Join scores of filmmakers and screenwriters from all over the world and have your work showcased in Harlem, Manhattan – in the heart of New York City!

As always, we do not shy away from passionate or even controversial work. In fact we encourage it.

The marriage of Little Africa to El Barrio, Jazz to Dance, History to Art, and cinema to one of the world's most vibrant communities signifies the 18th Annual Harlem International Film Festival (Hi XVIII). Home to New York City's richest cultural and academic institutions, landmarks, boutiques, parks and restaurants, Harlem is an experience that satisfies the five senses. As the epicenter of New York's current arts movement, Upper Manhattan and Harlem Int'l embody the New Harlem Renaissance.

The Festival has premiered works from today's most promising international filmmakers. Subject matter is varied and compelling: An IRA leader hiding out in a British-Jamaican neighborhood; A mother's life dedicated to her two sons, one with down-syndrome; A musician's journey through War ravaged Iraq; a Harlem Man's struggle with loss of love. Hi is a festival that truly embraces the beauty of diversity and is committed to representing it on our screens.

Keeping in line with its mission, Hi offers discounted admission to young filmmakers and work produced in Harlem or Upper Manhattan & the Bronx, about the area and its history or featuring key cast or crew members from Uptown New York City. We award the best local work and hope you will join us for the magic in May 2023.

In September 2005 the Festival opened in historic Harlem at Columbia University with the Renaissance Awards by honoring Oscar winning actress Susan Sarandon; Harlem's own Emmy Award-winning actor, Keith David; and Mira Nair, the Oscar-nominated Harlem based director of SALAAM BOMBAY and VANITY FAIR and initiated the Mira Nair Award for Rising Female Filmmaker the same year.

Hi has since become known as the festival that "brings the world to Harlem and Harlem to the world". Filmmakers and attendees have journeyed from across the globe to experience this four day event consisting of film screenings in state of the art facilities, celebrity-filled awards ceremonies, networking events and Harlem's unsurpassed night-life and history.

New York, known for its array of world class directors such as Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Mira Nair, and Stanley Nelson is also a mecca for aspiring auteurs. We offer audiences the opportunity to experience stories by New York's finest filmmakers featuring the City and its Burroughs in a uniquely artistic way.

All submission fees are heavily discounted for this category. Furthering our efforts to encourage continued recognition of the Harlem, Upper Manhattan and Bronx communities and the contribution of the numerous artists that reside within, Hi spotlights films produced or directed by local residents; films where at least 50% of the production has taken place in the area; or films about Harlem, Upper Manhattan or the Bronx and their legendary history, present and future.

In line with the Harlem Renaissance - the home of the foremost comprehensive art movement in US history ranging from poetry, literature, performance and painting to sculpture, music and cinema, Hi has established the Video-Art Space. With an abundance of contemporary art galleries and open spaces, Harlem serves as an ideal location to experience modern video art installations and Harlem360/ Virtual Reality.

The excitement and anticipation of the entire festival culminates during this final awards celebration crowning the leading international films and hosting directors from around the world. Join the magic!

Best Film, Best World Film, the Mira Nair Award for Rising Female Filmmaker, Best Documentary, Best World Documentary, Best Director, Best Documentary Director, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Animation, Best Experimental Film, Best Short, Best Documentary Short, Best Youth Film, Best Music Video, Best Webisode, Audience Award, the New York Vision Award, the Harlem Spotlight Awards, Uptown Awards and Screenplay Awards and Screenplay Showdown Competition.

- Works can be submitted regardless of when they were completed.
- Screenplays may be submitted online.
- Submissions do not have to be premieres to be selected for exhibition.
- Shorts are considered Documentary works 44 minutes and under and Narrative Fiction pieces are 59 minutes and under.
- Works in progress may be submitted, but only during the Late or Extended deadlines and only if the film will be completed for final review at least seven weeks before the Festival opening. The review committee will only watch one version of your film, so make it your latest/greatest cut possible.
- Films that have had a limited commercial theatrical run or other distribution are allowed to submit.

- There is no limit on number of works submitted, but each entry must be separate, appropriately labeled and accompanied by the required fee.
- Submit works online (preferable).

- In rare cases the filmmaker may have to provide another format version to be exhibited if the film cannot be programmed into a slot where the original format can be projected.
- Submitted screeners, screenplays and press materials will not be returned.
- The Harlem International Film Festival is not responsible for lost or damaged materials.


Upon selection applicant is requested to provide Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) with highest quality film format available, trailer, color film stills and posters, and any other available press and related materials.

Upon acceptance applicant gives Hi the right to use images and information from the film and trailer for all advertising and promotion purposes.

Submission of film indicates applicant's full intention to exhibit at the Harlem International Film Festival if selected for programming. As such, filmmaker waives the right to withdraw their film from the Harlem International Film Festival at any time for any reason.

Overall Rating
  • John Decker

    Exceptionally well organized and impressive screening venues. Very grateful to be a part of it.

    June 2023
  • julia Camara

    I had high hopes for this festival and was delighted to hear our film was accepted. Every email I sent went unanswered. I don't think my film ever played in the festival and there was never an update or explanation. I have no idea what happened with this festival. Still waiting for answers.

    June 2023
  • Harlem International Film Festival was a wonderful, high quality experience for our film, Leveling Lincoln. We were honored to receive the New York Vision award at our NYC premiere and the virtual platform was so easy to use that many of our followers were able to view the film during the festival from home. Thank you again!!!!!!!!

    July 2022
  • Magaly Colimon-Christopher

    The members of the HIFF team were very helpful and communicative. It was a pleasure.

    May 2022
  • Crystal Kwok

    Harlem was amazing! Warm , inclusive, and welcoming. Important space that recognized alternative voices like my film Blurring the Color Line. Thank you!

    May 2022