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 magic of Mallory Square on the Florida Bay, 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: Conchs (as the locals call themselves) are the partying kind—and our festival is local. Every night we host special events, after-parties, and 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 - SUBMISSION FEE & SELECTION GETS YOU VIP TREATMENT - Our ethos is egalitarian and inclusive: If we select your work--feature or short, student or Oscar contender--you will get two all-access badges to all events and screenings. 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.
Best Florida Short (or Pilot) - Narrative or Doc (Audience Award)
Best World Narrative Short (Audience Award)
Best World Documentary Short (Audience Award)
Best Florida Student Narrative short (or pilot) ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Best Florida Student Doc Short ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Best World Student Narrative Short (or pilot) ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Best World Student Documentary Short ($2500 Jury Prize Award)
Florida Feature film - narrative or doc
Narrative English language Feature Film (Audience Award)
Narrative Foreign-language Feature Film (Audience Award)
Feature-length Documentary (any language) (Audience Award)
Best LGBTQ feature film
Film Critics' Choice Award
Golden Key Award for Excellence in Costume Design
Golden Key Award for Excellence in Cinematic Arts
Best Florida Short
Best Florida Feature
Best Florida Pilot Episode
-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.