Over the bridge from downtown San Diego, a world-class destination presents a world-class celebration for cinematic art! 2021 will mark the 6th Anniversary of the Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF)! 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 5 years, CIFF has screened a blend of notable independent films alongside Oscar-nominated features. Films have included: NOMADLAND, The Donut King, Kiss the Ground, The Capote Tapes, Billie, JoJo Rabbit, Marriage Story, Clemency, A Hidden Life, The Finest Hours, Darkest Hour, Green Book, ROMA, and The Favourite, One Child Nation, 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.

Mingle with industry leaders including our Host and Honorary Jury President, film critic, and author LEONARD MALTIN, whose Celebrity Tribute has become a festival highlight, honoring emerging talent, composers, cultural icons, humanitarians and legendary actors whose contributions have impacted the film industry in an indelible way. Past honorees include Cloris Leachman, Dean Cundey, John Toll, Lois Burwell, Diane Warren, Kris Bowers, Michelle Philips, Stephen Bishop, Alex Wolff, Andy Garcia, and Jacob Trembly.

Coronado’s Unique Film Legacy
Coronado’s enduring love affair with Hollywood began back in the earliest days of filmmaking when “movie people” were irresistibly drawn to the legendary 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, just this past year, Tom Cruise in the soon-to-be-released “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 who is in college, university, film/art school, or
institution of higher learning with an established film department.

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


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

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 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 Film Award(s) - $5,000:
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. The jury will select one grand prize film that will be awarded $2,000 and 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:

$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.


The festival only receives online submissions and all materials must be viewable online. The process is simple: you submit to the festival through FilmFreeway, pay your fee, and send CIFF a link to your film. 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. Once accepted into the festival, you will be advised as to the film format required.

All non-English language films must have English subtitles.

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. The festival requests DVD and/or Blu Ray disc back up copies to accompany all exhibition formats. 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.

Overall Rating
  • Connie Tais

    Excellent festival! Everyone is so nice and committed to the films and filmmakers. Wonderful selection of films. Highly recommended! Thank you to all the organizers.

    May 2021
  • Wonderful festival, on line this year, which demonstrated the lengths these film lovers will go to to make sure both film makers and attendees feel catered too. I was part of an on line documentary panel which allowed me to meet other film makers, and respond to questions from them and festival leadership that demonstrated careful viewing and a fine appreciation for my work. Thank you CIFF.

    December 2020

    Great communication/ Prizes and overall experience

    December 2020
  • Fantastic festival! They worked hard to allow for audience and filmmaker engagement. We are honored that they screened our film, "We Left As Brothers", and we look forward to sharing future projects with them.

    December 2020
  • An absolutely stellar experience! The Coronado Island Film Festival should be on everyone's submission list. They treat films and filmmakers with care and deep respect – and at the same time, manage to extend a hospitality and friendliness second to none. Their Jury is comprised of industry professionals and is headed up by Leonard Maltin! Seriously, what more can you ask for? If I could give 6 stars I would. Oh, and by the way, they pulled this year off during a pandemic and still telescoped the elegance that Coronado Island is known for through online and virtual. Huge Kudos to Merridee, Doug, Peggy and everyone at this amazing festival.

    December 2020