplay must not have been previously sold or produced for profit or currently under option.

Writer(s) understands and accepts without reservation that he/she is an independent contractor and CIFF is not responsible for withholding any taxes or payments to any government agency, at any level, be it state, local or federal, with regard to the prizes won as a result of this contest.

Writer(s) understands that it is his/her sole responsibility to register Material with the U.S. Copyright Office and/or with the Writer’s Guild of America. Writer(s) understands that the contest entry fee covers entry, consideration and judging of the material submitted and is non-refundable.

You should retain master copies of the submitted material. Any material we receive cannot and will not be returned under any circumstances. Scripts will be destroyed or deleted by CIFF at the end of the contest except prize winning entries which are promoted on our website in excerpt form. CIFF will not print your script in completed form on a public platform without permission.

CIFF is not responsible for late or lost submissions.

When your submission is received you will be notified by email only (in most cases the same day). Therefore, please provide a valid email address. If you do not hear from us within three days, send an email to: script@coronadofilm.com and include your name, address, phone number and title of your script to confirm we've received it.

If your email address and/or home address changes it is your responsibility to contact our office.

Permissions: By entering this contest and in the event you are declared a winner, or finalist, you understand and accept that we will be free to use your name and likeness for advertising or promotional purposes without additional consideration.

If you are a winner, finalist, you agree to give CIFF the permission to post on its website, your script's logline, synopsis and excerpts, and headshot. You have the option to include or exclude your contact information or a link to your website if applicable.

At any time during the contest, you are free to submit your screenplay to any other person, contest, producer, agent, and/or organization.

Entering this contest will not limit your copyright in any way. You retain all rights (100%) to your property.

No Reader feedback or notes will be given on the submitted scripts.
Screenwriters will only be notified if they have progressed to the next round for consideration.



Overall Rating
  • Brett Davis

    The Coronado Island Film Festival exudes a feeling of happiness.
    Friendly people in a small town atmosphere.
    It's like going back in time.

    February 2024
  • Lucas Pierce

    The CIFF is a really great film festival. The films were of excellent quality and the screenings were well attended. There were multiple interesting panels and fun parties/events to attend. The city of Coronado is an incredible location for a film festival. The mediator for the Q and A session was well prepared, asked very thoughtful and insightful questions, and did a really great job of leading an interesting discussion about the films in my block. It was an honor and an overall wonderful experience being a part of this festival and I look forward to attending again in the future.

    December 2023
  • Ashley Bratcher

    The Coronado Island Film Festival is a 5 star festival affair! The hospitality, atmosphere, and curation of films is top notch. This is a festival I highly recommend to any filmmaker and we plan to attend in the future whether we have a project in the lineup or not. This festival takes you back to the Golden Era of Hollywood both in feel and cinema. The panels are excellent and the intimacy of the networking opportunities allows you to create real relationships beyond the passing off of a business card. Two thumbs up all the way!

    November 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for the review and wishing you success on Pharma -

  • Rachel Hroncich

    I’ve been to and worked at many festivals. CIFF was top notch. Will definitely recommend it to all of my filmmaker friends. Even if it wasn’t set on idyllic Coronado Island, it would still be one of the best fests for its film selections, panels, networking events, and beyond helpful and supportive staff. So thankful I was able to attend!

    November 2023
    Response from festival:

    Rachel, Thank YOU for sharing your wonderful film with our festival it was so clever!

  • Ninette Sosa

    The time spent in Coronado was wonderful. It's not just the weather that's great but CIFF was well-organized, on point, and delivered from opening night bash to screenings. Thank you!

    November 2023
    Response from festival:

    Ninette, Thank YOU for creating a doc on our local icon Little Tommy! It was a story that really needed to be shared.