The Lancaster International Short Film Festival supports the independent digital film community by offering a competitive film festival in Lancaster, 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.


The Lancaster International Short Film Festival illuminates downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania one weekend a year. It happens in the City of Lancaster with a backdrop of charming colonial brick buildings bursting with art, surrounded by miles of farmland. It 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). The 2019 Festival convenes for the twelfth (12th) season from 10-12 October 2019 in beautiful downtown Lancaster.

Each year an increasing number of actors, filmmakers and producers attend and are on hand for Q & A. As we learn more about the Official Selections we will be developing Special Events for the film festival (e.g., panels, special presentations, after-parties with musical acts, etc.) around them.


This year, we seek short films from six (6) broadly-defined categories: Comedy, Drama, Animation, Horror, Music Video and Documentary. Submissions should not exceed 30 minutes.

Filmmakers of all levels are encouraged to submit to the film festival. Previous award-winners have included students, hobbyists, and professionals. Our Selection Committee is keen on 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 chose the Official Selections and the “Best Of” each category. Then, a second round will determine (from the six category winners) the recipient of the Grand Prize. There will be two other special awards: The Best Actor Award and The Home Grown Award —bestowed upon the best short film created by a Lancaster County Team or Theme. All of these will be announced and presented at the Awards Ceremony at the close of the film festival on 12 October 2019. Most years, the physical awards have been works of art.

The 2019 LISFF Official Selections will be screened from 10-12 October 2019 with special events leading up to it. Following the Final Due Date for Submissions, we will begin constructing the dynamics of the film festival and officially announce the venues. We expect to have this complete and online on/around 1 September 2019.
We will place blocks (various categories) of short films, into 90- to 100-minute blocks and spread them over eight to ten screenings.

Early Bird Passes will go on sale on/around 1 August 2019 and will be available until we announce the Official Selections and schedule. General Admission tickets will be available for individual screenings, as well as both Day passes and Full Festival passes.

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

From the above winners...
Grand Prize = $1000.

Best Actor = $100

Best Home Grown = $100
(Central Pennsylvania team or theme)

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 Lancaster County (and beyond.)

Basic Submission Info.
The submission/entry may not exceed 30 minutes. You may choose one of 6 categories: Comedy, Drama, Animation, Horror, Music Video & Documentary. The Selection Committee will consider your Entry from the category’s general perspective. Entries may be in more than one category; however, an entirely new submission is required for each 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. (Horror entries may approach NC-17.)

The Lancaster International Short Film Festival (LISFF) will include all Official Selections from each category. Awards will be announced at the closing of the Festival on 12 October 2019. Winners who are unable to attend will receive their award via UPS/USMail shortly thereafter.

Submissions designated as Official Selections for the 2019 Film Festival will receive up to 2 VIP Passes, if they are able to attend, and will have the opportunity to apply for small stipends (if available) to attend the film festival.

New This Year >>> All submissions (even if not chosen as an Official Selection) receive 1 VIP Pass.

By default, the awards will be given/delivered to the individual 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 2019 there are 6 categories: Drama, Comedy, Animation, Horror, Music Video and Documentary. 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 2019 Lancaster International Short Film Festival executive team may enter the competition.

* 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 2019 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 2019 Official Selections on/around 1 September 2019 . If your submission is selected for presentation as an Official Selection in the film festival, a hard 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
  • Jeremy Herbert

    All it takes is a look at the art and the promotional materials for LISFF to know you're in for something special. The programming is top-notch. The people are accommodating and always welcoming. The horror-thriller shorts, especially, are absolutely astounding, but you'll want to see it all. A gem of a festival in a gem of a town.

    November 2019
  • Michael Hoober and his LISFF team went above and beyond in accommodating my submission to festival. They put together one hell of a screening for my film, "Down the River", and lo-and-behold, we won our category! I highly recommend submitting to this well-run festival, big-hearted festival.

    October 2019
  • Kevin Quinn

    In it's 12th year, the Lancaster International Short Film Festival is the true heart of the film community in Central, PA. Michael Hoober and his dedicated team continue to program an outstanding array of local and international short cinema in a packed 3 day schedule loaded with great discussions, meet and greets, and networking. I've been coming to Lancaster for 3 years now, and I'll be there again next year. Kudos to a great festival whose heart is in the right place.

    October 2019
  • Olgierd Minkiewicz

    An amazing group of people that care about the filmmaker. High-quality work shown, some of it absolutely extraordinary. Michael is wonderful, the venue was great, Lancaster, PA is very charming. I look forward to coming back again next year!

    October 2019
  • Michael David Charles Hicks

    This is a great event that showcases some of the best shorts from around the world. Michael and the rest of the staff were very warm and welcoming and there was always a decent sized crowd, even for the late screenings. Honored to have my film be a part of it.

    October 2019