Since Sydney Pollack helped found it 15 years ago, the Mendocino Film Festival has established a reputation as a showcase of artistic talent and independent film – all set against the backdrop of Mendocino’s stunning natural beauty and friendly hospitality in Northern California.

From the first filmmakers to draw inspiration from Mendocino’s breathtaking scenery a century ago to the trailblazers who filmed iconic pictures like Same Time, Next Year, Summer of ’42, and The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!, Mendocino has a rich heritage of artistic excellence. Every year, the Festival invites independent filmmakers to join this talented community and become a part of that cinematic tradition.

*COVID-19 UPDATE: The 15th Annual Mendocino Film Festival has been scheduled for June 2-5, 2022. The festival board and team are dedicated to presenting a full festival weekend on the beautiful Mendocino Coast, filled with in-person events, filmmaker panels, Q&A’s, and screenings of engaging, quality independent films from around the world.

Audience Choice Award for Best Feature-Length Film (narrative or documentary).
Best Documentary Feature.
Best Narrative Feature.
Best Short Film.
Special Jury Awards.

1. We are interested in films in these categories:

Feature-length (50 minutes and up):
Documentary Films
Films on the Arts - Films on the lives, work, and creative process of artist in the visual, literary, applied, and performing arts.
Films for Our Future - Environmental and social justice films that offer models, solutions and inspiration for our future.
Films on music
Narrative Films - Character-driven stories with high production values that are devoid of explicit sexual situations and gratuitous violence.

Short Films (15 minutes or under) of all genres, including narrative, documentary, and animation. We especially like shorts with an upbeat, hopeful, or humorous message.

For an example of previous years’ programs, please visit

2. Submissions in languages other than English must be subtitled. Please note if your film has subtitles.

3. Multiple entries are allowed from a filmmaker and each entry may be entered in multiple categories.

4. Online screeners are preferred.
If you choose not to upload your project to FilmFreeway’s site, please provide an online link to your submission and be sure to include the password in an email correspondence sent directly to

If you choose to send a DVD screener as well, please format it in NTSC, label the cover with the FilmFreeway Tracking ID, film title, category, total run time, and filmmaker name and telephone number, and forward it to the Mendocino Film Festival mailing address:
Mendocino Film Festival
PO Box 1843
Mendocino, CA 95460.

For UPS, FedEx, and other delivery services, please send screener to:
Mendocino Film Festival
Attn: Programming
45062 Ukiah St.
Mendocino, CA 95460

5. The Mendocino Film Festival does not download submissions or accept Dropbox submissions. Please only send links to your media hosted on 3rd party servers such as Vimeo or YouTube.

6. Written comments describing entries are beneficial.

7. DVD Entries will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed mailer is provided.

8. EXCLUSIONS - Industrial and instructional films are not eligible for any of the sections of the Festival. The same applies to racist, obscene, excessively violent and propagandistic films.

9. FOR EXHIBITION - We require a copy of your master QuickTime file (Apple H.264 or ProRes 422 are the preferred codecs) as it was finished in its original frame-size and frame-rate.
Pre-rolls, slates, or color-bars are NOT necessary and should not be included.
You can send us an external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card, or upload via cloud storage/transfer services such as Dropbox, HighTail, Box, GoogleDrive, etc.
We also require two backup copies of your movie on a Blu-Ray or DVD (Blu-Ray is the preferred medium).

10. Entrants will be notified of their acceptance or rejection to the festival by April 15, 2020.

11. Audience Choice Award will be given to the favorite feature-length film (documentary or narrative).

12. Directors of selected films are encouraged to attend the festival. Details to be provided in festival acceptance letter.

Rules & Terms
By submitting your film for consideration to the Mendocino Film Festival, you are telling us that you have full authority to do so, that the film is cleared for potential festival exhibition, and that you accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. Submitting your film to us constitutes permission to exhibit your work at the Mendocino Film Festival. The Mendocino Film Festival is also hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. You shall also indemnify and hold harmless the Mendocino Film Festival from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

Overall Rating
  • Kellen Lim

    As a local audience member, former volunteer, and now a budding filmmaker, I must say that this summer event is something I always look forward to the most. MFF over the years have put together a really nice selection of films that are often entertaining, funny, insightful, urgent, and fulfilling. It offers a few social events happening where you can meet some really great people.

    I recommend this festival highly! Many thanks to the hardworking staff, volunteers, and crew for this year’s season!

    June 2019
  • One of my favorite festivals. Great hosts, wonderful hospitality and a truly 'to die-for' location. We were so impressed with the communication (before, during and after the event) as well as the interesting and diverse film selections. This event has a huge local following and community support which makes it so much more interesting and fun.

    June 2018
  • shane anderson

    A great festival with beautiful films, excellent events and great people in one of the best locations in the world.

    June 2018