Now in its 38th year, the Washington, DC International Film Festival (Filmfest DC) celebrates the over three decades during which we have presented thousands of new films to residents and visitors to our nation's capital.
In 2024 the fully in person festival will be back at our traditional late April slot: Thursday April 18 through Sunday April 28.
We welcome entries of international and independent cinema, and include several programs specifically to showcase films made by artists living and/or working in Washington, DC and the surrounding Metro area (contact before entering to see if you are eligible for a discount)
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, 2023
-In English or in the original language with English subtitles
-Short films must be under 18 minutes in duration (DC filmmakers with longer shorts please check prior to submitting)
- 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.
-NOTE: We have no category for films made by youth (K-12), and these films are seldom competitive or selected.
-PLEASE NOTE: Submission fees are nonrefundable.
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 theatrical public presentation. The 2024 festival will be an in-person event. We encourage you to take measures to make your film accessible.
Please identify if your film has
Open Captions
Closed Captions
Audio Description

Overall Rating
  • I can not say enough about how wonderful the Washington DC International Film Festival was! The venues are amazing, and the people associated to the festival like Linda, Juliet and Eli are all fantastic with communication and hospitality! Such a wonderful experience and a really outstanding film festival!

    May 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hey Shon, we were so delighted to be able to present "Meet Cute" and thank you for your enthusiastic participation, it was wonderful to meet you. I'll always remember with great appreciation how generous you were during your visit to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and how you enchanted and inspired students and teachers alike with what turned into a three hour crash course in animation.

  • Derek Kelly

    This was the best festival we have been to, a great experience all around. The whole team there put in a ton of effort to put together a thoughtfully curated program, filled with exciting films. The audience was also incredibly engaged. We hope we get the opportunity to come back with another project soon!

    May 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Derek and best regards to you and Lauren Fondren, we were so pleased to discover your film in our submissions and look forward to seeing your next project soon!

  • 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. πŸ™πŸ™πŸ™

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Update: Congratulations to you, Johnny for being recognized as the OCTFME May 2023 Filmmaker of the Month. All the praise is well deserved.
    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.