Now in its 37th year, the Washington, DC International Film Festival (Filmfest DC) celebrates over three decades in which we have presented thousands of new films to residents and visitors to our nation's capital.
In 2023 the festival will be back in our traditional late April dates: Thursday, April 20 - Sunday, April 30. Most likely with a hybrid combination of in-person and virtual screenings.
We welcome entries of international and independent cinema, and include several programs to showcase films made by artists living and/or working in Washington, DC.
As the largest and longest-running annual international film festival in Washington, DC, FILMFEST DC has established itself as one of the city's major cultural activities.
Inaugurated in 1996 and presented by the Washington, DC International film Festival, ARABIAN SIGHTS is one of the longest running festivals of its kind in the US and has grown to become a widely anticipated, attended and respected event in DC, and is favorably highlighted in the media. Since 2020, ARABIAN SIGHTS has been incorporated into the Filmfest DC dates.
The festival's audience is widely diverse, curious and knowledgeable. Filmfest DC delivers provocative and entertaining stories from around the globe to our own DC neighborhoods.

1. CIRCLE AWARD - juried competition of selected feature films that deserve increased recognition.
2 CROSSCURRENTS FOUNDATION JUSTICE MATTERS AWARD - an international juried competition of feature length films which expand our awareness and understanding of creative and collective responses to social justice issues around the globe.
3. FILMFEST DC METROSHORTS AWARD - a juried award for the best short film from a DC Metro area filmmaker.
4. FILMFEST DC SHORTS AWARD - a juried award which tends towards recognizing less well known filmmakers and those whose work illustrates a balance of economy and emotional resonance. Shorts in all genres are eligible, DC area premiere is preferred.
5. SIGNIS AWARD - the jury presents this award to the film deemed to best illuminate and celebrate what it means to be human in a diverse and challenging world.
6. FILMFEST DC AUDIENCE AWARDS to feature narrative and documentary films determined by audience ballot.
7. ARABIAN SIGHTS AUDIENCE AWARD for favorite Arabian Sights film will be determined by audience ballots presented at all festival screenings.

1. Filmfest DC strongly prefers to have the Washington, DC area premiere of films selected for the festival and gives priority to such films.
2. Submission criteria:
-Completion AFTER April 1, 2022
-In English or in the original language with English subtitles
-Short films must be under 18 minutes in duration
- Not screened or streamed on television or theatrically in the U.S. or screened prior to May 1, 2023.
-Not be available to the public online as a DVD or as a digital download/streaming link for purchase or rental.
3. Works in progress that are not final cuts may be submitted but please clearly note what is missing or will change.
4. JUSTICE MATTERS COMPETITION: Please submit feature length (50+ min) films about creative and collective responses to social justice issues (including environmental, economic, etc.) through the Justice Matters category. ONLY feature length (50+ min) films are considered in this category.
If you are a filmmaker living and/or working in the DC Metro area you may be eligible for a discounted entry fee. Please contact us PRIOR TO SUBMISSION with your name, address, name of film, date of production, run time and a brief description of your/your film's connection to the DC Metro Area.
For METROSHORTS and JUSTICE MATTERS films contact <>;
all others write to <>
6. More than one entry may be submitted; however an official entry and entry fee must accompany each submission.
7. If your film is selected, Filmfest DC will require a DCP exhibition copy for the festival's physical public presentation, and/or an upload of an mp4 should it be virtual. The 2023 festival is planned to be hybrid.

Overall Rating
  • Johnny Holder

    Absolutely lovely festival, venues, staff and coordinators. I can’t say thank you enough to DC film fest for including my film and awarding it as the metro shorts winner as well as just taking the time to have some encouraging and inspiring conversations. 🙏🙏🙏

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Johnny, we were so pleased to be able to include your beautiful film (SONORA) and to meet you in person in DC. We hope you enjoy being a part of the DC film community.

  • This was a great festival with so many different films and subjects. My film The Art of Un-War screened at National Gallery of Art as part of the festival. I was completely honored and the audience was amazing. Everyone connected to the festival were incredibly nice and helpful. Definitely worth submitting to it, attending and DC audience is fantastic.

    May 2022
    Response from festival:

    Hey Maria, we were delighted to discover The Art of Un-War (through d-word and IDFA) and to work with our partners at the National Gallery of Art to present it to an appreciative public here.

  • Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi

    One of the best film festivals I have ever been invited to. Thank you for your attention to detail. Thank you for bringing me and my film into schools across the city. It has been a great honor to participate in such a great festival. To the entire team, THANK YOU!

    May 2022
    Response from festival:

    Eli (and Khalil) thank you for your commitment to the people of Puerto Rico and your wonderful film WE STILL HERE showing the creativity and resilience there. Your presentations at the public screening to adults and to school students from K - 12 were so well prepared and sometimes hilarious it was a delight to host you.

  • Linda and Juliet overcame the challenges of Covid to curate an excellent selection of films. I'm grateful to have Landfill included, and to have met fellow filmmakers in person as the world opens up. Thank you!

    June 2021
    Response from festival:

    You are so correct, Heidi, about the challenges this year; we gave it our best efforts, and we are really pleased as well with the quality of the films. Thank you for this, and also for your participation in one of the recorded interviews, we appreciated your comments as well as your film!

  • Cheryl Jacobs Crim

    Sadly, Filmfest DC was delayed over 5 months due to Covid. But the communication we received from from Linda Blackaby through the entire time was extraordinary. She was thoughtful and thorough and extremely helpful to me as a first-time filmmaker. I highly recommend this festival.

    November 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Cheryl, it was a real pleasure to work with you this year. Onward!