A Festival of Experimental, Essay, First Person, and Artists' Film

Cosmic Rays is an annual celebration of non-commercial short films that extend the idea of film as art. Cosmic Rays screens work that:

Experiments with the formal possibilities of film and video.

Explores hybrid forms and the hard-to-describe spaces between filmmaking modes and genres.

Speaks with a personal or poetic voice, or explores novel ways of telling stories.

Eschews convention and commerce.

Has utopian aspirations and weird friends.

Cosmic Rays is excited by filmmaking that expands our idea of what film is and what it can be.

The festival will take place March 5 & 6, 2020 at the historic Varsity Theater in downtown Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Cosmic Rays screens non-commercial short films that broaden the idea of film as art. We are looking for work that experiments with the formal possibilities of film and video; that explores hybrid forms and the hard-to-describe spaces between filmmaking modes and genres; that speaks with a personal or poetic voice, or explores novel ways of telling stories; that eschews convention and commerce; and that expands our sense of what film is and what it can be.

Cosmic Rays accepts films that are 15 minutes or less completed after Jan. 1st, 2018. There is a $8.00 submission fee. Please note: films over 15:00 minutes will not be considered for the program. Deadline for submissions is Dec 1st, 2019.

To submit a film, please provide a password protected streaming link (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). Your link and password should be available and valid until February 1st, 2020. We cannot accept DVD screening copies.

Selection results will be published on January 15th, 2020 on the festival website.
Cosmic Rays will notify the contact person of the selected work to deliver text, images, and video material for print, internet and promotion.

Due to the number of submissions, Cosmic Rays regrets that we can only notify applicants whose work is selected for the program.

Films selected for the program should be available as a digital file on a flash drive and sent to the festival by mail or courier at the filmmaker's expense. Drives will be returned to the filmmakers following the festival.

Screening copies should arrive at the Festival’s office by February 10th, 2020. Films that are not received by this date or that have technical difficulties may be unable to screen in the festival program.

Parcels containing flash drives arriving from abroad should be marked with: "For cultural purposes only, no commercial value". When sending by courier post outside the United States (DHL, FedEx, UPS), parcels must be accompanied by a pro-forma invoice amounting to a maximum of 20 USD.


Overall Rating
  • Britany Gunderson

    Cosmic Rays was such a great festival! Super welcoming to everyone, and their programming was so interesting and expansive. Honored to have been included and able to visit.

    March 2020
  • I love Cosmic Rays, wonderfully curated and an all around joy!

    March 2020
  • Sean Hanley

    A wonderful festival of experimental and avant-garde work! Run by some of the nicest folks in the cosmos.

    December 2019
  • Brittany Gravely

    Really wonderful festival with a strong program of experimental film!

    April 2019
  • Jenny Stark

    All of the programming choices are stellar as was the visit to Chapel Hill. The directors were fantastic: welcoming and fun to talk to. I also LOVE the fact that there weren't any overlapping programs.

    March 2019