The 18th 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 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.

We are planning an in-person 2023 Festival March 1 - 5 followed by a virtual sampling of the festival films March 6 - 11. The films for the virtual sampling will be chosen by the heads of the programming teams. Festival events include Coffee Talk with Filmmakers, Panel discussions, Q&A's following screenings, and parties. We will continue to champion the art of independent filmmaking and will showcase your film in the best possible way.

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. As stated elsewhere, please submit your film to ONE CATEGORY only. Our team leaders will alert other teams should they feel a different category provides a better fit.

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
Jury Award for Best Adventure Film
Jury Award for Best Native Cinema Film
Jury Award for Best Performance in the Narrative Features category
Audience Awards
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Audience Award for Best Narrative Short
Audience Award for Best Documentary 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 (votes by students)

UPDATE: Please submit to ONE category only, otherwise you will be charged for each category you include. Please select the best category that fits your film's subject/genre. Our programming teams share films that can fit in more than one category so please choose only one. We will NOT process refunds if you choose to submit to more than one category.
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 October 31, 2022.
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 two of our four screens are DCP compatible. Our other screens will use .mov and .mp4 file formats. If your film is selected, you will be notified as to the required format the festival will accept based upon venue location.
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, in theatres, during the festival and filmmakers will be notified by mid-January 2023 when both screenings have been scheduled.

Overall Rating
  • Great Festival ✔️ Thank you to hosting our film JUST LIKE WATER 🔹 Greetings from Greece 🇬🇷

    November 2022
  • Ivon Visalli

    Our movie "Out and About" screened at Durango. It's a tremendous festival. Wonderful people, wonderful town, nice screening venues and everything is within walking distance. A great experience all around.

    Peter Callahan, "Out and about"

    July 2022
  • Hockett Films

    We've loved this festival as patrons for years now, and we were honored to be accepted as filmmakers in 2022. Great content, organization, and genuinely caring people!

    June 2022
  • Darren Bender

    The friendliest festival I have ever been to. The whole town makes you feel welcome and comes out to see the films. The location is a amazing - in the snow topped Rocky Mountains. The programming was really impressive. I saw dozens of great short and feature documentaries. The panels were really intimate and emotional. All the hosts worked hard to make sure the filmmakers and audiences connected and had a great experience. The whole festival runs super smoothly with complimentary drinks every night and great conversations and unexpected encounters. The team are passionate about independent films and put endless energy into celebrating them. If you go, visit the local speakeasy - best fun bar in town - if you can find it and have the password!

    March 2022
  • Just a wonderful time! The festival is very communicative, warm and the entire town just flat out loves movies! The screenings were packed with folks and there was a great selection for them to choose from. Every night the local cafe became the filmmaker's lounge which gave away free drinks and food to us filmmakers!
    The only drawbacks is Durango is a bit remote and hard to get to, which will cost you. And being as such, only a handful of filmmakers who's work was screening actually attended, so despite the amazing parties, there were only a few people to speak with.
    Overall, it's a wonderful group of volunteers who work tirelessly to provide a great experience for audience members and filmmakers alike, but don't expect to be discovered here.

    March 2022