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 great festival run by great people! Both times I've screened there, I've felt welcome and appreciated, and all communication was clear. They did a great job with a virtual festival in 2021 and I felt more connected to the organizers and selected filmmakers than I did with other virtual fests. Thank you!

    March 2021
  • Great festival! Top notch communication & selections. Proud to be a part of it & will definitely submit in the future!

    March 2021
  • dustan hlady

    My film was in 13 festivals. All of them online. Durango was obviously the gold standard for filmmaker engagement. I've heard stories about the amazing community that springs up during the in-person festival, so it didn't shock me, when I found that the online festival was the most engaging online festival I had been to.

    Every film festival can learn from them.

    March 2021
  • A HUGE thank you to everyone over at DIFF. They were so accommodating and kind during all the adversity they were facing this year. A top notch festival. I truly hope to be back again and meet everyone in person one day.

    March 2021
  • Oktay Ortabasi

    Online festival was well done.

    March 2021