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 7th Annual festival will roll out August 25-29, 2021.

Over its first six 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 now 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. Check out our many reviews on FilmFreeway from filmmakers and you'll know why Middlebury is such an essential and enjoyable destination on the festival circuit.

After successfully concluding our innovative MNFF6: ONLINE festival this past August, a move necessitated by the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now planning MNFF7 with an eye to being back "on the ground" in Middlebury. It is our fervent hope that by late August of 2021, we'll be able to welcome our filmmakers back to the safe environment of Middlebury. As with so many other festivals, the pandemic has scrambled our planning and created many uncertainties. But, we are proceeding with optimism and truly looking forward to presenting another exciting event that celebrates new filmmakers.

We will book four great venues to screen our 2021 selections: the historic Town Hall Theater, the recently renovated Marquis Theater, the beautiful Dana Auditorium and the inviting Twilight Hall, the latter two both at Middlebury College. We anticipate having as many as 85 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.

If conditions permit, we will 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, hopefully, 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. If we can offer stimulating Craft Panels and Distribution Sessions at MNFF7, we will do that, along with welcoming celebrated directors, producers, actors and writers to our stages. And we hope to find ways for our attendees to safely gather and share stories at vibrant venues around the Middlebury area. And, of course, we'll anticipate wrapping up MNFF7 with the wonderful VTeddy Awards at the Closing Ceremonies, where our winners take home the coveted VTeddy in recognition of their outstanding work. Keep up with all the developments for the 2021 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival at and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We are staying optimistic and we hope you will too!

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 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 quality. Value: $1000.
- The Thaddeus Stevens Prize for Social Engagement by a Vermont Filmmaker, 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 AICEF Prize for Cross-Cultural Filmmaking, honoring an American filmmaker whose work deftly explores and embraces cross cultural themes, awarding an all-expenses paid round trip to screen their film at the 15th Annual Bali International Film Festival in Indonesia in May 2022 and a showcase screening at MNFF7. Value: $2000.
- The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award for the Best Integration of Music Into Film, given exclusively to a short film director. The award includes multiple live performances of the winning film’s score by the VSO alongside a simultaneous screening of the film as part of the VSO’s statewide winter tour in early 2022. This dynamic performance/exhibition combination will also take place at MNFF8 in August 2022. Travel arrangements will be made and underwritten by the VSO and 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 Vermont Tour, which we plan to resume in February 2022. The Festival, in addition, underwrites all the costs of booking the Tour venues and marketing the Tour screenings. Fees are determined prior to the start of the Tour.


The 7th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival – August 25-29, 2021

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, 2019, 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 (

We are offering secure online screening of submitted films through 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 form and entry fee.

Any films submitted without a paid entry fee will be disqualified from the submission screening 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: BluRay or DCP.

Accepted films may screen in limited engagement theatrically prior to Festival exhibition, but cannot already be publicly available due to clearly monetized distribution deals, e.g., iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, Cable VOD, PBS broadcast or cable telecast, prior to the start of the Festival on August 26,2021. 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: headshot and brief bio of director, color and/or B&W stills from the film, brief description of the film (75 words max) and a video trailer (downloadable and 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, where possible, to a selection of our top films. These screenings will take place in a variety of venues throughout the state of Vermont in February 2022, assuming the Tour is viable in a post-COVID-19 scenario. 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 winning filmmakers. The Festival requires that, as a condition of acceptance into the Festival, the filmmaker allow these additional screenings of their work.

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 FedEx 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 9, 2021 via email regarding their acceptance into the Festival.


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 7th Annual Festival, August 25-29, 2021. 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 screening print to the Festival office no later than August 1, 2021. 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 25, 2021.

Further, per the specific description in the General Rules, you grant permission for additional limited and compensated public exhibition of the film to the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival 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 2021 Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

Overall Rating
  • Lisa Melmed

    We were thrilled to have our short documentary, LITTLE RINK, selected by the MNFF for 2020 and so sad not be able to attend in person. But, all logistics and communications were professionally handled and there were many great films to screen on-line. Hoping to have an opportunity to participate in person in the near future!

    January 2021
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you for this gracious note, Lisa! Very much appreciated. We do hope to have your next film in consideration here at Middlebury and wish you a productive 2021!

  • Ross Sheehan

    There were so many amazing films this year. An amazing online experience, everything ran extremely smooth. Looking forward to next year!

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Ross! We were thrilled to have your fine film in the shorts program at MNFF6: ONLINE!

  • I absolutely love this festival! One of my faves. Extremely honored to have had my short film, "Love Lives in a Void" as an official selection. They went above and beyond to make this festival happen during this difficult year by taking it online. Highlights for me were the Q&As with Karen Allen and Ken Loach (who was this honoree). Highly recommend that you submit to this awesome festival!

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Appreciate your enthusiastic and positive review, Johnny! We were most pleased to have your cool film in our shorts program at MNFF6: ONLINE. Look forward to seeing what comes next from J. Zito!

  • sarah pirozek

    Being a part of the festival during COVID doesn't give me the opportunity to give a full review, but all my dealings with Jay and Lloyd were fantastic, professional and supportive. I look forward to attending in person one day soon!!

    September 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your supportive review of MNFF6: ONLINE, Sarah! We truly appreciated the opportunity to screen #LIKE at our Festival and look forward to the next Sarah Pirozek feature!

  • Allison Mattox

    Middlebury was one of the very top highlights of my festival run. For a young festival, they run an exceptionally smooth program with the utmost care taken with filmmakers. The town is beautiful and hospitable, the screening venues are great, and there are wonderful events and parties every night.

    October 2019
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    Response from festival:

    We so appreciated you being here, Allison, and for giving us the opportunity to screen your outstanding short, Échappé. We can't wait to see your new work!