As the oldest independent film festival in Washington DC, the DC Independent Film Festival (DCIFF) has a storied history of presenting extraordinary films. We have showcased cutting edge features, animation, experimental, shorts and documentaries on every subject from every country with every budget and subject imaginable.

By exhibiting world premiere screenings, hosting timely seminars and workshops, and sponsoring discussions with the United States Congress, DCIFF gives independent filmmakers opportunities for their voices to be heard in a way that no other festival can provide. The festival includes a dedicated POLIDOCS section for controversial films that should be screened in the Nation's Capital and a high school film competition. We encourage local filmmakers to apply as well as those on the cutting edge of ideas, technology and energy worldwide.

DCIFF is a volunteer-run festival with an eighteen year track record. DCIFF is not a curated festival. With the exception of retrospectives and honorees, all films screened are chosen through the submissions process.

Our annual awards are:

Best of Fest
Best Feature
Best International Film
Best Documentary
Best Documentary Short
Best Short
Best Animation
Best of Metro DC
Best High School Student (a separate competition within the festival)

If sponsors donate products or cash for awards, we pass these on to our winners. Otherwise we give winners our unique festival award plaques. The high school competition has cash prize awards already set.

Submissions open from September 23 – December 12, 2017

We welcome submissions in the following categories:
◾ Narrative features
◾ Short films
◾ Documentaries (feature and short)
◾ Animation
◾Experimental; any length up to 2 hours in all categories
◾ High School Student Film Showcase and Competition (films up to 30 mins.) – Free Submission to December 2, 2017 deadline.
◾ Student Films (Please Note: Student films under 20 mins. are free up until October 14th, 2017 early submission deadline with a valid student I.D., but there is a fee for submissions from October 15th-December 12th, 2017.) Please note that we are strict on these deadlines.

We are open to films of any genre except adult films and in any language (with subtitles). We do not have a section dedicated to family films, but love films that appeal to the child in us all. We always have a horror film section, in honor of a genre that has been an important launching point for independent filmmakers. We have an excellent animation section and encourage animators working across all styles to submit their work.
DCIFF 2018 also welcomes open source films, art films and interactive films and the wide spectrum of documentary formats and issues including advocacy films.

Stipulations: We put a great deal of effort, time and attention into promoting the films selected for screening and competition and in this way, have aided many a filmmaker on the road to success, more success, awards, distribution and networking, but we can only do so if the following rules are followed:

Metro DC Film Premieres required (we do accept films that have had private screenings in DC), East Coast and US Premieres preferred; all films completed within one year of the date of submission to DCIFF; if your film is still in process we will accept submission but DCIFF will remove a film from final selection if it is not completed by the end of December 2017; while we have screened films that are available in their entirety for public viewing online, this is not our preference and we check every film we select accordingly. Our reasonable submission fees are entirely used to cover the cost of filmmaker support: press, screenings, seminars and outreach. DCIFF is a volunteer-run festival with an eighteen year track record.

Films must have been completed after November 1 2016.

Students - You must be a current student to qualify for submission in a Student category (include your current student id or a letter from a school advisor with your submission).

High School Students - For age 18 & under only! We will accept your film as a high school entry if you are a current high school student or graduated high school in the summer of 2017. Include your current high school ID or a letter from a school advisor with your submission.

DCIFF Alumni - To qualify for submission in an alumni category we must have screened one of your films in a previous DCIFF. Please include with your submission the title of the film screened and the year we showed it.

Films in Distribution: If you are a distributor or your film is ruled by a distribution contract, please make sure that you can screen this without a screening fee. DCIFF does not pay screening fees but we do everything we can to bring filmmakers and talent to attend the festival.

By submitting your film to DCIFF you are agreeing to the following conditions:

- I am authorized to submit this film to the Washington, DC Independent Film Festival for consideration and have read, understood and agreed to all entry requirements.
- I authorize DCIFF to post up to 3 minutes of all entries submitted on related websites for promotional purposes only.
- I understand that no film accepted for screening in competition at DCIFF may be withdrawn without the express written permission of DCIFF. In the event that a screening print is not delivered or in the case of technical issues, DCIFF reserves the right to screen publicly the DVD submission tape unless other arrangements have been made with you, the filmmaker.
- I release DCIFF from all responsibility for any and all film loss or damage. I understand that my submission copies will not be returned.
- I promise to contact DCIFF immediately regarding any changes to the information above, including Premiere status of my film or exhibition format. Failure to provide complete and updated information or failure to submit an exhibition copy of my film by the above-stated deadlines may cause the elimination of my film from competition.
- All rights and permissions are in place for my submission (it is the sole responsibility of the applicant to obtain any and all necessary rights and permissions).
- By submitting my film for consideration, I grant permission to DCIFF to use any portion of my film and related materials for promotion in all media, including DCIFF catalogues, flyers, posters and the DCIFF website.
- I am DULY authorized to submit this film to the Washington, DC Independent Film Festival and its competition (“DCIFF”) and I have read, understood and agreed to all entry requirements.
- All submitted films are in competition.
- All of the above information and statements are accurate.

Overall Rating
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    David A. Melendez

    One of my favorite festivals - hands down. Deirdre Evans-Pritchard and team went above and beyond to give us the best experience possible. We had our own reception and screened in a beautiful theater (Miracle Theatre). Many workshops and events - Great place to network and build a fan base for your film. Highly recommend.

    April 2017
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    Jamaal Bell

    This being my first festival, I don't have anything to compare it to. That aside, it was a great experience and made for the best possible world premiere for our film. The volunteer staff was very helpful and accessible, and it was clear they were working hard to make it a memorable and worthwhile experience for the filmmakers. The best part of the experience was definitely the community and camaraderie that developed among the filmmakers, which the festival team helped facilitate through the programming. The variety and quality of venues was also one of the best parts of the experience. We had to do a lot of our promotion to get people to our screening, but that's to be expected, and DCIFF was an atmosphere where all of our hard work paid off.

    March 2017
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    Aaron Lachman

    Great Festival! Extremely honored my film was chosen and I will submit again! Thank you DCIFF!

    February 2017
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    Russell Emanuel

    Was an incredible festival and had a blast! Met some great filmmakers and the Library of Congress visit was amazing!

    February 2017
  • I didn't have the opportunity to be there presenting my film "Invisible" but from our communication and watching from distance, I had the sense of a really cinephile festival and people who love films and creators.

    February 2017