Indie Memphis pledges to move forward with the 2020 film festival. In these uncertain times, we will proceed with the event whether it is held in our usual venues, online in a virtual format, or a combination of both. All cash prizes will remain.

The 23rd annual Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., transforms the city into a connecting point for filmmakers, musicians, artists, and audiences from October 21 - October 26, 2020.

***MovieMaker Magazine's 2019 25 Coolest Film Festivals***

The festival brings a range of independent features, documentaries, and short films to Memphis from all corners of the world. The weekend portion of the festival features a block party in Midtown, the city's cultural and creative center, with all five screening venues a few steps away, creating an accessible community-friendly atmosphere unique on the festival circuit. Weeknight screenings are featured in a variety of venues and areas of the city.

Returning is the Black Creators Forum, a two-day symposium of workshops and invited speakers led by notable black filmmakers and critics with a wide interdisciplinary range, ending with a pitch event open to the public. The aim is to ease the barrier of entry for black artists to work in film. In 2019 the BCF was supported by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

The 2019 festival matched record attendance for over 250 films including features, shorts and music videos. Highlights included Jim Jarmusch in person for a 30th Anniversary screening of the Memphis-shot MYSTERY TRAIN, Jarmusch in conversation with New Yorker critic Richard Brody following a screening of THE DEAD DON’T DIE, top documentary prizes to the narrative DE LO MIO and documentary MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, a retrospective of the work of Sara Driver, an eclectic program of hybrid films in our Departures category, and a plethora of music films, video and live music, including a live, multi-venue block party takeover by Unapologetic.

Festival attendees have included Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, The Dead Don’t Die), Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You), Chris Elliot, Lakeith Stanfield, Amy Seimetz (Sun Don’t Shine, The Girlfriend Experience series), Rainn Wilson, Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose), Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship), Abel Ferarra (Ms. 45), Richard Brody (The New Yorker), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock), former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell (KCRW's The Treatment), Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams), Scott Mosier (Clerks, Chasing Amy), Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, The People vs Larry Flynt), Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice), Ira Sachs (Little Men), John Sayles (Matewan), Gary Clark, Jr. (Honeydripper), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Do The Right Thing), Ray McKinnon (Rectify), Barry Corbin (No Country For Old Men, Northern Exposure), Angela Bassett (What's Love Got To Do With It), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter), Bob Mondello (National Public Radio), and Ted Hope, Head of Production at Amazon Studios.

Indie Memphis also connects filmmakers and festival attendees to the live music scene that pulses through the city. We are one of the only festivals in the world to feature live music in the theater before every screening. Our new music film categories and music video showcase will expand our emphasis on collaboration between artists of all kinds.

One of our recent featured guests was musical icon Syl Johnson (Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows) who performed with the Bo-Keys at Minglewood Hall. Memphis musicians including various artists from Unapologetic, The Mighty Souls Brass Band, Jody Stepehens, Van Duren, Amy LaVere, The Maitre D's, Motel Mirrors, Caleb Sweazy, Luke White, Brennan Villines, Alex da Ponte, Chris Milam, Jason Freeman, Rev. John Wilkins, Jeff Hulett & Leah Keys, Tori Whodat, DJ Nyce, Graham Winchester, Paul Taylor, James Godwin, JD Reager, Singa B, Kip Uhlhorn, and more performed in theaters prior to screenings, our annual festival Block Party and at various festival parties and receptions throughout the week. Prior years have also featured special performances by visiting artists including the Alloy Orchestra, who performed their acclaimed live accompaniments to silent film classics The General and Man With A Movie Camera, and British singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, who closed the 2009 festival with an intimate solo concert at Malco Theatres' Studio on the Square.

Thrice named "one of the coolest film festivals around" by MovieMaker magazine and six times as a "Festival Worth the Entry Fee", the Indie Memphis Film Festival is a two-time Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences grant recipient and was named a "Top 20 Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society in 2012.

Audience and jury awards are presented across all categories, with winners receiving award sculptures designed and produced by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo. Jury awards include Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short and the Duncan-Williams Scriptwriting Award. Additionally, the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission presents the Hometowner award each year.

Word on the street:

“An embarrassment of riches… warm and friendly, yet also exciting and intense. Kind of like Memphis itself.”
- ROGEREBERT.COM by Sheila O'Malley

"Infused with the city’s warmth and buoyed by the local music acts (they play before each screening), ranks as one of the more satisfying regional film festivals around. Where else do you overhear folks debating BBQ and fried chicken houses while in line for the latest films by Kelly Reichardt and Raoul Peck?"

"A Visit to Indie Memphis is a Beautiful Dream"
- MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE travel log by director Lisanne Skyler (Brillo Box 3 cents off)

"Wow, this festival is on the up... used its community to create an engaging atmosphere and vibe that many much bigger festivals would benefit from having. This was a festival with a lot of soul."

"Indie Memphis is a fantastic, well-curated festival blessed with hometown strengths -- the city's special cultural and political history as well as its great food -- that other fests can only dream about."
~ SCOTT MACAULAY (editor-in-chief Filmmaker Magazine)

"A truly great stop for any filmmaker on their festival tour, with great audiences both local and global, who really invest in the ethos of the entire weekend. Indie Memphis is a festival with an eclectic program that challenges, inspires and always leaves you wanting more. Long may it continue. Films, music, food and craft beer. Is this heaven? No, it's Indie Memphis."
~ JUSTIN DOHERTY (co-founder Filmstock International Film Festival)

"Indie Memphis knows how to treat their filmmakers right. With trips to Graceland, Stax, and Sun Studios (and this year a Halloween party in an old brothel) they incorporate the amazing history of Memphis into a festival experience like no other. The receptions, screenings, and dedicated volunteers really make you feel like you are part of a community. Can't wait to come back!”
~ RYAN SCAFURO (director, 'Bending Steel')

"Indie Memphis is a unique blend of quality, truly independent filmmaking, cultural identity and a Memphis-centric curated experience. It's the only festival I can see a barrage of amazing films and hang out with incredible filmmakers; but at the same time tour Elvis Presley's mansion (plus an unparalleled amount of Elvis paraphernalia at a crazy man's house in Holly Springs, Mississippi), party at an allegedly haunted former bordello, gorge myself on buckets and buckets of Gus' Fried Chicken, and catch a Huskies game courtesy of some really rad volunteers. Indie Memphis is more than just a film festival; it's a complete history of Memphis over a long weekend.”
~ ADAM DONAGHEY ('Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self')

"Indie Memphis has so much that I look for in a film festival: programming with a thoughtful and idiosyncratic point of view that reflects its leadership, and reaches out to promising new filmmakers whose work has an unmistakable sense of place; an excited and eager community that attends the films in force looking to be surprised by the fare, rather than congratulated for coming out; and, oh yeah, barbecue."
~ ELVIS MITCHELL (host of KCRW's 'The Treatment')

"I've had screenings of my films all around the world. I've watched my films premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, as well as the Prince's Palace in Marrakech. But there has never been an experience to equal my premiere at Indie Memphis."
~ CRAIG BREWER ('Hustle & Flow') on premiering his debut feature, 'The Poor & Hungry,' at Indie Memphis in 2000

Across all categories, select films will be in competition for juried awards. Many of these jury awards are eligible for the following cash prizes. All official jury and audience winners receive custom award sculptures designed and produced by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo.

NOTE: Not all films selected to be screened at the festival will be in the juried competition films. If you have more specific questions for our programmers in regards to competition vs other categories, please email info@indiememphis.com.

Cash Awards include:

$1,000 - Best Narrative Feature
$1,000 - Duncan, Williams, Inc Scriptwriting Awards
$1,000 - Best Documentary Feature
$500 - Best Sounds Feature
$500 - Best Departures Feature
$500 - Best Narrative Short
$500 - Best Documentary Short
$500 - Best After Dark Short - Programmer's Choice
$1,000 - Best Hometowner Feature
$500 - Best Hometowner Narrative Short
$500 - Best Hometowner Documentary Short

Special Festival Awards:

Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award
Soul of Southern Film Award
Ron Tibbett Excellence in Filmmaking Award
The Indie Award

Final exhibition formats must be provided as one of the following: DCP, Blu Ray or a Digital File. The entrant guarantees that they have legal right to submit their film to the 2020 Indie Memphis Festival and have obtained all necessary rights and clearances to have it publicly screened during the festival dates. Submission of the film confirms that the Indie Memphis Film Festival has permission to exhibit the work at the 2020 festival, should it be accepted and that the entrant understands that no screening fees or other reimbursement is provided.

Submission of the film also confirms that Indie Memphis has permission to exhibit the work for an additional year for encore screenings if desired for the weekly Indie Memphis Nights film series. Every precaution will be exercised in handling preview and exhibition materials for submitted films, but the entrant agrees to hold the festival, its organizers, employees, volunteers, sponsors, and partnering organizations harmless for damage to or loss of materials submitted.

Overall Rating
  • Taylor Walker

    This was the first festival I have ever submitted a film to outside of college. I was curious as to how the festival would be considering COVID-19. However, they exceeded my expectations. They held a virtual, drive-in, and socially distanced outdoor pods film festival. While I couldn't physically attend, I thoroughly enjoyed the festival. The programmers were easily accessible, staying in contact with me throughout the experience. They also held many events as early as the month before the festival to get everyone hype and to also allow us filmmakers to connect with one another. Even in a pandemic, the programmers made Indie Memphis a success! I highly encourage everyone to submit their films here.

    November 2020
  • Thank You Indie Memphis Film Festival! Such an Awesome Film Festival. I had such an amazing experience. Indie Memphis went the extra mile by incorporating an Outdoor Festival. What Genius! Their my hometown heroes. I met and exchanged contact info with some amazing filmmakers. 1st Forgotten Champions was an Official Selection and my film was sponsored by the NBA Memphis Grizzlies. WOW! Please submit... Morreco Coleman

    November 2020
  • Two Girls Three Feet

    Absolutely wonderful festival experience - even in the middle of a pandemic! Excellent communication throughout with all of the awesome programmers. Great films and filmmaker events - we had so much fun! Can't wait to come back.

    November 2020
  • Beck Kitsis

    Indie Memphis is absolutely amazing -- I am so grateful for Brighid, Macon, and the whole team!!! Definitely submit to this festival, it's worth it.

    November 2020
  • Ashley George

    Indie Memphis brings me great joy. The entire team is incredible and it was an absolutely pleasure to be involved. They were super communicative and there was such a great energy. Beautiful films & hope to meet in person at the next one. Highly recommend this fest!

    November 2020