The Lancaster International Short Film Festival illuminates Lancaster County, Pennsylvania as a destination for filmmakers and film enthusiasts every year. Pennsylvania Dutch Country is rich with history and culture, which inspires artists, writers and dreamers. The festival is the longest, continuously running film festival in Central Pennsylvania and only a short distance from NYC, Philadelphia, and the Baltimore-Washington area.

In the past, the film festival was presented at Penn Cinema (2008: Lititz, PA), the Stahr Performing Arts Center (2009, 2010, 2011: Lancaster, PA), Tellus360 (2011: Lancaster, PA), The Ware Center | Milllersville University Downtown Campus (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Franklin & Marshall College's The Green Room Theater (2014), Zoetropolis Film & Art (2014, 2015), the Candy Factory (2017 & 2018) and the Lancaster Elks Lodge #134 (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019). Due to the COVID pandemic, the 2020 Festival convened online and the 2021 event was cancelled.

Each year an increasing number of actors, filmmakers and producers attend and are on hand for Q & A. And who can blame them? With special events, after parties, table space to sell DVD's and merch, and lots of food (& drinks!) provided to our attending filmmakers, this is a festival that KNOWS how to take care of our guests.

This year, we seek short films from seven (8) broadly and more narrowly defined categories: Comedy, Drama, Animation, Female Director, BIPOC Experience, LGBTQ+, Social Justice, and For The Culture. Submissions should not exceed 40 minutes. See category description for more information.

Filmmakers of all levels are encouraged to submit to the film festival. Previous award-winners have included students, hobbyists, and professionals. Our Selection Committee doesn't shy away from promoting lower-budget shorts for accolades; an engaging story and clever editing can best a high budget submission.

All submissions will be reviewed by the Selection Committee. This panel will choose the Official Selections and the “Best Of” each category. Then, a second round will determine (from the eight category winners) the recipient of the Grand Prize. There will be three other special awards: The Best Actor Award, The Home Grown Award and The Best International Award. All of these will be announced and presented at the Awards Ceremony at the close of the film festival.

Th LISFF Official Selections will be screened with special events leading up to the festival. We will place various categories of short films into 90 to 120- minute blocks and spread them over eight to ten screenings over 3 days. Saturday night culminates with our awards show, with full screenings of the award-winning film in each category. Throughout the festival we expect to have space set aside for socialization and relaxation, a red carpet for photos, and a bar with free food and drinks (adult and all-ages) for all attending filmmakers with a film in the festival.

Early Bird Passes will go on sale about two months before the festival and will be available until we announce the Official Selections and schedule, about a month before the festival. General Admission tickets will be available for individual screenings, as well as both Day passes and Full Festival passes.

The Lancaster International Short Film Festival supports the independent digital film community by offering a competitive film festival in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, an annual destination for short film aficionados to experience the best of the contemporary art form.

We are fans of film. We love the stories, we love the people, we love the festival. We aim to bring eclectic voices of the world to our corner of the planet in an intimate venue to share with you.

Best Comedy = $100
Best Drama = $100
Best Animation = $100
Best Horror = $100
Best Documentary = $100
Best Music Video = $100

From the above winners...
Grand Prize = $1000.
Best Actor = $100
Best Home Grown = $100 (Central Pennsylvania team or theme)

Please note: An entry can win more than one award. In that case, they will receive all of the physical awards but only one case prize (the highest.)

The Lancaster International Short Film Festival presents an annual Open-Call Short Film Competition with Cash Prizes. The outcome of the competition will be determined by a Selection Committee composed of faculty, filmmakers, actors, media professionals and other community representatives from Central Pennsylvania (and beyond.)

Prizes are awarded to films based on the personal opinions of the Selection Committee, and not subject to any guarantees. The Home Grown Award is selected by the Selection Committee to a film which represents Central Pennsylvania in a spectacular or unique way, demonstrates the heart of the geographic area, or shows other qualities that the Committee feels fit the category. It is not necessarily awarded to the "best" or "highest quality" local/regional film. To be considered for the Home Grown Award, a filmmaker must "opt-in" to this category. This affirmation will be requested after the Official Selections are announced.

Basic Submission Info.
The submission/entry may not exceed 40 minutes. You may choose one of 8 categories. The Selection Committee will consider your Entry from the category’s general perspective. Entries may be submitted in more than one category; however, an entirely new submission is required for each category. Upon notification and discussion with the filmmaker, the festival committee reserves the right to reassign a submission to a different category.

Submissions should not exceed a traditional R-rating. The film festival will be presented in clusters of age-appropriate ratings. Thus, the higher the rating (G, PG, R – applied by LISFF) the more restricted the audience may be. The LISFF rating system bears a common sense resemblance to the MPAA system.

The Lancaster International Short Film Festival (LISFF) will include all Official Selections from each category. The Official Selections are those selected from the pool of submissions to be screened during the film festival. Awards will be announced at the closing of the Festival on 4 December 2021. Winners who are unable to attend will receive their award via UPS/US Mail shortly thereafter.

Submissions designated as Official Selections for the 2021 Film Festival will receive up to 2 VIP Passes, if they are able to attend.

By default, the awards will be presented/delivered to the individual or team who completed the submission (or Best Actor). In most cases this is the director, writer, and/or producer; however, this should all be clear between all involved; the submitter, the director/producer(s), and Best Actor.

Review of Important Stuff and More Info.
* Complete all sections of the Entry Forms and read/endorse the Release/Agreement. (If you are under 18, you will need your parents to read/endorse as well.)

* For LISFF 2021 there are 8 categories. While a single film could be entered in more than one category, a separate entry form and fee is required for each submission. Also, a film can only win in one category—the one in which it places the highest.

* No member of the Selection Committee or anyone directly affiliated with the 2021 Lancaster International Short Film Festival executive or selection committee may enter the competition. Films with close ties to committee members may be screened as Special Selections but will not compete for any prizes. Said films will be evaluated on a case by case basis, please contact the festival directly to be considered.

* Submitted materials will not be returned unless otherwise arranged.

* Foreign language submissions MUST have English subtitles.

* Entries may be excerpted or played in full for TV, website, and/or other promotional purposes as connected to the Lancaster International Short Film Festival for 2020 and the future. Please notify (in writing) any press restrictions within your entry package.

* LISFF accepts no responsibility for loss or damage of entries during shipment via snail mail. Please inquire if you have not received a confirmation of receipt within seven (7) days of sending the film.

* LISFF accepts no responsibility for the use of copyrighted or appropriated image/sound in submitted works. The filmmaker(s) accept(s) full responsibility in securing permission and/or properly crediting copyrighted images and sound. If a submission does not demonstrate proper permissions, LISFF will contact the filmmaker and it will need to be fixed promptly or the entry may be disqualified (without refund).

* A category must have more than two entries to win the Best of Category designation. If, following the close of the submission process, there are two or fewer entries in any category, LISFF will contact the filmmakers/directors and discuss options with the possibility of a refund. (This has never happened, thus far, but has been in these rules since the beginning.)

* Filmmakers/directors/entrants must use FilmFreeway's Secure Online Screener. Please make sure you add/upload a few eye-catching stills in your Submission. If this is an impossible inconvenience, please contact us.

>>>VERY IMPORTANT: We will announce the 2021 Official Selections on/around 10 October 2021. If your submission is selected for presentation as an Official Selection in the film festival, a High Definition copy in an acceptable file format will need to be delivered online or via the post within 14 days. (One popular method includes transfer via Vimeo download.) This is crucial. If we do not have a quality copy before the day we send the program guide to the printers, your film may not be presented in the film festival (unless we are reasonably assured by you that it will arrive in time).

* The availability of Entry Fee Waivers will be announced following the Regular Deadline. Terms of the Waivers will be identified if/when they are granted. Apply for an Entry Fee Waiver by contacting the email address provided.

* Entering a film/video indicates acceptance of The Lancaster International Short Film Festival submission General Rules & Terms And Conditions.

Overall Rating
  • 2020 has been anything but normal. We were excited to have Hunger screen for this fest since we live in Lancaster,PA and it would've been the first live screening we would be able to attend. While we were disappointed with the fest having to understandably change to an online event we certainly were NOT disappointed with the event. The communication was great! The screening was so much fun being able to interact and read peoples comments and reactions in real time. The Actors & Director participated in the Q&A and had a blast. Kudos to LISFF for pulling off this massive event change and making it seem flawless!

    August 2020
  • Great passionate group of people running this festival. That's exactly who you would want to. It was an honor to have our film a part of this years festival.

    Film: The Clam Kid - Short Film

    August 2020
  • Great festival with great people! And we are so thrilled that our film, Moment, was the Science Fiction Winner! Thank you!

    August 2020
  • Truly an amazing festival! While I was bummed that the live event was canceled due to covid the LISFF crew went above and beyond to make the festival experience a great one. They always communicated what was going on and what they were planning to do! When all was said and done they delivered a great virtual film festival! Thanks again for all the hard work! I will definitely be submitting to this film festival in the future!

    August 2020
  • Caeser Pink

    Honored to be a part of the festival.

    August 2020