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 7 years, CIFF has screened a blend of notable independent films alongside Oscar-nominated features and shorts. Films have included: C'mon C'mon, King Richard, Julia, 7 Days, PIG, Nomadland, I'm Fine-Thanks for Asking, Atlas, 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, Oscar nominated The Queen of Basketball, Please Hold, 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, honoring emerging talent, composers, cultural icons, humanitarians and legendary actors whose contributions have impacted the film industry in an indelible way.

Past honorees include; former Searchlight Co-Chair, Nancy Utley, Oscar-winning Composers, Alexandre Desplat, and Kris Bowers, 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, 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.

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 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, 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
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 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. or a streaming link. 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
  • An absolute gem of a festival. Do yourself a favor and submit! Incredibly well curated films, extremely organized, very filmmaker friendly, and the entire area came out to see the films. This was one of the highlights of our year and I can't wait to head back to Coronado in the future. Thank you to Merridee, Heather, Tara, and everyone else who made this week very special for The Andy Baker Tape. Coronado Island Film Festival is doing everything right!

    November 2021
  • Daniel Kennedy

    This film festival is fabulous. If you are a filmmaker, you should submit your film but also plan to attend. The festival features several expert panels with heavy-weights that are working, or have worked for Searchlight, Disney, Apple TV, Dreamworks and more. I met the cinematographer from Ironman, Black Widow and Guardians of the Galaxy. I met the costume designer from Apocalypto, Jo Jo Rabbit, and Avatar! I met the directors and producers of Pig, Far East Deep South, The Andy Baker Tapes and Zaida. The founder and executive directors truly loved and promote films and their makers. It was an honor to have my film Living Through It featured as a special engagement. Thank you CIFF!

    November 2021
  • Baldwin Chiu

    This was such a great festival for us. We got to see people again and they took great care of the benefactors and filmmakers. It's still tough to really network these days when people are not in full swing, but they still made the attempt and those that felt safe to join all seemed to enjoy the moments. As a filmmaker, I loved that audience members enjoyed the conversations and continued them after the screening. Beautiful new theater had a nice space, but had a reflection on the screen that moved as the sun went down. That's what happens when you can't test screenings for 18 months. I'm sure that will get resolved. I see this as a festival that could become a major one. With a great location and a city that fully supports the festival and dedicated volunteers, it's a festival I want to come back to.

    November 2021
  • Lalita Krishna

    I'd give this festival 7 stars or more if they were available. So very warm and welcoming. At the last minute I had to cancel my trip and couldn't be there to watch Bangla Surf Girls on the big screen with a live audience. But we felt your love and winning in two categories is the icing on the cake.

    November 2021
  • 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