Open to all Michigan's K-12 filmmakers, the Michigan Student Film Festival is unique in the nation for providing a public venue for the work of students as well as giving recognition and significant awards to young media artists. DAFT is proud to present The Michigan Student Film Festival, now in its 53rd year.

DAFT recognizes that the restrictions of COVID has placed districts and classrooms in difficult circumstances. We encourage all students to submit entries with the understanding DAFT judges will be supportive given the circumstances.

All entries will receive judges' feedback. Entries will be placed in four categories (Merit, Honor, Excellence & Best-in-Show) with a special screening of Best of Show selections at streaming on DAFT's website and via Facebook Live. Due to COVID safety protocol we have once again had to cancel the on-site screening at the Detroit Institute of Art's historic Detroit Film Theatre. A free program at the screening (later available online as a pdf) will also include all entries and their placements.

Recognized by the American Film Institute as the longest-running K-12 student film festival in the nation, the Michigan Student Film Festival was founded by the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts, Film and Television) as a showcase for Michigan students to demonstrate their skills and to network with one another and industry professionals.

$250 Gift Cards for category winners (see below)
$500 cash prizes for best narrative film and documentary
K-8 & 9-12 Ron Castorri Audience Choice Awards - $250 Gift Card

Animation - $250 Gift Card first prize
Documentary - $500 cash prize
Music Video/Montage - $250 Gift Card first prize
Narrative Film - $500 cash prize
News/Sports Magazine Program - $250 Gift Card first prize
Experimental- $250 Gift Card first prize
Public Service Announcement - $250 Gift Card first prize

Special awards may be given due to COVID conditions--at the discretion of the judging panel.

The Festival is open to any Michigan student or group of K-12 students who have participated in producing a film or video (in school, at home, with a community group). Video projects completed while students were enrolled K-12 may be submitted (e.g. high school graduates from last June who completed a video after the previous year's festival deadline).

Mature subject matter, inappropriate language and excessive violent content may disqualify your entry from competition based solely upon DAFT's discretion.

Judges in Round 1 will review a maximum of 5 minutes of an entry. Submitters of longer entries may stipulate a beginning time for judges to begin viewing their entry. If an entry is selected Best of Show up to 5 minutes of the film will be shown during the streaming festival May 25 and 26, 2021. The judging committee may decide to show a slightly longer excerpt if scheduling permits.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: To be considered for Best of Show award-level, entries that have material whose rights are not owned by the producers should include clear permission from the owners of the music, images, video. DAFT offers many links to royalty-free music under the "Resources" tab at While educational-use of material can provide useful training for students, DAFT fully supports the ethical use of all creative material and encourages its students and teachers to adhere to these principles. Any questions, please contact us at

STUDENT-PRODUCED: While DAFT recognizes the important role of teachers/mentors in the production of entries--especially at the K-8 level, DAFT reserves the right to not award a Best of Show selection if it is determined that the project was not primarily student produced. The selection committee may reach out to the producers for more information, however the responsibility of full disclosure of adult involvement lies with the submitter (teacher or student).

Overall Rating
  • Scott A. Galeski

    It is evident that every project and every student matter. The DAFT Staff goes above and beyond to deliver over 50 years of student cinematic greatness.

    May 2020
  • Adam Burns

    Wonderful festival year after year and made very special this year for students despite not being able to hold it in person!

    May 2020
  • malo riou

    Very well organized. They managed very well the event, even though the Covid-19 had impacted very badly most film festivals across the country.

    May 2020