Known for it's quaint location, friendly staff/volunteers, inquisitive audience, consistent communication, multiple screening opportunities, workshops, panels and other amazing networking opportunities and parties; it's no wonder JDIFF was voted one of the coolest film festivals and one of the top 50 worth the submission fee by MovieMaker Magazine multiple times. JDIFF also ranks as one of the top 100 reviewed festivals by FilmFreeway. JDIFF is ALL about the independent filmmaker!

Dubuque, Iowa, located right alongside the Mississippi River, is a perfect place to host the festival. As quoted in Filmmaker Magazine "The festival is smartly situated downtown, with an assortment of handsome venues all within walking distance" from the Festival Headquarters, located in the grand HOTEL JULIEN, the same hotel where Al Capone used to hide out from the Chicago Feds.

Majority of events and venues are located on Main Street downtown Dubuque, allowing Filmmakers, Attendees and Special Guests to attend numerous screenings and events all within walking distance. We offer opportunities for radio, print and social media promotion, full shuttle service, home stay program and much more. We take care of our filmmakers and guests.

Our final nominees are judged by our Jury members of Film professionals, such as Directors, Producers, Critics, Director of Photography, etc and choose the final winner of each category.

JDIFF acknowledge emerging filmmakers from around the world and is committed to bringing diverse, world class entertainment to the heart of the midwest

$ 4,000 Best Documentary
$ 4,000 Best Narrative Feature
$ 1,000 Best Short (3 - 20 min length)
$ 1,000 Best Short (21 - 49 min length)


We award over $25,000 in cash and benefits.

Additional categories to be awarded (such as Best use of music, Audience Choice, etc) have some cash award but no travel benefits.

1) All decisions of programmers and jurors are final. All entries will be viewed and given equal consideration.
3) All submitted materials must include the FilmFreeway tracking number and additional information as listed in the General Rules.
4). Press Kit materials as listed above will be sent only upon notification of Officially Selected. The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival assumes NO RESPONSIBILITY of marketing and promotion if proper press kit materials are not sent after notification as deemed in the General Rules. It is the sole responsibility of the Filmmaker to send all materials listed.
5) Notification date is on or around March 08, 2021.
6). If selected as an Official Selection, projects are to be uploaded to the designated JDIFF FTP site and /or sent via Dropbox. One (1) screening copy must be sent on a DVD/Bluray and/or thumb-drive (thumb-drive preferred).
7) JDIFF reserves the right to select films from the entire pool of submissions.
8) There are no restrictions on premiere or distribution status, but films may not have been completed prior to January 1, 2017.
10) JDIFF does consider works in progress.
11) All entered films grant the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival a non exclusive limited use agreement to use selected portions of films chosen for competition, and or use film promotional materials to promote the festival including the rights to utilize any excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at JDIFF for promotional purposes and/or on JDIFF's website. Filmmakers fully retain all rights, title and interest in their films and all intellectual Property.
12) JDIFF does not accept responsibility for damage or loss of materials. Please do not send us any original copies, master copies, the only copy you have, etc.
13). By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions, you certify that you hold all necessary rights for the submission of this film and have read the regulations.
14). Dates and guidelines subject to change without prior notice.
15). JDIFF pays for the top 3 nominees in each category to attend the festival. Nominee flights are booked 3 - 4 weeks in advance of festival. You will be given a deadline to send requested information to JDIFF for booking. If requested information is not received by cut-off, you will need to book your own flight and JDIFF will reimburse you up to $400.00. If you choose to book your own flight, JDIFF will reimburse you up to $400.00 for domestic, $500.00 for International.
16). It is preferred that nominees are in attendance. If you are unable to attend, you forfeit your flight reimbursement/booked trip.
17). JDIFF does NOT pay screening fees for any film that is submitted to the festival for review.

Thank you and happy submitting!

Overall Rating
  • Alex Montilla

    So bummed Covid made us go virtual. Everyone was very nice and helpful. I will be back!

    September 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Alex! I was bummed too, but hopefully we can see you in 2021 when we are showing all films from 2020 and new films from 2021!

  • Ramsey Denison

    You will hear nothing but great things about this festival because the woman in charge of it is an exceptionally positive and kind person. Festival Director Susan Gorrell literally wrote a personal email to every single person who entered the 2020 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival about their film. Not just to the people whose films were accepted like mine. She wrote one to everyone! Given that festivals like this sometimes get over 1000 submissions, this is unbelievably generous and tells you a lot about how much this festival and its director love filmmakers! Unfortunately the COVID-19 crisis forced the festival to move online this year so I won't be able to go to Dubuque in June, but I hope to make it out there eventually as I've heard nothing but good things about JDIFF!

    May 2020
    Response from festival:

    What a lovely review Ramsey! Thank you so much. I truly respect and admire all independent filmmakers as it's not an easy job (nor a cheap one). I'm honored when filmmakers choose to submit to JDIFF with the thousand of choices they have. Thank you for being such a supportive filmmaker! Hopefully we will meet in 2021 at the festival in April!

  • It was an honor to have my Bullied selected to screen at JBIFF. The communication was great from day-one. I look forward to attending in the future!

    May 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Thomas. It was an honor to screen your film at JDIFF. Hope to see you at JDIFF soon!

  • a really nice festival with very sensitive and intelligent people. Susan Gorrel the director is truly a very good person and a great cinematographic culture. happy to be part of this beautiful festival

    May 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much Domenico! I truly appreciate your kind words. I hope you make it to JDIFF 2021! It's an honor to screen your amazing feature in our festival.

  • Timothy Jacobson

    Our creative team is thrilled to have had the opportunity to participate in the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival with the documentaries "Decoding the Driftless" and "Mysteries of the Driftless" (in different years) and we are so very appreciative of the recognition our films received there! The event was wonderful. It’s a classy organization with great hospitality. JDIFF does it as well or better than any fest I've participated in around the world. A fest not to be missed!

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Timothy! It was an honor screening both your films at JDIFF!!