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
  • I was so happy to attend JDIFF 2021 with my nominated short, "The Plumber". Susan and her team are incredible people through and through, and the communication and hospitality was top notch from the start. I met great filmmakers at the fest and enjoyed being there in person - which was a challenge given covid times - but they put on a wonderful fest regardless and still managed to bring in an audience safely. Submitting to JDIFF is worth it; I can't wait to come back!

    April 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much Cate for the lovely review. It was such a pleasure to meet you here, in-person and I look forward to you coming back soon!

  • Bruna Cabral

    As my directorial debut, I poured my heart and soul into creating this film. Having our in-person premiere and be a nominee is a truly remarkable and unique experience. Getting our film in front of an audience for the first time was a thrilling experience, especially after all the positive feedback received. The atmosphere was very inviting, giving many opportunities to connect with other filmmakers and support each other work. I met so many talented people and saw incredible films, and I hope these relationships last long into our careers, and we can help lift each other as we keep doing what we love. It was empowering to be in this environment and see my film on the big screen. I was particularly impressed with Susan Gorrell, who went above and beyond to make an in-person and safe Festival happen. The entire team was so helpful, friendly, professional, and cared about the films they selected. It is with no surprise that this Festival will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you all for providing this unforgettable experience! See you soon Dubuque!

    April 2021
    Response from festival:

    It was so great to meet you at JDIFF Bruna! Thanks so much for the kind review! You hold a special place in our hearts as well!

  • JDIFF sets the bar so so high for any other festival. It was my first ever in-person fest and I have a feeling it ruined the rest of them for me :D

    From start to finish, everything was lovely. First of all, we're a 2020 selection that was invited back for 2021 due to COVID, even though we screened virtually at the festival last year. They curated a super-sized edition this year to include all of 2020 filmmakers, saying that our films deserved to be seen on screen. Who does that? JDIFFa and Susan Gorell, that's who. No other fest offered something like that.

    We've found a lovely community that is very passionate about the arts and about taking care of the filmmakers to the point of pampering (to our great amazement, about halfway through the festival a masseuse waltzed in and announced that she'll be there for the next 3 days for complimentary chair massages...)

    From food, to networking events, to panels, to answering every single one of my many many questions, be it via email or face to face, even during the fest, always with patience and care.

    When I asked to print flyers because it's my first festival and it didn't occur to me to make some, Susan was quick to print a 100 copies for me. When we asked to see the murals of downtown Dubuque, Neal the volunteer walked with us for 2 hours, pointing out places and history.

    When we asked to see Eagle Point Park Cheryl took us for what was basically a private tour and showed us some extra stuff, not to mention, when we needed something from a distant store, she just took us there.

    I reached out to ask if I could speak on a panel and that request was granted easily even though it came about relatively close to the festival.

    The festival also provided multiple opportunities for local press coverage during the fest.

    This is such a family oriented fest and by that I mean that Susan's (the director) family is all there on the ground volunteering, as tech peeps, as COVID coordinators. They do it all.

    If they can do something for you, they'll go above and beyond to do it. If there are issues and you mentioned it to them, they'll try their best to accommodate (we had issues with our sound during our first screening, I was invited to basically stand by the sound board for the second screening and instruct about the levels in real time.)

    We met so many incredible friends that will stay friends for a long time to come, and seen an inspiring, varied program. There was something for everyone. Music, street parties, award ceremony which was a lot of fun.

    I'll recommend this fest to any filmmaker who wants to feel like the festival they're attending values them and thinks of them as special and unique, and not just one among many.

    Every morning started at the filmmakers lounge with a free meal and the smiling faces of the staff and volunteers. That's how many days ended, too. I'd be delighted to come back in the future.

    Thanks team JDIFF! We had a blast and we adore you!

    April 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much Chen for the lovely review!! I'm so glad you truly enjoyed yourself and I look forward to seeing you again at the festival!

  • Oh, we can't go to this edition due to the pandemic, but want to say thanks for noticing our film THE LAND BENEATH OUR FEET, also appreciate the communication and kindness of Mrs. Susan Gorrell and all the JDIFF that stood in touch with us. We look forward to attending future editions. Long live to JDIFF!!

    May 2021
  • I cannot say enough positive things about working with the staff at JDIFF. They are so responsive, helpful, and personal. Susan and Amber were both such a pleasure to converse with. Although the festival was in person, they did a wonderful job of still including us filmmakers that could not attend. I cannot wait to attend JDFIFF in person in the future.

    May 2021