The 16th Durango Independent Film Festival is an early spring destination festival cultivating a reputation as a filmmaker’s festival. Located in picturesque southwestern Colorado, filmmakers will enjoy staying within walking distance of two of three venues, fine restaurants, boutiques, brew pubs, art galleries, and historic Victorian hotels. Durango offers many recreational diversions such as the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge train and early spring skiing at nearby Purgatory Ski Resort. In addition to festival parties, we host nightly gatherings in the private filmmaker’s lounge with complementary beverages such as our own festival beer artfully brewed by SKA Brewing.

*** FESTIVAL UPDATE: We are no longer optimistic that we will be able to present a theatrical Festival. The theatre we planned to use for our in-person 2021 screenings notified the Festival on November 17, 2020, that they cannot guarantee they will be open for Festival screenings in early March. We plan to reconnect with the theatre on January 2, 2021 to see if in-theatre screenings may be possible but it does not look promising as our area is spiking with COVID cases. Therefore, we are moving forward in planning a virtual festival event, with a very slim possibility to have a few smaller screenings in the theatre. We will be socially responsible in these unpredictable times and with vaccines on the horizon, will definitely be in-person for our festival in 2022. We have decided to extend our online festival to a 10-day event, beginning March 3, so that our film-loving audience has enough time to watch films at their leisure. We will continue to champion the art of independent filmmaking and will showcase your film in the best possible way.

We have signed the 2020 Festival Survival Pledge. We have no premiere status requirements. Therefore, if your film has screened in an online film festival event, your film will be given the same consideration as all other submitted films.

If any live screenings can be held, we will not be in a position to show all selected films in the theatre, therefore, the festival retains the right to make the decision which films may be included for in-person screenings. Our Festival takes place in late winter/early spring and a Drive-In is not recommended for this time of year. There are opportunities for filmmakers to participate in virtual Q&A sessions and Panels. Each year, our festival seeks out an eclectic mix of narrative features, documentaries, and short films. We seek all genres of film including: Adventure, LGBTQ, Native Cinema, and Family. We also curate creative films suitable for students of all ages for our REEL Learning School Program.

This is a juried film festival with both juror and audience award presentations:
Jury Awards
Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature
Jury Award for Best Best Documentary Feature
Jury Award for Best Short Documentary
Jury Award for Best Live Action Short
Jury Award for Best Animated Short
Audience Awards
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Audience Award for Best Documentary
Audience Award for Best Short
Audience Award for Best Native Cinema film
Audience Award for Best Adventure film
Audience Award for Best Family film
Audience Award for Best REEL Learning film

Please no requests for submission fee waivers. Alumni filmmakers may contact the festival for a waiver code for one submission.
Works in progress must be received prior the early bird deadline and final completed work must be received by November 6, 2020.
For exhibition formats, BluRays are accepted for back-up purposes only and are not used in presentations.
Please notify the festival if your film will be broadcast on cable or network television or released for sale on DVD prior to the beginning of the festival.
Please note that DCP is the required exhibition format for all feature length documentaries and narrative features as well as short films. All festival venues have DCP formats.
Durango Film will only return ship to domestic destinations, including domestic film festival destinations.
Selected films will not be paid a screening fee. Films that require a screening fee are not eligible for either a juried or audience award. All films will screen twice during the festival and filmmakers will be notified by mid-January 2020 when both screenings have been scheduled.

Overall Rating
  • What a fantastic festival. When our film was selected, my filmmaker friends said it was one of the best one's they've been to, and they were right! Good people, they take good care of you, a crazy-unique setting, engaged and supportive community who fill the theaters, and great food. They even have their own airport. Highly recommended.

    March 2020
  • Paul Sutton

    We have screened our doc, "Straight from the Pen," at dozens of festivals across the country. We drove over 2,000 miles to this one to discover that Durango was one of the best! Incredibly well organized, right down to the brochures listing events--easy to find everything and everything was very closeby. All kinds of Intimate gatherings with a very engaged community. We totaled about 200 people at our two screenings--a huge number for a prison documentary and more than we had at any other festival. And we had people stopping us on the street to congratulate us on our unique show. So many parties and events that we couldn't begin to attend them all, and, of course, some really outstanding films! Lovely setting, great venues, and absolutely WONDERFUL and engaged community.

    March 2020
  • Meghan Falcone

    What a wonderful festival! Screenings were all full, lines to get in - great Q and As and a wonderful assortment of content. A truly wonderful community that welcomes filmmakers. This festival goes above and beyond in every way!

    March 2020
  • Leon Chambers

    One of the most enjoyable festivals I have attended. They really know how to make their filmmakers feel welcome and what a setting! Screenings are very well attended and the town embraces the festival with open arms. Definitely an audience facing festival and not an industry one, so don't expect to meet distributors, but great for networking with other filmmakers. I already have two projects I am now working on with people I met there.

    March 2020
  • Durango Independent FF was wonderful in every way. They picked me up at the airport, paid for a night in the local hotel, organized the screenings well, hosted helpful workshops with veteran filmmakers, and communicated with me throughout the entire process. I could not recommend DIFF more. It was a great experience and I hope to attend again next year!

    March 2020