This is our 8th year and we are ready!

Defy is focused on great work made outside the system. We are looking for voices that tread new ground. Does your film surprise us? Does it make us think about something in a different way? Is there a unique artistic intention? These qualities are at the core of this festival. And every film Defy programs, lines up with these ideals.

“Lots of festivals include at least a few screenings of what they might refer to as ‘weird shorts’ or ‘twisted animation’ in their offerings, but Defy takes those bizarre and hard-to-classify categories and blows them up into one big celebration of strange cinema.” - Joe Nolan, Nashville Scene

“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

Defy Film Festival wants to highlight artists that not only have talent, but have a distinct voice. Artists who have something to say.

All great art is disruption


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.
- Defy reserves the right to not continue watching feature submissions after the halfway mark.


- 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
  • Defy is always the best. So thankful to be apart of it and screen my doc "Jesiah - Portrait of a Prophet". I always meet genuine film lovers at the fest and can't recommend it more for filmmakers

    October 2022
  • Denise Alder

    Great festival. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend but loved what I saw from afar! Honoured to be a part.

    September 2022
  • Harry Cleven

    Thank you so much for the honorable mention for my film Zeria !

    September 2022
  • Joe Nolan

    Nashville's greatest film festival. Creative screenings, super fun social scene, and one of the most literate and engaged film communities in the country.

    August 2022
  • Tony Olsen

    The kiwi crew of Aotearoa New Zealand short 'HOT WOOL' were thrilled to be selected for the Fantasy Block of this year's programme. Festival communication, online promotion and just sheer enthusiasm for 'slightly out there' cinema is to be lauded. Bravo for such a hip and funky event :)

    August 2022