This is our 6th year and we are absolutely thrilled for 2021! These months of quarantine have taught us all a lot of things. For us at Defy, it reminded our team how much we LOVE FESTIVALS. After last year’s virtual fest, as innovative and wild as it was, we’re now excited to return to the in-person cinematic experience. Since our festival is not until late August, we have every expectation that our live event will be back in action, and better than ever!

Defy is focused on great work made outside the system. We are looking for films that tread new ground, reinvent the process, turn storytelling tropes on their heads, and forge new paths in cinema. Defy wants to see fearless and intentional art.

All great art is a disruption.

“We call it Defy for a reason. The festival showcases unique filmmakers and introduces audiences to work that they won’t see anywhere else. We’re always looking for submissions that are a little bit different and one-of-a-kind. We’re about something new and fresh. When you see that spark of innovation and bold intention, that’s what really turns me on about film.” - Dycee Wildman, Festival Director


Named “Best Indie Film Festival” by the Nashville Scene, DEFY is entering its 6th year and continues to top the one that came before. “Fest organizers brought to East Nashville the festival’s most diverse and dynamic selection of international experimental films and art videos yet” -Joe Nolan, Nashville Scene

DEFY is driven by the desire to showcase unknown talent from around the world and to program with focused intention for a unique experience. It's this cinematic experience that we are determined to bring our Nashville audiences.

There are only two categories, features and shorts.

Without specific genre categories, DEFY has the flexibility to steer into whatever ideas and talent are submitted each year. We won't feel obligated to program something mediocre just because we have to fulfill a category. Your work will inform our festival.

No matter what kind of film you have, we want to see it - drama, comedy, experimental, animation, documentaries, horror/sci-fi, music videos, etc. We are independent filmmakers ourselves and we know the financial hardships you went through and the uncompromising passion it took to create the great film resting in your hands right now. Your film will be treated and viewed with the respect that we would want for our own films.

Best of Festival SHORT
Best of Festival FEATURE

Award of Excellence SHORT
Award of Excellence FEATURE

Eligibility Requirements for the feature film and short film competition:

- Running time for all feature films must be 45 minutes or more and not exceed 150 minutes
- Running time for all shorts must be less than 44 minutes.
- Defy requires a Nashville Premiere for screening.
- Selected films must be made available in a Quicktime file.
- Film submissions in a foreign language must be subtitled in English.
- Preview screening format are digital screeners ONLY - No DVD screeners.
- If submitting more than one film, a separate completed entry is required for each title.
- All entries fees are non-refundable.


- Films are scheduled at the discretion of the Defy Film Festival. Defy retains the right to make changes to the published schedule at any time and for any reason. Films may be screened more than once.


- Our local film community is important to us. If you are the director or producer and a Nashville resident, we will waive your submission fee. Email us a copy of your driver's license for qualification. This offer is only available up to the regular deadline.


By submitting an entry, filmmaker states that he or she is responsible as an agent to promote the film and that the film is an original work.

All entry fees are non-refundable.

Filmmaker warrants they have full legal right and authority to submit the mentioned film for consideration by the Defy Film Festival, and that all necessary consents, licensing, and approvals have been obtained.

Filmmaker understands that my submission is in no way a guarantee of acceptance into Defy.

All materials (including but not limited to the submitted film and promotional materials) will be retained by Defy. Excerpts of the submitted film and all promotional materials may be used for various Defy promotional purposes, including but not limited to local, national and international press and electronic media. For films selected in the festival, Defy reserves the right to screen the entry at the festival.

Defy will retain a copy of the film, along with all promotional materials, for its archives. The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The filmmaker shall indemnify and hold harmless Defy from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Michael Vukadinovich

    A fantastic festival. Really well done and professional.

    October 2020
  • Karen Leo

    Awesome festival! They did a great job making the virtual experience very lively and personal. The films were really impressive, varied, funny and visually arresting.

    September 2020
  • Stephan Dilley

    Brilliant festival, perfect communication, great programming. Super nice organizers.

    February 2020
  • Stephen Huff

    Great film festival! Great people!

    January 2020
  • Really had planned and hoped to be with you all at DEFY . Such generous spirited creatives . Thank you for showing JUMP . Delighted.
    Am going to do my best to get to your festival another time . Still waiting for my t-shirt ..?!!! Cléa

    October 2019