Calling all filmmakers and storytellers! Prepare to be captivated by the allure of the Ely Film Festival, nestled in the heart of Northern Minnesota. This is not just another film event; it's a cinematic celebration like no other.

Picture yourself in the enchanting small town of Ely, where the beauty of the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness envelops you. This setting, steeped in history and diverse cultures, serves as the backdrop for an extraordinary cinematic experience that awaits you.

At the Ely Film Festival, we're hungry for your stories. Whether you're a seasoned filmmaker or a rising talent, we eagerly welcome your submissions from all genres, categories, and seasons. Here, your unique voice and alternative perspectives shine, defying the cookie-cutter narratives of Hollywood. We believe in the immense power of storytelling, in all its forms. Our festival is the perfect stage to showcase your creativity.


Don't just take our word for it; let the words of past participants speak to the magic of the festival:

"Screening in Ely, MN to a sold-out audience is something that I will never forget as an artist and filmmaker." - Nathaniel Hoff

"The vibes were awesome, to hear cheers and huge reactions to the's a moviegoing experience I wish I had every time I watched a movie." - Mitchell McCallson


But wait, there's more! The Ely Film Festival is proud to be an official event of the 31st Annual Ely Winter Festival, adding layers of excitement to your visit. While you're here, indulge in the whimsical Snow Sculpture Symposium in Whiteside Park, savor the warmth of a steaming cup of coffee at our local cafes, immerse yourself in the world of talented local artists during the Ely Artwalk, and let live musical performances serenade your senses. Embark on guided snowshoe hikes or dive into the thrill of a dogsledding adventure.

For those with a penchant for history and culture, the Ely area offers treasures like the Bois Forte Heritage Museum, the International Wolf Center, the Pioneer Mine Museum, and the Dorothy Molter Museum. If creativity beckons, consider taking a class at the Ely Folk School. And of course, take your time to explore our charming local stores and restaurants for a leisurely afternoon of shopping and dining.

The Ely Film Festival is a promise of diversity, adventure, and cultural enrichment, and we want you to bring your creative energies! It's an event that fuses the magic of cinema, the richness of culture, and the pristine beauty of Ely, Minnesota. Don't miss out on this extraordinary opportunity to share your stories with an engaged and appreciative audience. Submit your film to Ely Film Festival, where your cinematic journey awaits!

Presenting awards in the following categories:

Best Picture
Best Cinematography
Best Regional Film
Best MN Film
Best Director
Best Documentary
Best Story

Plus awards for Best Short Film in each Category!

**Best Picture winner(s) will be awarded with a week-long retreat at Tofte Lake Artist Retreat Center in Ely, Minnesota. Their mission is to support artists by providing a nurturing experience rooted in nature where artists of all disciplines and backgrounds feel safe to take a break from the "work" of art to play, feel inspired, and be rejuvenated. Retreat dates will most likely be for 2025 summer season. Details to be determined after the 2024 festival. Visit to learn more about the retreat center.**

Films completed on or after January 1, 2020 will be eligible for the 2024 festival.

Submission fee is non-refundable.

Ely Film Festival (EFF) negotiates screening fees, travel stipends and speaker stipends according to our ability on a case-by-case basis.

Films may be submitted by digital link, DVD or Blu-Ray. If accepted, DCP delivery is required for festival screening purposes. Filmmakers will assume any shipping and handling costs required to the festival.

More than one entry may be submitted. Each entry must be accompanied by its own online entry and entry fee.

Films produced in languages other than English must provide legible English subtitles.

If your film is accepted, EFF has the right to show, post, or broadcast images from the film in association with materials related to advertising and promoting EFF.

Overall Rating
  • This is hands down one of the best run festivals I've attended. Festival Director Jacob White has done an amazing job leading his team. The newly restored State Theater is beautiful and the filmmakers lounge in the grotto below felt quite exclusive. The town of Ely was also very enthusiastic and filled the theaters every night. I saw some beautiful documentaries and I learned a lot about the beautiful Boundary Water Canoe Area. I will definitely be back.

    September 2023
  • Jerry Wilson

    I wonderful festival and I feel honored to be selected.

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hi Jerry,

    Thank you for sharing this review! We feel honored that you chose to submit your film "The Shadow of Shakespeare: Henry V" to our first run festival! We had a great time and hope that you may be able to attend in person in the future. We wish you good luck on all your future projects. Please never stop creating!


    The ERFF Team

  • Nathaniel Hoff

    Jacob and the team at End of the Road Film Festival put on an absolutely incredible event. The whole festival was welcoming, encouraging, and receptive to our film "State of the Unity". Screening in Ely, MN to a sold out audience is something that I will never forget as an artist and filmmaker. We wish them all the best as they continue to grow into a top tier film festival. They are doing an incredible job of raising up independent voices. Ever Upwards, Nathaniel

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hi Nathaniel,

    Thank you so much for your positive review of our first-run festival! Our team had an absolute blast hosting you and Jillian (The Bergamot) in Ely. We are so glad you decided to submit your film "State of the Unity", and we're stoked that you've been able to play in so many great festivals around the country!

    The community seemed to respond really positively to your messages of unity, and we were so excited when you received a standing ovation after you concert following the film screening! Please never stop creating work you are passionate about. You bring a shining light of joy and support to every project you work on.


    The ERFF Team

  • Justin + Kristin Schaack

    A big shoutout to Jacob White and the entire End of the Road Film Festival staff & volunteers! You would never know it was a first year festival. The entire weekend was organized, well-promoted, and well-attended by filmmakers and the community of Ely. In addition to the films, there was a great representation of local artists, musicians, and workshops. It was a pleasure and honor to screen our short film at this festival and connect with filmmakers from across the country. We hope to return in the future and highly encourage other filmmakers to submit and attend.

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hi Justin + Kristin,

    Thank you so much for writing this review of our first-run festival! We were so honored that you decided to submit your film "The Family We Chose". We were really excited to see how much of our community and regional audience turned out to support the event. We are glad to hear that you felt the weekend was well organized, well promoted and well attended. We agree!

    We are so glad that you enjoyed taking in some of our local talent, including some of our many talented artists, musicians, and presenters. Connecting our filmmakers with our audience and with one another is what we are all about! We would love to have you submit to and attend future festivals! Never stop creating work you are passionate about!


    The ERFF Team

  • Matthew Koshmrl

    This was a very fun festival to screen at! The team at End of The Road was inviting and the venue was incredible! All of the screenings I attended were full or nearly full. I hope that I can screen again and visit Ely in the future!

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hi Matthew,

    Thank you so much for writing a review of our first-run festival. We were honored that you chose to submit your feature film "Land of My Father" and two regionally relevant short films "Supper Club" and "The Poachers", and we were so excited to be able to include them in the program this year. We would love to have you come back again in future years! Please never stop creating work you are passionate about! Thank you for your leadership and commitment.


    The ERFF Team