The Grand Rapids Film Festival is looking for quality films that provide meaningful, constructive and encouraging entertainment, while harnessing the transformative power of film. Our vision is to implement regular events that promote content creation, funding, distribution and exhibition in one of two focus areas: quality entertainment or transformative.

Content focus areas:
Quality entertainment – A captivating story has the ability to connect viewers to emotions and ideas that might not be found in their daily experiences. Films provide a window to another world, an escape from the daily ‘grind’ and challenge viewers intellectually and emotionally, like no other medium. GRFF would like to encourage filmmakers to create content that is meaningful, constructive and encouraging while being entertaining.

Transformative – Challenging films addressing social issues, injustice, discord and polarizing voices have the power to transform viewers by creating awareness, offering solutions and calling for change. GRFF aims to use the transformative power of film to impact issues by presenting content containing balanced perspectives from
credible sources.

GRFF, as a contributing community organization with a responsibility to our audience, desires to champion deeply talented filmmakers who are aware of the full transformative power of their art. These filmmakers can transcend the 'easy road of attention grabbing' and really explore the development of their talent and message. At times, they will express themselves in a merely entertaining manner. At times, they will advocate a cause or a message of challenge and call for change. This is the type of filmmaker GRFF builds a festival around and develops.

"Best Of" for each category for both student and regular submissions.
Michigan awards for both categories.
Cash prizes in lieu of trophies.

To be eligible for the Grand Rapids Film Festival, films must comply with the following:
• The film must have been completed on or after June 1, 2015.
• The film must be available for screenings during the Festival in April 2018

Each submitted film goes through an involved judging process, and is screened in its entirety by at least three members of the selection committee. Selected films have been seen 6-15 times by members of the screening committees, programming staff, and juries.
Films submitted to the Grand Rapids Film Festival are judged on their overall artistic and technical quality. Additionally, each film must be engaging and entertaining, but do more than simply entertain. Selected films have a transformative power that impacts audiences by educating, inspiring, challenging or shifting perspectives.

• There must not be a screening fee attached to the film. GRFF will only pay a screening fee to solicited content featured in the Festival.
• GRFF requires a digital file for every feature film. The file must be at least Apple ProRes 422 (or equivalent) and 1080p. The file may be delivered on hard drive (unencrypted) or we can extract the file from an HDCAM (no HDCAM SR).
• Short films must be available in one of the following formats: HDCAM or Apple ProRes 422 (or equivalent) on a flash drive, hard drive or other digital media. All films must have a resolution of 1080p.
• Films that have had a theatrical release, a television broadcast within the United States or a release through an on-demand outlet such as Netflix, Amazon On-Demand or any other outlets that are available in Michigan prior to the Festival dates are not eligible to be named Finalists, but may be considered for “Special Presentation” screenings. Films with a theatrical release, television broadcast or available on-demand outside of the USA are eligible to screen as “Official Selections” and are eligible to be named Finalists.
• The film cannot require dual projection (interlock) or separate soundtracks.
• Non-English films must be subtitled.

In addition to the eligibility requirements listed above, filmmakers must comply with the following submission rules to be considered as a Finalist in their respective category:
• The submitting filmmaker must be either the producer or director of the film.
• Entries are accepted through
• A completed official entry on must be digitally signed by the filmmaker.
• Payment of the non-refundable entry fee must accompany the submission.
o Payment can be made by credit card, check or money order payable in US dollars to Grand Rapids Film Festival, Inc. The filmmaker will be responsible for bank fees associated with any check returned to GRFF by the bank as unpaid.
• All items on the materials checklist (below) must be provided by the entry deadline.
• Feature films must be submitted via Region 1 or Region 0 DVD. (Note: GRFF does not accept prints or arrange screenings as a form of submission.)
• Short films (including HSFC submissions) must be submitted via Region 1 or Region 0 DVD or a link to a functional streaming video file on VIMEO. All streaming submissions must be HD (720p or 1080p). If the quality of the link is not high enough, you will be required to send us a DVD of your film. Links may be included in the FilmFreeway cover letter.
• Multiple submissions must be provided as individual submissions. A compilation DVD is not acceptable.

All DVD entries must be shipped to:
Grand Rapids Film Festival
1760 Eastbrook St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

GRFF recommends shipping DVDs in either a box or bubble-packed envelope to ensure safe delivery. Please check all DVDs before shipping to ensure that they will work on an average American DVD or Blu-ray player.

All entries must submit the following information to be considered for the Festival:
• Film on DVD (Region 0 or 1) labeled with title, filmmaker name, filmmaker email address, contact number, run time and FilmFreeway submission number.
• Narrative Features and Documentary Features must submit 2 copies of the film; short films only need to submit one (1) copy.
• Link (for short films only) – if applicable, to a functional streaming video file (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) in high definition 720p or 1080p. If the link is password-protected, please provide the password.
• Completed and digitally signed submission on
• Entry fee.
• Optional items that may be included:
o Self-addressed stamped postcard for GRFF to verify receipt of entry.
o Self-addressed stamped envelope for return of DVD(s). (Note: DVD(s) will be returned only if this is included.)

All selected films must provide all of the following items by March 1, for promotion of the film in GRFF's print materials, website and media kit:
• A trailer of the film (a short clip is acceptable for selected Short Films). It must be Apple ProRes 422 (or equivalent) and 1080p. Standard definition (480p resolution or lower) clips/trailers will not be accepted.
• Three (3) original DVD copies of the film for GRFF's library to be used for promotion of the Festival and historical archive purposes.
• One (1) head shot of each filmmaker or cast member who may be attending the Festival – 300 dpi and 4 in (h) x 6 in (w) or 1200 pixels (h) x 1800 pixels (w).
• Biography of 50 words or less for each filmmaker, principal cast member or featured individual expected to attend.
• Twitter handles, Facebook/website URL for director/crew and film for social media promotion.

Selected films (shorts and features) must provide a digital file of the film for exhibition by March 1, 2018. Files must be at least Apple ProRes 422 (or equivalent) and 1080p. Files may be delivered on unencrypted hard drive or HDCAM (no HDCAM SR).
Two Blu-ray backups and two DVD backups must be provided for each film, in case of issues with the primary exhibition format. Otherwise, no Blu-rays, DCPs or 35mm prints will be screened at the Festival.

The Grand Rapids Film Festival reserves the right to screen your film in the significantly lower quality DVD format if your film is not delivered in a timely manner. GRFF will return film prints and media in the two weeks following the Festival.

*a note about waivers
Please, do not email the festival asking for a fee waiver. Filmmakers who are confident that their work meets our guidelines and content areas should demonstrate this by submitting through formal means. There is an expense attached to exhibition and promotion, which GRFF absorbs on your behalf. The submission fee is the filmmaker's contribution toward this.
International films from filmmakers in developing countries may be the only exception, however priority will be given to those who contributed financially.

Overall Rating
  • Mark Marchillo

    Jen, the Festival Organizer was very accommodating to all of the filmmakers; especially the ones coming from out of state. She was able to sequester interviews with local TV stations; giving the festival and the filmmakers a little press. She had a few people on her committee that were very helpful too as far as helping her organize the events and shuttle filmmakers from their hotel to the venues. Several events took place prior to the weekend of the festival. A large wind storm had knocked power out to the banquet hall and the surrounding community the day of the opening event. Instead of canceling they rented Generators in order to light everything up and show the presentation - The show must go on! They really worked hard to make t happen! I just wish there was more community collaboration. There was no advertisements in town that there was a film festival going on and all the local colleges and universities did assist in getting the word out about the festival happening in their community to the Filmmaking and Performing Arts Community which is centrifugal when it comes to being successful in the arts - Spreading the word - especially to College Students is very important. Grand Rapids is big in Arts so more collaboration with the arts communities and this can be the next Telluride and bigger than Traverse City.

    June 2017
  • J Paul Preseault

    What a fantastic town and festival. Historic theatre was really great, serving local craft beer a big bonus. The festival staff was very helpful and quick to respond to any questions - great communication all around. After party rocked.

    May 2017
  • Swoop Films

    Great Festival organizers, they also helped promote our film to niche markets

    April 2017
  • Always an honor to be a part of this wonderful festival. It surrounds you with filmmakers and audiences that truly care deeply about film and the makers of those projects.

    April 2017