Our commitment and focus this year remains on our core mission of supporting independent filmmakers--YOU! At this time we are planning to host a very modified festival. It will be a hybrid of virtual screenings, and "live" socially distant outdoor screenings and events. We will be honoring our cash awards in various categories and look forward to reviewing your film. We remain flexible and fluid so that if needed we can implement any changes to our programming schedule per COVID mandates and to the health and safety regulations of our local and state leadership. If you have any question regarding our festival please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly!

Over the bridge from downtown San Diego, a world-class destination presents a world-class celebration for cinematic art! 2020 will mark the 5th Anniversary of the Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF)! We invite filmmakers from across 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.


CIFF has screened a blend of notable independent films alongside Oscar-nominated features. Past films have included: JOJO RABBIT, Marriage Story, Clemency, A Hidden Life, One Child Nation, and 2020 Oscar-nominated Live Action short, Nefta Football Club and OSCAR Winner, The Neighbors' Window, The Finest Hours, 45 Years, Darkest Hour, Green Book, Roma, Widows, and The Favourite.

CIFF’s festival-goers applaud the vision of filmmakers who use film as a platform to educate, illuminate, and entertain the world. The four-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! 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 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 viewed by a qualified team of at least 3 screeners comprised of filmmakers, writers, actors, and veteran film aficionados. Film awards will be determined by a jury of industry professionals, including Oscar-nominated Producer Lisa Bruce, p.g.a. (“The Theory of Everything,” “Darkest Hour”) and Jim Gallagher, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Animation, and Family at Warner Bros. Entertainment.


Narrative Feature
Any genre. Must be at least 40 minutes and no longer than 180 minutes in length including credits.

Narrative Short
Any genre. Must be under 40 minutes in length including credits.

Documentary Feature
Non-fiction, any genre (historical, military, political, environmental, cultural, you name it). Must be at least 40 minutes and no longer than 180 minutes in length including credits.

Documentary Short:
Non-fiction, any genre. Must be under 40 minutes in length including credits

Animated Short: Any genre. Must be under 40 minutes in length including credits.

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.

Student Short must be under 40 minutes in length including credits
Student Feature must be at least 40 minutes in length including credits.
Documentary Short must be under 40 minutes - must be based on a non-fiction subject (historical, military, political, environmental, cultural, you name it)
Documentary Feature must be at least 40 minutes in length including credits - must be based on a non-fiction subject (historical, military, political, environmental, cultural, you name it)

CIFF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.


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

Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Animated Feature
Best Short Film

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

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
  • This is a great film festival! Coronado (San Diego) is magical. All the films were great and the audiences as well. Festival director Andy Friedenberg is very passionate about quality films and programming and it shows. Definitely submit to this one!

    February 2020
  • We loved our second time at Coronado Island Film Festival. The setting it awesome, the people were great and the quality and standard of films screened were fantastic! Thank you for having us - again! Until the next time.

    November 2019
  • Tony Macías

    This was a festival that is at once both cosmopolitan and intimate, a rare combination that allows for an indelible experience. The various events throughout the weekend provided many opportunities for networking as well as long lasting friendships among filmmakers from around the globe The volunteers were also very helpful, cheerful and pleasant. They all made you feel at home and part of this small and pleasant community. Thank you Coronado Island Film Festival for screening two of my short films "Conviction" and "Seismic Warning" and for putting together such a top-notch event. Cheers!

    November 2019
  • Richard Raymond

    Have shown short film work at this festival now for two years and despite the amazing location, dedicated staff and delightful volunteers, the exhibition quality for short films is consistently very poor. The films are shown in a high school black box theatre, projected from a compressed digital copy of a Blu-ray. The sound quality was even worse with the back L&R speakers missing so the surround sound kept cutting off during the films. Also when someone left the theatre the light from the door would shine on the screen and interrupt the films. It’s not really worth Filmmaker’s attending unless the festival change this and screen shorts in a cinema. The main local cinema has three screens yet only one is used for the festival.

    November 2019
  • Monique Sorgen

    Coronado is a really nice festival in a beautiful location. The community is nice, and the Jurors and Industry professionals are very accessible to filmmakers. I met a lot of good people who work in show business, both by attending the panels and at the Filmmaker party-- where I'd meet one person, and as soon as they found out I was a filmmaker, they'd introduce me to the next and the next. It's all very centralized, so once you park, you can leave your car for the day. My screening was full, and the audience was very engaged and enthusiastic-- furthermore, they have good taste, because they voted for our film "Sorry, Not Sorry" for the Audience Award for best Narrative Short. There's also a filmmaker lounge with cookies, and happy hour every afternoon. It's a fun time!

    November 2019