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 16th Annual Harlem International Film Festival (Hi XVI). 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 NY. We award the best local work and hope you will join us for the magic in May 2021.

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.

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 and Mira Nair, 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 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 ; or films about Harlem, Upper Manhattan or the Bronx and their incredible history.

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. The place where magic happens!

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 Award and several Screenplay Awards.

- 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 materials.

Once accepted 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
  • Loved the lineup of films and the Hi team did a really impressive job of transitioning the festival online. Excellent communication and organization.

    December 2020
  • Ms. Monique Berkley

    Even during the pandemic it was an honor to screen at the HIFF's virtual experience. Great care and support of the filmmakers and their works were still important to the festival. For that I am super grateful...thank you so much!

    November 2020
  • Harlem is such a great festival and they went above and beyond to make this virtual event an experience to remember for the filmmakers.
    Kudos to Harlem! Congrats!

    October 2020
  • Michele Noble

    Putting on a film festival during COVID is a challenge. Harlem Film Festival rose to the challenge and succeeded in creating a truly wonderful film festival highlighting underrepresented stories and filmmakers of independent cinema. We were honoured and grateful to have our film, Reclamation: The Rise at Standing Rock included. Danielle Alonzo moderated a great Q&A for our film dealing with social justice issues. We are sad COVID made it so we didn't get to experience all that Harlem has to offer but we felt the film festival did an excellent job at supporting the films and filmmakers during this most difficult and uncertain time. Look forward to submitting to Harlem Film Festival in the future. It is one of the best film festivals on the circuit.

    October 2020
  • Odile Renoir

    For the 2020 edition of Hi Festival (Covid context) the festival team managed with great success to propose an attractive online edition/competition, including a unique selection of high quality independent films worldwide. What we loved in particular is the diversity of films/perspectives proposed on today’s world and challenges. Our feature film Haingosoa produced between France and Madagascar won the Best Film Award, giving us great visibility to continue the diffusion in the USA, in Europe and in Africa. This international festival really worth it.

    September 2020