We are looking for creative, innovative, thought-provoking and entertaining independent films. We are especially interested in films made in Iowa and the Midwest. The festival has showcased short films, feature-length dramatic films, documentaries as well as student films.

** $1500 prize pool **
The following awards are given a trophy and cash prize which is awarded to the director(s) of the film submitted.

Best Feature Film
Best Short Film
Best Student Film
Best Documentary
Best Animation Film
Best Local Film
Best Iowa Made Film
Best Music Video *NEW*

Additional Critic’s Choice Awards are awarded but contain no cash prize.
The applicant/filmmaker does not need to be present to win but highly encouraged. If winner is not present, the trophy/cash prize will be mailed to the applicant’s address provided through Filmfreeway.

*Category awards will be awarded assuming an acceptable number of entries per category. Films are eligible to win multiple categories if the film has been submitted to and paid for multiple categories. IIFF reserves the right to not award a category winner nor category nominees.

IIFF Rules & Terms:
Please review the following carefully. By submitting (uploading & purchasing a submission to festival), you indicate that you have read, understood, and have complied with all eligibility requirements of the Iowa Independent Film Festival (IIFF) and the categories of which you are submitting to via FilmFreeway.

No refunds will be given for any submission that asks to withdraw, regardless of reason. By submitting your film for consideration for the 16th annual Iowa Independent Film Festival, you agree for IIFF to screen your film if it is an official selection. By withdrawing from the festival, a refund will not be processed nor will your film be selected.

Submission Format:
Films must be submitted through Filmfreeway or through an online screener link with a valid password (YouTube, Vimeo, etc). Films without a valid password will be deemed invalid and disqualified with no entry fee refund. Hard copies will not be accepted, returned, or seen as an official submission to the Iowa Independent Film Festival.

All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2021. There are no premiere restrictions or policy for the Iowa Independent Film Festival.

By submitting to IIFF, you acknowledge that your film submitted has obtained any and all necessary permissions and rights exhibited in the work.

Screenings are scheduled during the festival at the discretion of IIFF. While every effort will be made to adhere to the published schedule, IIFF reserves the right to make changes at any time for any reason.

More than one entry may be submitted and a single entry can be submitted into multiple categories. Each category and submission must be accompanied by its own entry fee.

Films produced in other language other than English must have legible English subtitles.

IIFF is hereby granted the right to utilize image(s) and/or biographical information of the filmmakers and/or the films submitted and accepted for promotional purposes.

IIFF will not review multiple versions of the submitted film. IIFF can not guarantee the newest version of the film will be reviewed and may only view and rate the initial film that was first received.

Fee waivers will be provided to filmmakers on a case by case basis. Please contact the Iowa Independent Film Festival to inquire about fee/submission waivers at iowaindieff@gmail.com. If film is granted a waiver of any kind, the film is not eligible for any monetary awards.

Please provide link to full length film for consideration. If password protected, please provide password.

IIFF does not consider films that require a screening and/or rental fee.

All decisions regarding film submission acceptances and award winners are considered final.

If your film is selected, we will contact you through the email provided in your Filmfreeway submission in order to request and download a copy of your submitted and accepted film. Failure to grant request may result in disqualification.

Please see additional terms and rules under "Awards and Prizes" and under individual category listings.

Selection Notification and Additional Information:
Programming decisions are final and made by the film festival board of directors. If accepted, we will notify you through email. As part of our festival, the Iowa Independent Film Festival is proud is to partner with local Airbnb/VRBO’s in order to house visiting filmmakers. Additional information for housing options will be sent to selected filmmakers and priority will be made to those traveling from beyond a 2 hour radius of Mason City & Clear Lake, Iowa.

Overall Rating
  • James Lantz

    So honored to have our short film be a part of this great festival and to receive a 'Critics' Choice Award.'

    April 2023
  • Keaton Morris-Stan

    I didn't have the chance to attend, unfortunately, but the festival was so kind to pass along my festival passes to my relatives so they could be there in my stead. They told me it was a truly lovely event. Thank you Iowa Independent!

    September 2022
  • Nathan Emerson

    Honored winning two awards for That Thing That Sound: steel guitar documentary. We saw several amazing films from all over the world. The hospitality was superb and everyone involved truly cared about all the selections.

    September 2022
  • Jennifer Scott

    What a wonderful experience to be able to attend and see my feature Eyes Upon Waking shown on the big screen at this wonderful festival. All the festival directors made us feel welcome from the start and were very knowledgable. We felt like royalty and were well taken care of. I can not say enough great things about this festival, only that this is a must submit and attend. They really did find the best of the best to be shown in their festival and I encourage all filmmakers to submit and attend.

    September 2022
  • David Busch

    This was my second time having a film in the Iowa Independent Film Festival, and like last time, it was a delight! The hosts are organized, friendly, and make everyone feel welcome. The selection of films was impressive too. A+!

    September 2022