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 premier, boutique film festival. Creatives who break boundaries and draw us into new worlds.

Like many festivals, we aim 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, as well as our High School event produced by the DaVinci Film Institute.

DIFF founders and the Board of Directors are intimately familiar with and appreciate the full cycle of, independent filmmaking and the demands therein. From the 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. Persistence is key to success in this business.

The DaVinci International Film Festival is produced by the DaVinci Film Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.


DIFF qualifies Vitruvian Award™ winners quarterly through an internal selection process. These quarterly winners ("Vitruvians") in feature film, short format (live-action or animation), documentary, animation, and screenwriting are invited to screen at the live showcase event annually. Here, filmmakers and screenwriters will compete against other quarterly Vitruvians for their shot at the festival's most coveted Leo Award.

Projects will screen at our red carpet event for family, friends, and industry professionals, followed by filmmaker Q&A and a VIP After Party, where DIFF presents physical awards to the winners.

We understand 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.

Come and Experience the DIFF.

DaVinci International Film Festival

- THE LEO (Feature, Short, Documentary, Animation, Screenplay)
- VITRUVIAN AWARD™ (Quarterly Feature Film, Short Format, Documentary, Animation Screenplay)
- DIGITAL CERTIFICATE & WINNERS LAUREL (Quarterly category winners)
- SPONSORS prize package

You must fully comply with these Entry Rules & Regulations, including all deadlines, film length, entry material(s), and accepting terms prior to submission, as well as those listed below. For STORYLINE (screenwriting) 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. Films 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 requires an entry fee. If the filmmaker chooses 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. Enrolled High School students are encouraged to apply through the DaVinci Film Institute.
8. All entries should be submitted via the 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 (screenwriting) competition series must review eligibility and rules at storyline.davincifilmfestival.com prior to submission.

Good luck!

Overall Rating
  • Dekel Berenson

    Thank you for selecting and awarding our film ANNA!

    September 2020
  • Thrilled to have been a part of the DaVinci Film Festival! Highly recommend!

    November 2019
  • Elizabeth Cobbs

    The organizers of the DaVinci Film Festival are fantastic. As producers, we've participated in a number of festivals, but have rarely enjoyed it more! They go the extra mile (or twenty!) to communicate with participants and award winners, and make sure there is good attendance the day of the event. We will definitely submit again for our next film.

    August 2019
  • Burt Grinstead

    This is definitely one of the more promising experiences as a new filmmaker. They're super communicative, very willing to work with you, and very appreciative of your work. I want to be in this festival every year. Also, because it's a very selective festival, the actual event was intimate and classy. The awards they give out are awesome as well. I'm very proud to have been a part of this festival, and I think this festival has a long life ahead of it.

    July 2019
  • Herbert Golder

    A wonderful and very intelligently curated festival, featuring independent films of a very high, distinctive, and original character, made all the more meaningful by being an homage of sorts to the spirit of Leonardo, who embodied radical innovation and creative daring all across the sciences and all the arts. The festival is very well organized and the hosts and organizers warm and gracious. Very much a filmmakers' festival. Saw some films, across genres, that were absolutely stunning. A very special event and experience. It was truly an honor to be invited to be a part of, and to participate in, DaVinci.

    July 2019