The Midwest Film Festival is the nation's only film festival solely dedicated to the Midwest filmmaker, presenting audiences with regionally produced cinema through the year. This year-round film festival sits proudly at the center of the film scene in Chicago and the Midwest and is dedicated to celebrating and supporting the Midwest film community.

We have 5 Themed Screening events throughout the year - Comedy, Female Filmmaker, Union & Indie Passion Projects, Advertising Community, and Music in Movies. In addition we host a large summer bash at Cinespace Film Studios in August and The Best of The Midwest awards in December. All entries selected for our theme nights will automatically be entered to win at the Best of The Midwest Awards.

Category deadlines are based upon a 1-month out time frame from each theme that correlates to that Themed Screening. Our final event of our season is the Best of The Midwest Awards on December 3, 2020

2020 Season Event Dates:
2/22/20 - Comedy Shorts Night
4/22/20 - Female Filmmaker Shorts Night - Postponed - Will be rescheduled
6/16/20 - Union & Indie Passion Projects Shorts Night
8/14/20 - Summer Bash at Cinespace Chicago
9/17/20 - AdCom Shorts Night
11/2/20 - Music Videos & Music Shorts Night
12/3/20 - Best of The Midwest Awards

Each Themed Screening will include a participation certificate for all selections and one merited project will win the judges trophy.

Films and filmmakers selected for a Themed Screening during this year-round film festival will be automatically eligible for nomination to be recognized with an award at the Best of the Midwest Awards (BMAs), out annual gala event and fundraiser. Award categories include: best comedy short, best female short, best indie passion project short, best union passion project short, best advertising community short, and best in music video or short, director of the year, actor/actress of the year, editor of the year, breakout film award, Best of the Midwest runner up, and best of the Midwest grand winner.

PLEASE REVIEW OUR FAQ, BELOW:

THE MIDWEST FILM FESTIVAL IS DEDICATED TO MIDWEST FILMS. DEFINE "MIDWEST."

We define the Midwest as the ten-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU MEAN BY "MIDWEST FILM?"

Ideally, a “Midwest film” is one that is wholly produced in the Midwest by Midwest filmmakers. However, on an individual basis, we do also consider films produced by Midwest filmmakers outside of the Midwest and films produced by non-Midwest filmmakers within the Midwest.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM LENGTH TO BE ELIGIBLE AS A SHORT?
For our 2020 programming we are only accepting shorts that are 25 minutes or less.

SO IF A CHICAGO FILMMAKER SHOOTS A FILM IN WYOMING, WOULD THAT QUALIFY?

Films produced outside of the Midwest are considered on an individual basis. If a film is shot in Wyoming and the director, producer and lead actors are all Midwest, then it is likely we will accept that film for consideration. If a film is shot in Wyoming with an all-Wyoming cast and crew but only the EDITOR is Midwest, it is unlikely we will accept the film for consideration. The best thing to do is to e-mail us before submitting your film if you are unsure your film will qualify.

WHAT ARE YOUR SPECIFICATIONS FOR FILM SUBMISSIONS (LENGTH, GENRE)?

For the 2020 season of The Midwest Film Festival we are considering only short form content films in these categories: Comedy, Female Filmmaker, Union Passion Projects, Advertising Community, and Music in Movies

WHEN WILL I BE NOTIFIED OF MY SUBMISSION STATUS?

Because our film festival screenings are held year-round, the screening process can range from three weeks to a few months as we program our monthly screenings around each theme Generally speaking, though, a film is considered under consideration until the filmmaker is notified otherwise.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A FILM AND WHAT IS YOUR SELECTION PROCESS?

We're dedicated to great Midwest filmmakers, films, and short form stories of any genre with-in our categories, and each submission is considered and scored on an individual basis.

Upon submission, members of our Screening Committee** view and score each film 1-10 in the following areas: Creativity/originality (is it a fresh idea, creatively executed?), direction, writing, cinematography, performances, production value, pacing, structure, sound quality/music.

After each film is scored by Screening Committee members in these areas, an overall score is calculated from each judge based on the average scores given in each area. Overall scores given by the judges are then calculated to formulate an overall average score. Films receiving high scores from the Screening Committee advance to be considered for screening.

Screening Committee members and festival leadership then work together to program each month's film lineup based on many factors like overall film quality, as well as other factors such as monthly theme, flow with other films (if showing multiple films in one night), timeliness of film's message, and similarity to other recently screened films. Which is to say, sometimes we have to reject great films because we recently showed a film on a similar topic or other very practical reason like that.

** Our Screening Committee is made up entirely of volunteers who are film industry professionals. At present, we have 34 members of the Screening Committee, and approximately 54% of the committee is female-identifying

I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS FOR YOU! WHAT SHOULD I DO?

No problem! Feel free to e-mail us and our Submissions Dept or Executive Director Erica Duffy (erica@midwestfilm.com), and we'll get right back to you as soon as possible.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Laura Madalinski

    Highly recommend! Very communicative, friendly, and helpful. We only had two weeks to get word out about the screening, and it still sold out!

    February 2020
  • Matt Knudsen

    The festival was very well run and supported by an incredible community of film makers and fans. Highly recommended!

    August 2019
  • Midwest Independent gets a strong recommendation from me. I loved screening my short there for Midwest Shorts night in March 2019. The staff does a fine job of curating the films and creating a culture that not only nurtures indie film, but also celebrates the Midwest as a unique backdrop for great storytelling.

    August 2019
  • I really enjoyed this festival! I was a rookie and they welcomed me in. Got to meet a lot of really exciting Midwest filmmakers on a comedy showcase night. Loved a lot of what I saw. Really into this as a local institution!

    December 2018
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much, Ned! We really appreciate you for joining us, and for you kind words. Hope to see you again soon!

  • Ashley Brandon

    A wonderful festival that is such a valuable resource to Midwest filmmakers and film lovers.

    September 2018
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    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much, Ashley! Hope to see you again, soon.