Come be part of the unforgettable Key West experience, where passion meets paradise!

As filmmakers, film educators, and film lovers ourselves, we at the KWFF know that a truly great festival achieves two things: It provides real value to filmmakers whose works we show as well as entertainment and cultural enrichment to audience members and the community.

Having your film selected by our programmers, and attending the festival as a filmmaker or film fan—which always takes place the (long) weekend before Thanksgiving—is valuable for many reasons:

1 - ACCESS TO TOP FILM CRITICS: We’ve cultivated strong relationships with writers for the LA TIMES, ROLLING STONE, NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, WALL STREET JOURNAL, FILMMAKER MAGAZINE, BUZZFEED, TIME OUT NY, INDIEWIRE and others. We kick off each festival with an informative and entertaining "critics chat,” and the long weekend provides ample opportunity to meet these industry influencers.

2 - ARTIST TALKS: Nurturing emerging talent goes hand-in-hand with celebrating those at the pinnacle of their careers, and are interrelated strands of our mission. In depth interviews and Q&As with seasoned names in the industry about their careers, as well as many informal opportunities to chat, make our festival unique.

In this laid-back, tropical setting of Old Town Key West with its historic theaters within walking distance of each other, the bars of Duval Street and the famous nightly sunset celebration at Mallory Square, celebrity guests have included: Harmony Korine, Mariel Hemingway, Tom Berenger, Burt Reynolds, Marisa Tomei, Billy Corben, Ondi Timoner, Alan Cumming, Corey Glover, John Waters, Sebastian Junger, Celia Weston, Mark Bridges, Anson Mount, Joely Richardson, Paul Haggis, Lois Smith, and many more.

3 - AWARDS COMPETITION & CEREMONY: Films selected to be shown are automatically in competition in all categories for which they qualify. Winners are announced at our closing night ceremony and party. And student filmmakers are in the running for scholarship awards of $2,500 in four special categories, demonstrating our festival’s commitment to foster the next generation of talent in Florida, around the country, and the world.

4 - SEE GREAT FILMS IN A GREAT ENVIRONMENT: Our locale of the beautifully-preserved and vibrant Old Town Key West, with its boutique cinemas clustered close together, along with our ideal tropical climate mean that you can big-screen binge-watch Oscar contending features and great shorts programs while in between take a dip in the ocean or hotel pool and then grab a local brew or mojito at Sloppy Joe’s or any number of lively bars on historic Duval Street.

5 - WHICH LEADS TO THE PARTIES: Key Westers love a party—and our festival is local. Each night we organize special events, after-parties, and spontaneous after-after hangouts. The grand historic homes and lush gardens of famous-Conchs-past like the Hemingways, James Audubon, and President Truman’s Little White House provide epic backdrops for these festivities, as do the patio bars and restaurants of Old Town.

6 - ENJOY A CARIBBEAN HOLIDAY: Bring your crew—be they film crew, boat crew, friends, or family. Or come solo and find a new crew here, while soaking up the warm sunshine and local vibe of our island home in its most beautiful season. Sail, dive, jet ski, kayak, enjoy live music on Duval Street, visit our historic museums and art galleries... It’s all here, walk- & bike-able and definitely flip flop-friendly. For any age and lifestyle, Key West and our festival are a warm and welcoming respite.

7 - NO-STRESS NETWORKING: All of the above give filmmakers and VIP pass-holders lots of opportunity to meet, mingle, talk film, pitch ideas, make deals, make love, or all of the above!

8 - FILM SCREENINGS AND SPECIAL EVENTS: Our ethos is inclusive, fun, & community-building: All selected films get two FILMMAKER badges granting access to all parties and special events, and film screenings (per availability). We are all makers or patrons of the art of cinema, and building and celebrating community is key in Key West.

Join our truly unique community, which celebrates our pride of place in South Florida, the Keys, and the Caribbean islands, while welcoming the best from around the country and world.

Florida Narrative Short Award
Florida Documentary Short Award
World Narrative Short Award
World Documentary Short Award

Florida Student Narrative Short Award ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Florida Student Doc Short Award ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
World Student Narrative Short Award ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Best World Student Documentary Award ($2500 Jury Prize Award)

Florida Feature Film Award
English-language Feature Film Award
Foreign-language Feature Film Award
Documentary Feature Award

LGBTQ Feature Film Award
Film Critics' Choice Award
Golden Key for Excellence in Costume Design
Golden Key Award for Excellence in Filmmaking

Florida Short Screenplay Award
Florida Feature Screenplay Award

-Short films/screenplays must be under 30 minutes (pages) in duration.

-Feature films/screenplays must be 60-125 minutes (pages) in duration.

-Florida films must be written/directed/produced by filmmaker/s who currently reside in Florida or were shot at least 50% (locations or labor) in the state.

-Exhibition format for all films must be Blu-Ray, QuickTime or H.264.

-World premiere must have occurred no earlier than January 1, 2017.

See specific categories for further details.

Overall Rating
  • Daniel Bethencourt

    Never miss again, World Class Fest

    January 2019
  • Quincy, Ruth, and staff go above and beyond to put on the best festival in Florida (in my humble opinion). Great speakers and quality films. Not only are the selections top notch but the Southern most tip vibes of this border town-like island make for a unique experience, cinematic in itself. Undoubtedly worth the submission! Go there, show there, and keep Key West weird.

    December 2018
  • Tony Armer

    Great festival! Fun vibe, well organized, helpful, friendly and engaging staff, and of course a great location for it as well. Will definitely be coming back.

    November 2018
  • Madeline Mack

    I had a lot of fun, the programming was excellent. The award winners weren't published though, if I hadn't emailed I wouldn't have known I won! haha. I'll be submitting again next year and definitely attending again if I get selected to screen.

    November 2018
  • This is one of the best festivals I have ever been to!!
    Our short film was on competition and it couldn't go better. Beautiful place, great interesting and welcoming people. Amazing communications and a splendorous A rate program of shorts and features. We hope we can be there again and again!!

    November 2018