What's the DIFF?

… It’s the DaVinci International Film Festival (DIFF), but also a question many independent filmmakers ask themselves as they browse and filter through dozens, if not hundreds, of film festivals online — what makes DIFF stand out from the others?

It starts with our brand — our name.

The way we see it, Leonardo da Vinci was the epitome of the divergent and creative mind— a luminary—and so we aim to recognize much of the same at our festival. Creatives who break boundaries and draw us into new worlds.

Like many festivals, we set out to honor the best in independent cinema from around the world, and do so by taking into account the full-scope of creative integration in any given project. From performances to color correction; score to sound design, our Jury is tasked with assessing each film based on an overall cohesiveness as it relates to storytelling. In addition, DIFF shines a very important light on screenwriting through our sister-brand, STORYLINE℠ with quarterly and annual competitions. Learn more at: storylinefestival.com.

DIFF founders are intimately familiar with, and appreciate the full cycle of, independent filmmaking and the demands therein. From perils of financing, through the distribution of any given work — the process is often complex and unforgiving. Most of these creative projects can take a short lifetime to complete, and whether or not your work is showcased at DIFF, we want to encourage you to keep pressing forward.

Another standout at DIFF is the DaVinci Film Institute. A non-profit arm of the festival that offers a student grant for one qualified filmmaker. DIFF is committed to donating a portion of entry proceeds (per quarter) toward the grant program. Learn more about the Institute and apply at: davincifilminstitute.org.


DIFF hosts quarterly online qualifiers for our "Vitruvian Award". Quarterly winners ("Vitruvians") in Feature Film, Short format, Documentary and Screenwriting will [then] be invited to screen/present at our Live Showcase Event at the end of the calendar year. Here, filmmakers and screenwriters will compete against other Vitruvians for their shot at our most prized commendation, the Leo Award.

Projects will screen at our red carpet event for family, friends, and industry professionals, followed by filmmaker Q&A and VIP After Party, where DIFF sponsors will present their respective awards to our winners.

We understand that you have many options in festivals, and we appreciate your interest in the DaVinci International Film Festival. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Good luck!

DaVinci Film Festival

- THE LEO (Feature, Short, Documentary, Screenplay)
- VITRUVIAN AWARD (Quarterly Feature Narrative, Short Narrative, Documentary, Screenplay)
- DIFF CERTIFICATE & WINNERS LAUREL (Quarterly category winners)
- SPONSOR prize package

You must fully comply with these Entry Rules & Regulations, including all deadlines, film length, entry material(s), and accepting terms (unscripted) prior to submission, as well as these listed below. For STORYLINE (Screenplay) competition, please visit storyline.davincifilmfestival.com for a full list of rules and qualifications:

1. All non-English speaking films must be presented in their original version with English subtitles.
2. Short Film Entries should not exceed 40 minutes in duration including titles and credits.
3. Film previously entered into DIFF are not eligible for re-entry in subsequent years.
4. All submissions are screened and evaluated by the DIFF Preview and Selection Committee, appointed by the Festival Director. Their reports are final and confidential. Long and short format films that are received by DIFF and win the Vitruvian Award, will be screened at our Live Event Showcase Event.
5. In the event of a film is withdrawn, DIFF will not refund or return any materials.
6. ONE ENTRY FEE PER CATEGORY. The same film can be entered into more and one category, but each category require an entry fee. If the filmmaker choose to enter more than one category with the same film, please add an incremental numerical addendum in brackets after the title; i.e. "Film Title" (1), "Film Title" (2), etc. as the system requires this differentiation in the case of multiple entries with the same title.
7. Student filmmakers are encouraged to apply, but must present their valid Student ID in order to benefit from our student discount.
8. All entries should be submitted via FilmFreeway.com portal. Please DO NOT send us any material unless requested.
9. Unfortunately we DO NOT accept works in progress at this time.
10. Unscripted entries must first accept DIFF submission Policy prior to entry. Please visit: https://davincifilmfestival.com/release-form/ NO EXCEPTIONS. Once the Release Form is submitted, an email will be sent directly with a password to continue your submission.
11. STORYLINE (Screenplay) competition series must review eligibility and rules at: storyline.davincifilmfestival.com prior to submission.

Overall Rating
  • Ken White

    I have been fortunate to be honored by the DaVinci International Film Festival twice. I was a finalist last year in screenwriting and I won the first quarterly Vitruvian award in screenwriting this year. I attended last year's event in Santa Monica and it was terrific. The venue was excellent. The roster of films was wonderful. The staff and volunteers were friendly, accessible, and helpful. But, what I enjoyed most, was having an opportunity to meet the other writers and filmmakers. The intimacy and informality of the environment encouraged conversation. It was inspiring to talk craft and find out what other people are working on. The DaVinci International Film Festival is an "up and comer" and should not be missed.

    September 2018
  • Jen Gutierrez

    Spectacular festival. From beginning to end, the communication and organization of the festival was wonderful. Every aspect of the festival was thoughtfully put together and expertly done. The festival event was lovely, and it was clear that a lot of great care and passion was involved in launching the festival. I truly look forward to seeing how the festival continues to grow, and highly recommend that other filmmakers and writers apply.

    May 2018
  • Kasha Sequoia Slavner

    As a new filmmaker I was honoured to be selected as a FINALIST for my documentary THE SUNRISE STORYTELLER. The director Peter Punito was extremely kind to deal with and the experience was very positive. Definitely will submit for my next documentary as well!

    May 2018
  • The DaVinci Film Festival is a quality festival through and though. Chadwick and Pete were fabulous hosts. They truly pour their hearts and caring into this festival and it shows! The venue in Santa Monica was classy and it was simply a wonderful and uplifting festival. This was also a great opportunity to network with industry folks. What a special, special evening at the awards ceremony too. I want to thank Chadwick and Pete for letting me and my work (COLORBLIND - the feature screenplay) be a part of such a great festival. I wish you all great things in the future. The DaVinci Film Festival and it's recognition of artists has a very bright future!

    May 2018

    Was elated to get official selection status for my documentary LIVING ON THE EDGE-DEGLAMORISING BOLLYWOOD. The festival is one of the few that stands by what it promises-Efficient communication, timely notification and a website that strives to update information regularly. Will definitely want to come back to it with my next documentary

    March 2018