The Footcandle Film Festival is designed to bring unique, challenging and entertaining films and filmmakers to Western North Carolina. The festival is held by the founders and members of the Footcandle Film Society, a 600+ member group dedicated to screening and discussing films on a monthly basis. The festival will be held at the Drendel Auditorium on the SALT Block in Hickory, North Carolina between September 22nd and 26th, 2021. The festival will include an opening reception, filmmaker Q&A sessions, and a closing reception with awards.


Feature-length (running time greater than 40 minutes) and short films (running time less than 40 minutes) will be screened at the festival covering a variety of subjects.

Submissions will be categorized in one of four categories: Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Narrative Feature, or Documentary Feature. At the festival closing ceremonies awards will be given for Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Documentary Short as selected by a jury, and two awards selected by festival attendees - Audience Favorite Feature & Audience Favorite Short.


The Visiting Writers Series of Lenoir-Rhyne University will provide a $1,000 cash prize to a first place winner and a $500 cash prize to a second place winner of the scriptwriting competition. All entries will be reviewed and the winners will be announced the last week of July.

The winners will be asked to receive their award on Thursday, September 23rd at an event co-sponsored by the Lenoir-Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series and the 2021 Footcandle Film Festival. The event will consist of the authors discussing their work and their writing process, a table reading of a portion of their winning scripts, and a Question-and-Answer session.


A screening committee will evaluate and select films to be presented at the Footcandle Film Festival with entrants being notified of their status during the month of July 2021. An estimated 30 to 40 films (a combination of feature-length and short films) will be selected for invitation to screen during the festival weekend.

In the weeks leading up to the festival weekend, a jury will view and select the Festival winners (in the categories of Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Feature & Best Documentary Short). The awards will be announced at the end of the festival on Sunday night. The Audience Favorite Feature & Audience Favorite Short awards will be decided by audience voting throughout the festival weekend and also announced at the closing reception.

Criteria for Submission:
• All entries must be postmarked no later than May 24th, 2021 for submission.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2019.
• All films must be in English or have English subtitles. Non-subtitled or dubbed foreign language films will not be considered.
• All clearances must be obtained for exhibition.
• Entries should be submitted through FilmFreeway (online submission). If any reason prohibits a filmmaker from using the online service, a DVD can be mailed to the Film Society with a label indicating the title and running time.
• Only the Producer, Director, Screenwriter or someone closely connected to the film may complete the application. Schools may submit films on behalf of student filmmakers.

Filmmakers whose films are accepted for competition will be notified by email by approximately July 19th, 2021.


Writers of any age may enter provided that contest entry by minors is not prohibited by law in your local jurisdiction.

All scripts must be submitted in English. Our Judges cannot evaluate screenplays written in foreign languages.

Writers who reside in countries other than the United States are welcome to enter the contest; however, all scripts must be submitted in English and entry fees must be paid in U.S. dollars.

Accepted submissions are completed feature-length screenplays ONLY. No concepts or treatments.

Script documents should be submitted in PDF format only.

Pages must be numbered. Before you submit your script, please check to make sure there are no missing or duplicated pages.

Include a standard title page, listing the title of your script, the name of the author(s), mailing address, telephone number, and email address. This is for our administrative purposes only.

Please do not enclose synopses, casting suggestions, letters, resumes, or photos with your submission.

Entries must be original screenplays. Novels and stage plays are not eligible.

Scripts must be the original work of the author(s) and may not be encumbered by any third party. Scripts that have been sold, produced, or are currently under option are not eligible.

Adaptations of books, plays, or other source material written by another author are eligible for submission. We accept no liability for scripts that have been adapted from third party authors' work that may infringe intellectual property rights. It is the responsibility of the writer(s) to acquire rights to any adapted work prior to any public dissemination. Scripts adapted from your own books, plays, or another source material is eligible as well.

Entries must be transmitted electronically on or before midnight Eastern Time on the posted and publicized entry deadlines in order to qualify for that entry rate.

Once a script has been entered in the competition, under no circumstances will we accept substitutions of new drafts or corrected pages.

Judges, administrators, and independent contractors who work for the Footcandle Film Festival are not eligible to enter the competition, nor are their spouses or other immediate family members.

If chosen as either the first or second place winner of the Footcandle Scriptwriting Competition the authors will be required to appear to accept their award on Thursday, September 23rd at an event co-sponsored by The Visiting Writers Series of Lenoir-Rhyne University and the 2021 Footcandle Film Festival. The event will consist of the authors discussing their work, a table reading of a portion of their scripts, and a Question-and-Answer session.

Overall Rating
  • John Martins III

    My deep gratitude to the Footcandle Film Festival, and its co-directors, Alan Jackson and Chris Frye, for their kindness and professionalism in running a first-class Festival. My thanks also to Dr. Rand Brandes and Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, for their support and involvement with Footcandle. Thank you for honoring my screenplay, "The Fourth Psalm," with your second place award. Deeply appreciated. It was a pleasure "meeting" all of you. Attention all screenwriters: get on board the Footcandle Film Festival train. They arrived on time with all promises kept.

    October 2020
  • Michele Citoni

    The Covid-19 emergency did not prevent the organizers of the 2020 edition from creating an event of the highest quality. The communication, the care in the relationship with the participants and the solutions adopted to connect the directors with the audience were excellent. Sincere thanks to Alan Jackson, Chris Frye and all the staff. It was also very nice to know that there is a large community of film enthusiasts behind their work, which gives the festival a very real meaning. It was a pleasure to be in touch with this community, and I am very honored for the Best Documentary Short award given to my film "5x7".

    October 2020
  • Piotr Szkopiak

    Huge thanks for the fantastic support given to my film The Last Witness.

    October 2019
  • Phyllis Jackson

    We had a blast at Footcandle. The festival is impeccably curated with an informed, film-loving audience. Hope we’ll be back next year!

    October 2019
  • Bradley Bethel

    Footcandle is a model for how new, small-town film festivals should operate. The organizers take care of filmmakers and select good films for a quality venue. I hope to return every year!

    October 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Bradley! We appreciated your involvement with this year's festival, and hope to see you back with us next year.