The International Ocean Film Festival (IOFF) is the premier ocean film festival of its kind in the world.

Now in its 18th year, IOFF has produced an acclaimed festival of independent ocean-related films from all over the world. Themes range from ocean adventure, science, marine life, sports and ocean coastal cultures. The films are not only intended to entertain the audience, but more importantly, to educate and encourage active participation in ocean-specific environmental efforts and better ocean stewardship.

The 18th Annual IOFF will be an online virtual film festival and also be an in-person festival, taking place on March 11- 14, 2021 at Cowell Theater in Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture located along the northern waterfront of San Francisco, California. The multi-day film festival will feature an Opening Night Reception, an Awards Program, and a Wrap Party to finalize the event. The entire festival consists of 10 to 12 programs with each program containing approximately 3 to 4 films. Special programs may focus on topics such as marine wildlife, ocean conservation efforts, environmental issues, coastal cultures and how they engage with the ocean, surfing, sharks, diving, and other subject matter depending on the variety and number of submissions. Programs will include post-screening filmmaker Q&A sessions as well as panel discussions with ocean specialists, scientists, industry experts, filmmakers and more.

A number of finalists from the main film festival program will be selected to participate in the world-renowned IOFF Traveling Program.

Two major events of the IOFF make up the Education Program, namely the 15th Annual Free Student Education Program, which includes free screenings for middle school and high schools students, and the 10th Annual Student Film Competition for middle school and high school students, with a dedicated program screening the top finalists and cash prizes for the top three winners in each category.

*Photo Credit: Manfred Bartoli

Every year, the IOFF presents awards to one winning filmmaker in each of the following categories: Adventure, Animation, Coastal Cultures, Conservation, Director's Award, Environment, Short, Marine Science/Wildlife, Golden Gate Award (for a local Bay Area filmmaker) and an Audience Award.

**Please select only ONE category per film submission and submit only ONE entry fee per film submission, however, please note that each submission will be considered for all categories.

If your film is selected to be a part of the 2021IOFF, you will receive a variety of perks as follows;
• Access for you and one guest to the Opening Night Reception (Thursday, March 11th), all screenings, panel discussions, workshops and Wrap Party (includes other events as they come online)
• Discounted or complimentary) hotel lodging with our hotel sponsor, depending on availability
• Opportunities to engage with the press and media
• Opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the audience each time your film is screened
• Potential for your film to be selected for the IOFF Traveling Program

By submitting your films to the IOFF, you hereby grant permission for IOFF to use it for the following purposes:

Stills: Still images from the films will be used on the website, printed materials, banners, and other promotional materials. Please submit one high-resolution headshot of the filmmaker in JPG format.

Clips: Clips of submitted films may be used to promote IOFF by appearing on the IOFF website, in the IOFF annual trailer, possible partnership websites, third-party advertising sponsors (i.e., television spots, newspaper print, magazine ads, etc.)

Trailer: IOFF may request a short trailer for films over 10 minutes (electronically or on DVD) for promotional purposes.

Interim Screenings: In addition to possibly being screened at IOFF during the stated festival dates, accepted films may be screened throughout the year for promotional purposes, as a separate screening in cooperation with other IOFF partnership organizations, and at the IOFF traveling program.

• All submissions must be ocean themed.
• All works must be in English or have English subtitles. Entries can be any genre – documentary, narrative fiction, or animation – and can be submitted by professional or amateur filmmakers.
• We have limited program slots for films longer than 60 minutes, but all submissions of this length and longer will be taken into consideration.
• If your film is 50 minutes or longer, it would be helpful for our reviewing process if you also send us a DVD (not Blu-ray).
• Film must be completed by the deadline date in which they are being submitted. Works in progress will not be accepted, and edits to films after they have been submitted will not be allowed.
• More than one film may be submitted, but a separate entry fee must be paid for each.
• IOFF does not pay screening fees or shipping fees in order to screen a film, nor does IOFF underwrite production costs (duplication, subtitling, etc.).
• Upon completion of the Festival selection process, we will attempt to contact the Applicant using the contact information provided on the submission form to notify the Applicant of the Film’s acceptance status. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure that the contact information provided on the submission form is correct throughout the entirety of the selection period (July 2020 – March 2021).
• IOFF is under no obligation to provide to the Applicant or any other representative of the Film any comments or feedback regarding the submitted Film should it not be accepted for exhibition at the Festival.

Overall Rating
  • Abbott & Leland Productions

    With only a week from the opening of this year’s annual festival, the disappointing but wise decision was made to cancel the OIFF and jump into new territory to create a virtual festival at a later date. The OIFF team, Anna and Shannon did an amazing job in only a few months. Excellent films and the Q & A’s allowed audiences to connect with the filmmakers and learn more about the films subject with specialist in the field. Thanks to Brian Baird for moderating my Q & A and all of us at Every Second Breath Project are honored to receive the “Short Award” for Dick Ogg: Fisherman. Thank you for your important message advocating for a healthy ocean. As a filmmaker and a faithful attendee for ten years, I highly recommend this festival.

    September 2020
  • Ann Bernier

    Having a festival screen your work is important to identify the audience for your film and build community response. We were delighted with the reception we received for our film 'The Mill' at the International Ocean Festival. It was wonderful to realize our film touched people on the other side of the continent. The staff, Ana and Shannon, were great to deal with and the online Q&A was expertly facilitated and a lot of fun. The enormous importance of the world's oceans makes the thematic of this festival especially relevant today and an important gathering place for films with such a focus.

    September 2020
  • Carolina Butrich

    Participating in 2020 IOFF was a wonderful experience. Shanon, Ana, and the whole IOFF team, tackled the difficulties of adapting to doing a virtual film festival perfectly, and created an amazing online festival that allow us to connect with viewers and filmakers. Thanks so much for your work on connecting, inspiring and engaging ocean lovers around the world.
    Big congrats and would definitely recommend this festival!

    September 2020
  • gemma cubero

    A beautiful experience all througout! Thank you Ana and Shannon and our wonderful Q&A Moderator Nicquole Esters! What was supposed to be a live event was transformed into a effective virtual festival allows us to connect with viewers around the world, network with filmmakers from other continents and watch very informative and fun Q&A with the makers of the films and the teams involved around the globe. Big congrats IOFF 2020 you showed me the benefits and wonders of virtual film festival and I so much appreciate how much you care the filmmakers, your audience and yes the many oceans!! Thank you from of all us at Talcual Films and Our Atoll Speaks! Gemma

    September 2020
  • Alexa Elliott

    I've had the opportunity to attend this festival in person twice and each time it was a wonderful experience. The audience in San Francisco is very interested and appreciative and the turnout was always great. This year, Ana, Shannon and the entire festival team really went above and beyond to move the festivities online and they pulled it off marvelously. Ticket purchases and viewing were easy and the Q&As were an added bonus! As a filmmaker I highly recommend this festival.

    September 2020