The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is all about showcasing the outstanding work of first and second time filmmakers. It's our sole focus and it's what we do exceptionally well. The event takes place in scenic Middlebury, Vermont in late August each year. Our 9th Annual festival will roll out August 23-27, 2023. And our submission window for MNFF9 opens on January 3, 2023.

Over its first eight years, MNFF has been incredibly fortunate to attract a diverse array of passionate new filmmakers from around the world working across all genres who are creating brilliant work. We seek out compelling and memorable stories about underrepresented communities. We encourage risk taking and boundary breaking in the films that we select. We have created innovative partnerships with prestigious organizations like the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Jacob Burns Film Center and the Bali International Film Festival that give our filmmakers truly distinctive opportunities to advance their craft and careers. And, at the heart of it all, MNFF offers a festival environment that is genuinely and deeply supportive of the emerging new voices in independent filmmaking. As one of our fabulous alumni noted in their FilmFreeway review, "MNFF is THE festival to watch. Extremely welcoming, well run, well organized, and a true destination festival, MNFF offers a unique and much needed opportunity for first and second time filmmakers to interact and learn from seasoned industry professionals. Like an early Sundance, MNFF is sensitively curated, highly selective and impeccably organized. Plus it’s set in stunningly beautiful Vermont countryside in summer, when the entire town of Middlebury turns its focus to supporting the festival. The films I saw were consistently excellent: sophisticated, imaginative, surprising. This festival is a powerhouse, devoted to the new filmmaker." Check out our many other positive reviews on FilmFreeway and you'll know why the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is a Top 100 Best Reviewed Festival for seven years running and an essential and enjoyable destination on the festival circuit.

After successfully concluding our 8th Annual Fest this past August in beautiful Middlebury, with 55 filmmakers in attendance from all over the world and 2800 people watching our 138 films over five days, we are now planning MNFF9 with an eye to expanding on the several innovations that we have implemented. And we are very optimistic that by August of 2023, there will be an even greater degree of interest in participating in and experiencing what we have to offer.

We will again run five full days at MNFF9, booking five great venues and six screens to showcase our 2023 selections: the historic Town Hall Theater, the much loved Marquis Theater [two screens], the beautiful and newly renovated Dana Auditorium and the intimate Twilight Hall, the latter two both at Middlebury College, and our lovely outdoor venue under the tent at Swift House Inn. We anticipate having as many as 90 slots available for accepted entries and selections will be made by a panel of judges led by the Festival’s Artistic Director, Jay Craven, noted Vermont filmmaker, impresario and educator.

We enthusiastically encourage our selected filmmakers to come to the Festival, engage in Q&A sessions with audiences following their screenings, network with peers in the peaceful surroundings and immerse themselves in the pleasures of small town Vermont. And, we'll once again be housing our filmmakers in the wonderful homes of area residents, an unforgettable experience that distinguishes MNFF from so many other festivals. We will host stimulating Craft Panels and Distribution Sessions at MNFF8, along with welcoming celebrated directors, producers, actors and writers to our stages. There will be a lively Champagne Reception for our attending filmmakers, along with a terrific Filmmaker Networking Lounge, plus daily Happy Hours and great Evening Parties at vibrant outdoor venues around the Middlebury area. And, of course, we'll wrap up MNFF9 with the wonderful VTeddy Awards at the Closing Ceremonies, where our winners take home the coveted VTeddy trophy in recognition of their outstanding work. Keep up with all the developments for the 2023 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival at middfilmfest.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Once again, our MNFF9 submission window opens January 3, 2023. We hope you'll give us the opportunity to consider your fine work.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival offers the following Awards and Prizes:

- The VTeddy Award, our coveted and iconic custom made tuxedo-clad Teddy, in the following categories: Best Narrative Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Audience Award-Feature, Audience Award-Short
- The Hernandez/Bayliss Prize for the feature film that best captures the triumph of the human spirit and honors the inspirational power of independent filmmaking. Value: $1000.
- The Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film, honoring a woman filmmaker whose feature film boldly portrays the story of a person or events of historical significance. Value: $1000.
- The Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking, honoring a feature film with exceptional insights into environmental issues. In recognition of Gaia, Mother Earth in Greek mythology, this award seeks to encourage new filmmakers from around the world to bring widespread attention to global sustainability, environmental justice and climate change concerns. Value: $1000.
- The Shouldice Family Prize for Best Vermont-Made Film, honoring a Vermont-based filmmaker whose short or feature length film is of exceptional significance. Value: $1000.
- The Kate Hearst Prize, given to a feature or a short film that explores human connectivity in our increasingly interdependent world by revealing vital relationships between individuals, local communities, global collectives and/or species who share our planet. Value: $1000.
- The Gamble-Paison Prize for Best International Feature Film, recognizing excellence in feature narrative or documentary filmmaking by a first or second time international director. Value: $1,000.
- The Swift House Prize for Best Depiction of the Arts, the Swift House Prize for Best Depiction of the Arts, presented to either a feature or short film that best portrays a story of an artistic creation or endeavor. Value: $1,000.
- The Thaddeus Stevens Prize for Social Engagement, in tribute to the heroic Vermonter, Thaddeus Stevens, who played a decisive role in the abolition of slavery and the establishment of free public schooling in America. Value: $500.
- The Ralph Steiner Prize for Poetic Cinema, in recognition of the groundbreaking work of pioneering American documentarian and photographer Ralph Steiner. Value: $500.
- The AICEF Prize for Cross-Cultural Filmmaking, honoring an American filmmaker whose work deftly explores and embraces cross cultural themes, and awarding an all-expenses paid round trip to screen their film at the 16th Annual Bali International Film Festival in Indonesia in May 2024 and a showcase screening at MNFF9 in August 2023. Value: $3,000.
- The Vermont Symphony Orchestra [VSO] Award for the Best Integration of Music Into Film, given exclusively to a short film director. The 2023 award includes an initial screening of the film at MNFF9 in August 2023 and multiple live performances of the winning film’s score by the VSO alongside simultaneous screenings of the film as part of the VSO’s winter/spring events in early 2024. This dynamic performance/exhibition combination will also take place at MNFF10 in August 2024. Travel arrangements will be supported by MNFF to bring the filmmaker to a select VSO performance. A remarkable and clearly distinctive award, by any standard.

- The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival also offers screening fees to a select group of our winning filmmakers for allowing us to present their work as part of MNFF's popular Vermont Tour, which brings the work to 6-7 venues around the State in April 2024. The Festival, in addition, underwrites all the costs of booking the Tour venues and marketing the Tour screenings. Fees to filmmakers are determined prior to the start of the Tour.

GENERAL RULES

The 9th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival – August 23-27, 2023

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is entirely dedicated to new filmmakers and their dynamic work. We are only accepting first or second features OR first or second short films. If you have already completed three short films, for instance, but you want to submit your first or second feature, we welcome that. You must have completed your submitted film after February 1, 2021, so that it represents current work.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is not accepting works-in-progress.

All submitted films must comply with the Submissions Guidelines including deadlines, exhibition format, entry material, etc., as detailed in our listing. Please check our website for further details (middfilmfest.org).

We are offering secure online screening of submitted films through FilmFreeway.com and we strongly encourage you to take advantage of this fine service. Submission fees vary by deadline so make sure to upload your film prior to a particular deadline to qualify for that fee level. In no case will your film be considered if you upload it after the final deadline of the Extended Window.

We are NO LONGER accepting a physical submission copy of your film, i.e., BluRay or DVD. All submissions must be digital and uploaded via FilmFreeway.

More than one entry may be submitted. However, each entry must be accompanied by a separate entry fee.

Any films submitted without a paid entry fee will be disqualified from the submission review process.

Because of the heavy volume of submissions, we will NOT email you when we receive your submission. Once it is securely up on FilmFreeway, you can safely assume we have been notified by the platform.

Films submitted must be available in English or in the original language with English subtitles.

Submit your film as early as possible, please. This gives us more time to consider your work.

Entry fees are payable by credit card, check or money order to the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and are non-refundable. Fees for foreign entries should be paid by credit card or international money orders in U.S. dollars, again payable to the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

Entrants are responsible for obtaining any necessary licenses, royalties, release forms, clearances and permits necessary to present their work. The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is not responsible for any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits or royalty infringement related to the work. If your work is accepted into the Festival, we must be able to screen it without any encumbrances whatsoever.

Accepted films must be available in the designated exhibition formats: .mp4, .mov, .h264, ProRes, DCP or BluRay.

Accepted films may screen in limited engagement theatrically prior to Festival exhibition, but cannot already be available due to clearly monetized distribution deals, e.g., iTunes, Vudu, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple TV+, HBO & HBO Max, Showtime, Cable VOD, PBS broadcast or cable telecast, prior to the start of the Festival on August 23, 2023. However, films with distribution deals concluded prior to the Festival but not in effect until after the Festival will be considered for acceptance at MNFF.

Notification of acceptance will be emailed through FilmFreeway. We ask you not to call the Festival office. All correspondence will be done through email and only with the original submitter.

If your film is selected, you will be asked to provide a digital press kit which includes: director's headshot and brief bio, color and/or B&W stills from the film, brief description of the film (75 words max) and a downloadable video trailer (cleared for use on the Festival website).

The date, time and location of the screenings of films are solely at the discretion of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

As part of its Vermont Tour, the Festival will award additional screenings to a small selection of our top films. These screenings will take place in a variety of venues throughout the state of Vermont in April 2024. The venue booking and marketing costs of this important additional exposure will be borne by the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and includes the payment of an exhibition fee to the selected filmmakers. The Festival requires that, as a condition of acceptance into the Festival, the filmmaker allow these additional screenings of their work, appropriately compensated, unless barred by an existing distribution agreement.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival will take great care in the handling of your entry but will not pay additional charges for originals, masters, or special prints.

DVD/BluRay screeners will not be returned unless the filmmaker is willing to accept the cost of doing this. Please do not send originals or masters.

If an accepted filmmaker provides a DCP exhibition copy, the Festival will return that copy via UPS upon request.

All films selected for exhibition grant the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival the rights to use footage, stills, titles and information from the film for promotional purposes.

All filmmakers will be notified by July 7, 2023 via FilmFreeway email regarding their acceptance into the Festival.

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

You hereby affirm that you are the authorized representative for the above mentioned film [as noted on the entry form]. You grant the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival all rights necessary to exhibit and promote the above-referenced film, if selected, at the 9th Annual Festival, August 23-27, 2023. You represent that such exhibition will not violate or infringe upon any rights whatsoever (including copyright, trademark, musical or contract right) of any person or entity. You further represent that you are authorized to submit the above-referenced film and, if selected, will deliver the film either digitally or physically to the Festival office no later than July 31, 2023. You also affirm that the film will not be in commercial distribution and will not have aired on broadcast or cable television or on a streaming service in the United States prior to August 23, 2023.

Further, per the specific description in the General Rules, you grant permission to the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival for additional limited and compensated public exhibition of the film for its MNFF Vermont Tour should this film be selected as one of the top features of the Festival. All decisions of the Festival regarding the designation of the top films selected for additional exhibition around the state of Vermont will be final and binding on all participants.

You also grant the Festival the right to utilize an excerpt from this film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. Additionally, you will indemnify and hold harmless the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival from 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 material entered. You have read, understood, and hereby agree to the terms written in the General Festival Rules for submissions to the 2023 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

Overall Rating
Quality
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Networking
  • Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is a must attend for new filmmakers! The work of the directors and entire team give new filmmakers an incredible experience into the festival circuit. Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and the entire town know how to take care of filmmakers from uniquely crafted gatherings, housing with wonderful community leaders, networking sessions, panels and workshops, this festival rolls out the red carpet and makes you feel part of something very special. Thank you Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival for including Assaman as part of your Official Selection this year!

    November 2022
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    Response from festival:

    You are most welcome, Katrina! We loved hosting you and it was our distinct pleasure to screen Assaman, a beautiful film.

  • Thomas Farm Films Inc.

    This is a sneakily great little festival. Though technically a "small" fest they organize a lot of programming and it's run very professionally. The town's adorable, they have 4 screening venues within walking distance and everyone gets behind the festival. It's clearly growing. There's also a lot done to make visiting filmmakers feel welcome.

    Short filmmakers -- do you have a piece in the 10-20 min range? This is a good fest for you to submit to. Unless they change the format going forward, MNFF doesn't do shorts-only blocks, rather always playing 1-2 shorts before a feature. So while they do screen short shorts, it's a great programming opportunity for those longer shorts which are difficult to fit into blocks at other fests. The short/short/feature screenings are well curated, thematically.

    Screenings are well attended. The audience demographic skews towards the distinguished ages (though Middlebury is a big college town, none of the college kids attend except those working the fest). Some tech issues at certain screening venues but I'm assured they're fixing this. Good blend of local through international entries, fresh, new work and 'Honoree' revisits (I saw 'Slam' with Marc Levin in attendance). Also a good blend of celebratory atmosphere with networking.

    Overall, a really pleasant surprise. New filmmakers should strongly consider submitting, especially if you'd be able to attend.

    - Noah

    November 2022
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    Response from festival:

    Really appreciate this thoughtful and insightful review, Noah. We were delighted to host you in Middlebury and to screen your enormously creative short, Monster in a Box. We hope to see you back at MNFF in the near future.

  • Clint Butler

    I am so proud to have been an official selection of MNFF8 and to have had the opportunity for their audience to hear Virginia's beautiful score, inspired by my mother and her story. While I couldn't attend this year, I am very grateful for being a part of the community and look forward to future festival seasons. Thank you!

    October 2022
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    Response from festival:

    Most welcome, Clint! We appreciated the opportunity to screen your fine short documentary and look forward to seeing what you create next.

  • Jesse Torres

    A great experience. Well organized, lots of networking opportunities, clear communication. Would highly recommend.

    October 2022
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    Response from festival:

    Thanks for joining us in Middlebury, Jesse! We loved your incredible short [with its great soundtrack] and the huge effort you put into making it happen. Congrats and see you in the future!

  • Donna Serbe-Davis

    The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is a great festival! Sadly, I was unable to attend but my experience interacting with their team was both warm and encouraging. It was immediately apparent they would provide a positive experience for both participants and audience members. They were professional and well organized, with great communications, and they screened so many beautiful films. I'll look forward to attending in the future. Bravo Middlebury!

    October 2022
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    Response from festival:

    Thanks for gracious words, Donna! Truly appreciated. It was our pleasure to screen your outstanding doc feature and we hope the "sequel" is equally compelling.