The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival was established with the artistic vision to provide a platform for talented independent filmmakers, screenwriters, and actors from the African Diaspora expose their work to a diverse audience in Greater Cleveland.

As a film festival, GCUFF identifies emerging talents and established artists who are contributing to the cinematic legacy of African Americans. GCUFF also provides educational opportunities aimed to inspire and encourage individuals that are considering a career in the film industry and to gain a deeper appreciation for the arts.

GCUFF believes that films can lead to a better understanding and communication between, people of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles while simultaneously serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issue of our times.

Non-monetary prizes awarded in the following categories:
Outstanding Narrative Feature
Outstanding Documentary Feature
Outstanding Narrative Short
Outstanding Documentary Short
Audience Choice Award

Film Submission Rules
1. Festival programming staff will select and invite films at their discretion. Entrants will be notified, if selected, via phone call or email, on or before July 10, 2023. Please feel free to email us regarding your film's status.
2. If selected, filmmakers are expected to provide most of the following: (a) Exhibition Format: DCP or digital file formats electronically (b) Full press kit including film stills and director photo (slides, hard copies, or digital TIFF files of minimum 300 dpi on disk or emailed); synopsis; full production credits; and director biography. Additional collateral material including postcards, posters, etc. may be included if available. (c) Clips or trailers to be used for press, promotion, and awards ceremony.
3. Selected films may be screened multiple times during the course of the Festival at the GCUFF’s discretion. Your press kit material and film may be used to promote the following year's event.
4. NOTE: The GCUFF is not responsible for lost films or damage to any films during shipping, handling, or screening.
Screening Fees
The festival will not waive fees and generally does not pay rental fees. We are devoted to using our resources for the best showcase and promotions of your work with the intent for the broadest distribution possible of your work.
We do not offer monetary awards. Our festival will have the opportunity to present awards to filmmakers and actors in competition:

Submit entries prepaid, including applicable customs fees via FedEx, UPS, or U.S. Post Office, etc.
Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival
Attn: Donna Dabbs, Executive Director
11327 Shaker Blvd Suite 500W
Cleveland, Ohio 44104
Phone: 216 -338-5010

Selected filmmakers are responsible for delivery of exhibition prints or videos to our offices by the date designated at time of selection notification.

Please email submission questions to:
2023 Festival Dates: Sept 14th – Sept 22nd
Submission Fees and Deadlines
A completed application and entry fee must accompany each entry. There are no exceptions to the entry fee. Entries must be postmarked per the following deadlines:
• Deadline: May 31, 2023
• Entry/Fee:
o $40 Early Entry
$45 Regular
o $50 Late
• Entry fees are not refundable. Make payment by check or money order
in US dollars (only) payable to: Greater Cleveland Film Foundation (GCUFF)
Film Genres
The festival accepts films/videos in the following genres: dramatic feature, dramatic short, comedy, comedy short, documentary feature, documentary short, LGBT, animation, Christian, and music video. Festival programming staff may use their discretion to place your film in the appropriate category.
Eligibility/Rules of Entry
Films/videos entered into competition must be directed, produced, or principally acted by an artist of African descent in the USA or in any country, or by a person born in any country in Africa, or whose subject matter relates to African American culture or any cultures of Africa (including Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, etc.) regardless of race. Clarify questions of eligibility prior to submission of entry. Each project entered into the festival must pay an entry fee. There is no limit to the number of qualifying entries by any entrant so long as an entry form and fee accompanies each entry. Foreign language entries must be subtitled with English sub-titles. Entrants shall obtain all licenses, royalties, and permits necessary to present their work. Entrants will assume all costs arising from the use of patented, trademarked, franchised or copyrighted music, materials, devices, processes, or dramatic rights used in production of work. Entries previously exhibited on the Internet are eligible for entry so long as they meet the above requirements.
Legal Notice: By submitting your film, you're representing that you are duly authorized to submit your film and commit it for screening at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival and hereby do so in consideration of a submission fee and the festival's promise to screen your film, if selected. Accordingly, this shall constitute a binding agreement between the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival and you as the applicant or filmmaker. If your film is selected, you shall submit a DCP or digital file formats electronically within 10 days and adhere to all rules and regulations of the festival. You agree to hold the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival harmless from damage to or loss of the screening/exhibition copy enroute or otherwise during the course of the festival's possession of the film. You understand and agree that the Cleveland Urban Film Festival is not obligated to return any film not personally retrieved at the close of screening. Should any liability or damage result or legal action commence, stemming from the submission and/or exhibition of your film, you agree to indemnify the Cleveland Urban Film Festival and its affiliates, and waive any claims. By submitting your film, you are confirming that you have read and fully understand the above terms and conditions and further agree that the submission constitutes your electronic signature upon receipt by the festival.
Feature and Short Definition
A feature is any work with a running time of 60 minutes or longer. Less than Sixty minutes running time designates a short.
Submission Materials
All entries must include the following: (a) DCP formatted film copy labeled with title of project, director, contact telephone number, and running time. (b) MP4 formatted copy of film to be uploaded on our virtual platform. (c) Digital stills of film. (d) Entry Fee. The festival will not return screening copies unless entrant includes a pre-paid mailer (FedEx, UPS, etc.) This pre-paid mailer should be submitted at the time of submission of your screening copy). However, you can provide your pre-paid mailer after the festival ends.
How to Qualify
The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival rules of entry define qualifying work and filmmakers. Entry to the Festival affirms understanding and acceptance by the filmmaker of all rules of entry.

Overall Rating
  • One of the best festivals out there; communications were clear and precise from the beginning, the volunteers were helpful and knowledgeable, and the administrators were as good as any I have worked with. A wonderful festival. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    October 2022
  • GCUFF was an awesome experience for me and my crew. We traveled from Las Vegas to Cleveland. We love the Shaker Square area where the film festival is held and Donna Dabbs and her team are stellar. They are worked tirelessly with a smile. Everyone was incredible. Our film screened, we had a Q/A after and there was many opportunities for meet and greet. We developed many high quality contacts from attending the festival. Excellent work.

    October 2022
  • Glenn Robinson

    This film festival was extremely rough. Communication was not good, When emailing to ask questions, they would respond days late. When asking to confirm location information and dates, I never got a response back. I had also submitted my short film's poster and never got a response. When I contacted them again asking if they had received it I again got no response and my poster was never used during the festival.

    The day of the festival, a friend arrived to show support. When going to check on his car, he found a man breaking into it. I am not sure why they chose such a bad location.

    Also, during the block my short was apart of, there were supposed to be six shorts altogether and only five played. After the fifth, we sat in the dark for five minutes confused. Eventually, someone behind me asked "Was that the last one?" when I turned to look back, they asked me again. I then realized they were wearing a GCUFF crew shirt. How would an even organizer not know if he played all the short films in the block? Considering we had to pay to be apart of the festival, I'm sorry for the sixth filmmaker, as they paid to have their short film be apart of the festival and no one saw it.

    I did not know it until that night, but there was also a vote for best short film. After leaving the theater room, several people began walking up to me and apologizing, because though mine appeared on the list to vote for, the were not allowed to vote for it for whatever technical difficulties there were.

    If you're going to submit to GCUFF, really think about it before doing so.

    October 2022
  • Diane Moore

    I wasn't able to attend the festival but was so excited to learn that our film CONDUCTING LIFE won the Best Short Documentary award at the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. Such an honor to receive this award. The staff was wonderful to work with and it was a great experience from a filmmaker's perspective. Thank you GCUFF for your support and encouragement.

    September 2022
  • Selton Shaw

    Simply put, this is an incredible festival. The staff was courteous and professional. We had an amazing time and were honored to screen "America Gone Viral". The GCUFF team was outstanding!

    September 2022