DIFFs mission is to provide meaningful artistic and cultural programming to Dayton’s thriving community. We aim to inspire those to act on their passions in a place where passion always shines, the beautiful Gem City.

DIFF celebrates regional filmmaking and stories from Midwestern filmmakers who offer their DIFFerent and unique vision. We believe that through impactful storytelling, we can increase empathy, understanding, and a sense of discovery. Our goal is to provide a platform to foster rich dialogue within our community with an abundance of passion and creativity.

Furthermore, DIFF hopes to open its doors to stories of dreams, struggle, and support. The festival will showcase films from established professionals, emerging filmmakers, and students. Let’s come together to celebrate impactful stories from narrative, documentary, or animation— everyone has a story to tell, DIFF cannot wait to hear yours!

If you're a high school student, please send proof of enrollment and we'll send you a fee waiver for submission.

Awards TBA

1. Submission Eligibility:
- Submissions are accepted by Midwestern Filmmakers or filmmakers with a strong connection to the Midwest (if your film is based in the Midwest or documentary subject is Midwestern). We recognize the Midwest as having a connection to the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
- All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2019.
- Works in progress will not be considered.
- Feature films will be considered if they have a connection to Ohio.
- All films not in the English language are required to have subtitles.

2. Submission Format:
- Films must be submitted via online screener (no hard copy screeners accepted).

3. Premiere Status:
- There is no Premiere policy at DIFF your film may have screened at other Festivals and/or online.

4. Submission Fee:
- The submission fee is non-refundable.
- You may submit as many entries as you like. Each entry requires its own entry fee.

5. Scheduling:
- Screenings are scheduled during the Festival at the discretion of Dayton Independent Film Festival. DIFF reserves the right to make changes at any time for any reason. DIFF will not be liable for any costs claimed as a result of a change in scheduling.

6. Liability:
- Dayton Independent Film Festival is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any film.

7. Disclaimer: The films presented at DIFF do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Dayton and DIFF's sponsors.

Overall Rating
  • Mark Strauss

    Even though we were unable to attend, we are so grateful that our film The Funeral Photographer was part of the 2023 festival. Great communication throughout the entire process!

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us such a kind review, Mark! We hope to program your work again in the future and would love to see you in person at next year's festival!

  • Sarah Chaney & Heather Olt

    We had such a great experience at our first DIFF! It was an intimate and welcoming festival and very well run. Additionally, their social media support was unparalleled, which is so important in this day and age. We were so impressed with the quality of films in our block and met so many inspiring and talented filmmakers. As Ohioans who now live in LA, it was nice to come home to a midwest welcome. "Last Chance Moms" was honored to be a part of DIFF and we hope to return in the future!

    October 2022
  • Koura Linda

    While we were last-minute unable to attend in person, the festival was incredibly professional and well-organized with regard to communication to the filmmakers, and making us feel welcome and included in the event.

    We were very sorry to miss it and hope to have further work to submit for consideration in future years, for the opportunity to attend!

    October 2022
  • This was a fantastic little festival in Dayton! So many high quality films, and high quality people. Great support for filmmakers and their crews. Affordable entry, and affordable screenings.

    Communication was fantastic and clear. Just super well done. I’m very impressed. Thank you for hosting A Balanced Breakfast. It was an honor screening at DIFF!

    September 2022
  • Adam Langdon

    It was a privilege to participate in this festival. Great communication and great people.

    October 2021