The Midwest Film Festival (MFF) is the nation's only film festival solely dedicated to the Midwest filmmaker, presenting audiences with regionally produced cinema throughout 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.

ATTENTION: MIDWEST FILM FESTIVAL IS A YEAR-ROUND FESTIVAL AND THE EVENT DATE LISTED ON FILM FREEWAY AS THE "EVENT DATE" IS OUR ANNUAL CAPSTONE EVENT, THE BEST OF THE MIDWEST AWARDS. HOWEVER, WHEN SUBMITTING, YOUR FILM WILL BE CONSIDERED FOR OFFICIAL SELECTION AT ANY OF OUR MONTHLY EVENTS.

Join MFF on the Last Monday of each month at The Gene Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago, IL, for monthly screenings. Each event includes an incredible line-up of Midwestern Films and opportunities to meet like-minded creatives and potential collaborators. For ticket information, visit www.midwestfilm.com/get-tickets

2023 Season Calendar:
January 30, 2023
February 27, 2023
March 27, 2023
April 24, 2023
June 26, 2023
July 31, 2023
August 28, 2023
September 25, 2023
November 2023 (The Best of The Midwest Awards)

Shorts program theme highlights of 2023: Women & Gender Non-Conforming Filmmakers Night, Advertising Community Night, Analog Night, and Emerging Filmmakers Night.

Women & Gender Non-Conforming Filmmakers Night:
Our 14th annual celebration of creators identifying as female and gender non-conforming will showcase the work from historically underrepresented genders. The evening is dedicated to their stories, imagination, perspectives, and craft.

Advertising Community Night:
Chicago is one of the country's most prominent advertisement and commercial hubs employing various artists. This showcase will shine a spotlight on the creative output of these selected creators showcasing their fantastic work outside of their ‘day jobs.’

Analog Night:
The epic revival of creating using a historic cinema medium is emerging in the Midwest filmmaking community, celluloid film (Super/8mm/16mm/35mm). This style of filmmaking is both nostalgic for its viewers and very challenging to master for its creators. This evening will celebrate and highlight analog film and analog film enthusiasts.

Emerging Filmmaker Night:
We are committed to fostering the "up and coming" filmmakers of the Midwest. This theme night will highlight 10 films from creators in the first decade of their careers (10 under 10). Whether still attending film school or pursuing a lifelong desire to enter the film industry - they have arrived and are now an integral part of our community. This is their work.

Each screening will include festival laurels for all official selections. Films and filmmakers selected as an official selection 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), our annual gala event and fundraiser.

PLEASE REVIEW OUR FAQ, BELOW:

THE MIDWEST FILM FESTIVAL IS DEDICATED TO MIDWEST FILMS. DEFINE "MIDWEST."
Midwest Film Festival defines the Midwest according to the Census Bureau's definition consisting of 12 states in the north-central United States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, 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?
A short subject must be 40 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 from the 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 from the 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 2023 season, The Midwest Film Festival is accepting both short-form content and feature films of all genres. We program a wide variety of genres including documentary, 35mm, horror, sci-fi, music videos, comedy, etc.

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 multiple 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 within 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 Screening Committee members score each film 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 at submissions@midwestfilm.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Gabriel Cuillier

    What a night! It was an honor to be a part of the talented short film block at MFF

    November 2022
  • Michael Smith

    The best film festival in the Midwest!

    November 2022
  • Katie Sponseller

    I attended the Midwest Film Festival with my film, Alone Together. This festival stood out in so many wonderful ways for me and I cannot wait to have another film submitted to them so that I may continue to be a part of the great community they nuture. There is definitely an authentic love and care for both the craft and creators that I appreciated about MFF. Thank you.

    April 2022
  • Kamelya Alexan

    I have attended a lot of film festivals, this one is so special because of the “Midwest” community that comes together once a month to screen films from here. It’s always been a great festival and I’m so glad it continues to support our community!

    April 2022
  • Reynaldo Dumas

    I love the Midwest Film Festival. It's so awesome that there's a place for filmmakers from across the Midwest to showcase their work. The festival itself is so well put together thanks to their fantastic team. If you're from the Midwest, this is the place to submit your film. I will definitely submit my next project to them.

    March 2021