Humans of Film Festival is a give-voice & Awareness film festival where human beings and their living environment are the focus point. In a society and a world that is increasingly polarizing and xenophobic in social and political terms, it is important to create spaces for encounters, where stories are told and shared that live amongst humans but aren't sufficiently heard.

Through film, people can meet each other, and people who they wouldn’t otherwise meet. It is important to take the time for these encounters to get to know each other's perspectives and experiences better. Through documentaries, features, and short films we can provide a voice that gives insight into the lives, missions, situations, and goals of others that can generate awareness for various causes. Such as human rights, social justice, women empowerment, LGBTQ empowerment, anti-discrimination themes, and much more.

*** 2021 | THE COMING YEAR’S TOPIC ***

Even though we accept all sorts of topics, this coming festival edition we want to focus on films that regard discrimination and racism. 2020 has been a turbulent year for the entire world. The pandemic situation that we are living in has flared up issues that have always been present, but have become even more visible this year. That is why we want to give focus to films about the abnormal spike of racism that many Asians faced when Covid-19 started spreading around the world, the Black Lives Matter protests as even police brutality against POC's continued in these difficult times, the LGBTQ right’s protests in Eastern Europe and other countries that attempt to create LGBTQ free zones, and also gender-based violence and discrimination which took a surge during the worldwide lockdowns.

This does not mean that we do not accept films of other topics or similar subjects that happen in entirely different areas from the ones mentioned above. We still want to display a wide variety of subjects and themes.


Humans of Film Festival derives from the Humans of Film Amsterdam street photography blog, a platform where personal stories of Amsterdam residents are shared. This project shares the personal impact that film can have on people and how they can find representation and recognition. It also gradually reveals the lack of diversity in the film landscape.

From this starting point, initiator Feargal Agard started a film festival that focuses on the so-called ‘human interest films,’ a niche that was still missing in the Dutch film festival scene. ‘Human interest’ refers to films that focus on people, their experiences, and the environment that they live in. Humans of Film festival first started out with a pilot film festival edition, consisting of short films, screened at VOX POP, a creative space at the University of Amsterdam. In 2020, we had our first official edition at LAB 111, a cult cinema in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. We screened six feature films and seven shorts and despite the pandemic, it was a total success.

Humans of Film Festival is organized by Foundation | Stichting Humans of Film.


This second edition we will have a Jury Award for Best Short and Best Feature film/documentary and an Audience Award for Best Short and Best Feature film/documentary.

You will receive the Award(s), the laurels, and of course exposure.

Besides that, we will invite distributors to encourage them to pick up films for distribution.

The films submitted through FilmFreeway when selected to be shown at the film festival will automatically enroll for the competition for either the Jury & Audience Awards or they will be part of the official selction or our forum.

NOTE!: You can also download the pdf from our website.


We are overtly looking for documentaries (shorts & features), but of course, we also screen fiction films (shorts & features). The films that we screen have a strong ‘human interest’ connection, consisting of portrait documentaries, observational documentaries, fly on the wall documentaries, and insightful fictional films. The films that we select also empower, represent, and raise awareness in the most ethical sense. It is crucial that these films give voice to the protagonists as much as possible.

We are looking for films about the following subjects and themes:

Human rights | Social justice | Socio-economic issues | Environment & climate change | Women’s rights and empowerment | LGBTQ+ rights and empowerment | Racism & discrimination | Animal rights | Urban issues | Health & disabilities | Refugee rights & Immigration | Local issues (Amsterdam) | Gender roles & equality

We are looking for films about:

Human individuals on a mission to change something in their village, city, country or in the world. Or who have an important message to the world or society.

People living in particular circumstances that need to change and where they attempt to make a difference.

Where the attempt is to raise awareness about the environment.

People, communities, (sub)-cultures that we otherwise would never see or hear of.

We are looking for:

Innovative, modern documentaries and fiction films full of perspectives.

Documentaries and fiction films with a clear protagonist that we always come back to and that we connect with.

Films where the people who are the main subject of the film are given a voice and speak for themselves.

Films that are specifically made to create awareness; overtly pertaining to an individual or group/subculture through whose cinematic journey we become aware of particular issues, situations, difficulties, discoveries, concerns, passions, and much more.

Films that regard the filmmaker’s own journey and also show the filmmaker on-screen as being part of the documentary.


We really want to avoid films where there is too much direction that prevents people from speaking freely. We want to get the same feeling in fiction films, even though those are scripted it is still possible to have an approach where a character is really given a voice to represent the story and situations of real people. Besides that, we want to create a unique festival and cinematic experience.

We are not looking for:

Films that have no ‘human (animal) interest’ focus.
( ‘Human Interest’; a quality of a story or report, as in a newspaper or on a newscast, that engages attention and sympathy by enabling one to identify readily with the people, problems, and situations described).

Overt talking heads or interview-based documentary styles.

Overtly narrated documentary and fiction films.

Films that represent pure entertainment!

YouTube documentaries and films.

Blockbusters, where the spectacle and FX are the main focus.

Fantasy, horror, action, and comedy film genres, etc, that have no human interest focus at all. (There is always room for exceptions, but that will be based on how much it connects to the festival’s goal, the level of ‘human interest’. It is important to note that the film committee will decide and their decision is final and not up for discussion).

!!!NOTE!!! It is important to know that if your film happens to touch one of the subjects, themes, or criteria points do not mean that your film by definition embodies what we are looking for. For example, if your film is about an environmental issue, but solely or overtly consists of talking heads & interview-based footage material. That could still be a reason for the film committee to not select a film. Understanding that we are looking for films that touch base with a variety of the aforementioned criteria points should avoid discussion when your film isn’t selected.


Your film has to be made in the past 2 years. At the moment it should have been completed in either 2019 or 2020. (we will make an exception for films completed in 2018 in regard to the pandemic).

We will not accept films that have been screened a year ago or longer at major film festivals in the Netherlands. If the film is to be screened a few months prior to ours then it's okay to submit.

Do not hide information, such as the festivals that your film(s) has been screened at. We noticed that some submitters removed the names of a Dutch film festival from their festival list, to avoid being judged on the aforementioned rule that we will not accept films that have been screened a year ago or longer at major film festivals in the Netherlands. The film festival scene in the Netherlands is quite a small circle and we can therefore easily find out.

The following films are LESS likely or NOT going to be accepted since it is more often difficult to translate or convey a ‘human interest’ focus through these type of films: pure entertainment films, big blockbuster films, pure action movies, fantasy films, animation films, horror films, cartoons, video essays, experimental, romance, silent films, TV formatted documentaries, multimedia/video art installations or music videos.
(If you are certain that your film meets the festival’s goal, even though it’s genre is mentioned above, please feel free to submit. Again, it is important to note that the film committee will decide and their decision is final and not up for discussion).

We are not looking for documentary films that heavily rely on interview-based settings, a lot of text on-screen and overtly show ‘talking heads’. A minimal amount is okay, but we prefer innovative documentary formats and styles that show the POV of the protagonist(s) in your documentary. A format that gives voice to the people in your documentary. This is more easily achieved in portrait and observational documentary films.

We will not consider one-word submissions. If you cannot passionately explain to us why your film literally gives voice to a person or people if you can't explain how and about what you are trying to create awareness, or why you made a portrait documentary about a person on a mission to change something, then how could we be passionate enough to consider your film? Please think about that.

It is preferred that you completely, correctly, and truthfully fill out your entire FilmFreeway account and film submission profile. All the information, links, and stills should be in your profile. We do not know you and sometimes it is very difficult to consider a film when you don’t have much information. So a fully completed profile could broaden your chances of being selected.

The festival's main objective is to create exposure for your film and the message that your film carries. Screening fees, DCP shipping costs, file mail DCP transferring, possible travel, and hotel costs, will be discussed when your film is selected. You will then be informed of what the current subsidiary situation at that moment is. As a young festival, we are dependent on the subsidies received from Dutch subsidies institutions.

The submission fees stand as a symbol that should make you think and consider if your film really is what we are looking for in this edition. That is why it is important to compare your film to all the rules, terms, criteria, and descriptions on this page. If we wouldn't place a fee, we would receive too many films that do not even apply to any of the rules, criteria, and terms that we have set. Besides that, the fee that you pay supports the film festival.

The submission fee is non-refundable. Submitting your film to our film festival automatically means that you have read everything and that you comply and agree with the rules, criteria, descriptions, and terms that we've set and described on this page.

In regard to waiver codes: We generally are keeping the submission fees low, which is why we usually do not give out waivers. We, therefore, ask you not to mail us to ask or demand a waiver code. Only in very extreme circumstances do we consider giving a waiver code. We generally do not give them out of appreciation of our film committee volunteers for the hard work they put into the selection process. If you still wish to apply due to severe financial difficulties, please email us with a detailed reason. We will not respond to waiver code requests just for the sake of it'.

We do not accept films that spread hate or division, polarization, (confirmation) bias, cherry-picking, discrimination, and racism to anyone. We would rather accept films that study, try to create understanding, and give voice.

Although it is highly preferred to receive films of a high and good quality grade, as we live in Amsterdam which is an international and very competitive capital city, there is a slight chance that we are open to receiving films that might not be up to industry standards. (For example, films filmed with a low-quality camera or cell phone will ONLY be considered if it’s of great significance; for example: Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan (2007) was entirely shot on a cellphone, but it is a film of great significance which could be the exception. But this is something for the film committee to decide).

You must own all the film rights of all the footage and images shown in the film. No matter how small or brief something (copyrighted objects) might be on screen. You must also show proof of this and sign a form. Humans of Film Festival will not partake and stand for copyright infringement. It is not allowed!

You must have legal permission to use music and/or songs in your film. Or own all the music rights. You must show proof of this.

Humans of Film Festival fact checks and does extensive background checks to make sure that you own the rights and that there is no copyright infringement. Your film could be disqualified if there are legal issues.

Overall Rating
  • María Lobo

    Honoured because our film was part of the festival, touched after an emotional Q&A session, amazed and thankful after receiving the Award from the audience <3 I just wish to be able to assist physically for next edition, thanks so much!

    November 2021
  • Eddie Shieh

    Had honour of screening my film HOME FREE as well as some meaningful conversations with Feargal. Human is a wonderful festival with a greater purpose. I hope to be back and in person. Thank you again,

    October 2021
  • Catherine Meyburgh

    Such an important festival. Thank you for a great Q&A and all the support.

    October 2021
  • Tal Amiran

    Humans of Film Festival is a fantastic festival, with excellent programming and great communication. Due to Covid I wasn’t able to attend the festival this year but I was grateful that my short doc Dafa Metti won Best Short Film at the festival. Highly recommended festival!

    October 2021
  • Victoria Malinjod

    AMAZING FESTIVAL!!! Thanks again for everything!

    October 2020