As of 2022, DCIFF is a Film Festival & Forum. DCIFF is the oldest independent film festival in Washington DC and has a storied history of presenting extraordinary films. We showcase cutting edge features, animation, experimental films, shorts, and documentaries on every subject, from every country, and with every budget and subject imaginable. All films are still selected through review and come via submissions, we do not pre-select. To date, we have not been a curated film festival, but in 2021 we decided to pivot slightly and program more thematically. This switch does not impact submissions as we curate from selections but it is a move from extensive to intensive (fewer films and much, much more attention to each film and filmmaker).

The 2023 festival will screen 40-50 films (including shorts) over 5 days with robust filmmaker-centered programming around each selected film that allows for discussion, learning and celebration with audiences and several screenings. We will work closely with selected filmmakers to craft thoughtful, seminar-type programming around their film’s presentation. DCIFF brings together passionate artists, filmmakers, critics, curators, and film enthusiasts for a celebration of independent filmmaking. Like previous festivals, we continue to be an essentially volunteer-run festival. All submissions fees support festival programming.

The 2023 festival is entirely in-person in Washington, DC. Acceptance into DCIFF 2023 assumes your attendance and active involvement in the festival experience.

Student films are only a submission category: there is no programming section dedicated to student films except high school films.

HIGH SCHOOL FILM COMPETITION: February 25, 2023. We only accept high school submissions in the student category.

We will have awards for the 2023 festival but are reevaluating our awards structure. Because of the smaller group of selected films, we are working on how best to recognize everyone. We expect to have three best film awards and then awards for best directing, writing, cinematography, editing, effects and sound.

The high school film competition awards are a separate category of 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

Submissions open from September 12 to December 11, 2022

We welcome submissions in the following categories:
◾ Narrative features
◾ Short films
◾ Documentaries (feature and shorts)
◾ Animation + Experimental (up to 2 hours)
◾ Web Series Pilots or Episodes
◾ Works in Progress
◾ High School Student Film Showcase and Competition (films up to 20 mins.) – Free Submission until November 25, 2021.

We are open to films of any genre except adult films (though' R-rated" is fine) 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 have an excellent animation section and encourage animators working across all styles to submit their work.

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, awards, distribution, and networking, but we can only do so if the following rules are followed:

Metro DC Theater Film Premieres required (we accept films that have had private screenings in DC). East Coast and US Premieres preferred. No restrictions for films screened online, but we will need to know details about online availability.

All films completed within 18 months of the date of submission to DCIFF (for 2022 we understand that films may have been waiting to be screened. Get in touch if you have question about your film); 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 January 2022. FILMS MUST HAVE BEEN COMPLETED AFTER March 1, 2020.

High School Students - For age 18 & under only! We accept high school entries *only* if you are a current high school student or graduated high school in the summer of 2021. Please include your current high school ID and your high school name and address, 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 festival. With your submission, please include the title of your screened film and the year it was shown.

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.
- By submitting my film for consideration, I grant permission to DCIFF to use any 3 minute portion of my film and related materials for promotion in all media, including DCIFF catalogues, flyers, posters and the DCIFF website.
- I understand that no film accepted for screening in competition at DCIFF may be withdrawn without the express written permission of DCIFF after February 1, 2022. 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 file unless other arrangements have been made with you, the filmmaker.
- I promise to contact DCIFF immediately regarding any changes to the information above, including distribution, 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 February 25, 2022 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).
- 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.
- By submitting to the festival, I am showing interest in taking part in DCIFF 2022 should our film be selected.
- All of the above information and statements are accurate.

Overall Rating
  • Bradley Berman

    The DC Independent Film Film Festival recently adjusted its name from "festival" to "forum." That's spot on. It's a smart, intimate assembly of filmmakers, thinkers, and film buffs gathered for a few days in the nation's capitol. The discussion following our screening inspired all kinds of new insights and emotions about our film and the creative process. On top of that, the festival organized an insider's visit to the Library of Congress Moving Image and Recorded Sound Research Center. That was amazing. I highly recommend DCIFF and its thoughtful programming.

    March 2023
  • Ryan M. Kennedy

    DCIFF was an incredible experience and I would love to return in the future if they were to have me. Attendance was strong at nearly every screening I attended, theater that hosts the event is incredible, and best of all was the networking. Festival did a great job organizing events that brought filmmakers together and by the end many of us had become friends and will keep in touch.

    March 2023
  • David Zax

    What a wonderful festival! The quality of the programming was fantastic, the networking was wonderful, and it was a pleasure to meet Deirdre and talk about the business of film with her. Highly recommended and I’m proud to have had my world premiere here.

    March 2023
  • Ben Jackson

    We were honoured to be a part of this festival and disappointed that we couldn't travel to the USA to be part of it in person. Especially because the festival put on so many great events for filmmakers. I will definitely be entering our next film to the festival and hope that, if selected, we are able to be there in person next time.

    April 2022
  • Henri Kebabdjian

    Really nice festival. The welcome and the quality of the teams make this event a real pleasure. Congratulations again to all for all your work.

    March 2022