Begun in 2014, Mountain Shadow Film Society currently has hundreds of active members. Our goal is to bring the best in international and independent filmmaking to Walnut Creek (EastBay/San Francisco). We screen films otherwise unavailable in local commercial theaters. This includes award-winning short films along with feature films, periodic live presentations by the filmmakers themselves, and opportunities to engage other film enthusiasts.

Our Annual Short Film Competition has become an exciting addition to our program, presented each September to Society members, their guests and the general public. The final program includes 8-12 Finalists, with a total running time of approximately 90-100 minutes in the program.

ALL selected Finalists will receive the same $150 cash award! Audience balloting will determine Laurels for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Place, with remaining Finalists receiving Finalist Laurels.

While selected Finalists cover their own required travel expenses, we do offer free weekend overnight accommodations for those requesting it (including any traveling companion). In addition, we provide meal events for the Finalists to enjoy, including an After-Party!

Finalist agree to present their film in person at two screenings at our Walnut Creek theater venue (Saturday afternoon and evening, Sept. 14th).

1) License release: Entrant to grant Mountain Shadow public performance rights to their film, to be included on the secure video link, free of charge. (The secure video link will be disabled after the shows.) Applicant further declares their work has taken care of all necessary permission use of any copyrighted material (e.g. music) used in their film. There are also other events for the Finalists to enjoy, including a Reception prior to the screenings, a Saturday brunch and Saturday night After Party.

2) In the unlikely event the live shows are cancelled, and replaced by virtual screenings, Finalists will provide a brief two minute video introduction of themselves and their film, to be included in the compiled online show

3) If live shows are cancelled, and replaced by virtual screenings, Finalists agree to participate in a 30 minutes Q&A discussion with the audience members, via is a ZOOM link following each of the two online screenings

Submission Fee: For the tenth year in a row, and — in keeping with our mission to support independent filmmaking -- there is NO SUBMISSION FEE. Criteria for submissions:

Submissions: Short Films (running time: 1 Minute – 25 Minutes)

Categories: Animated, Live-action/ Narrative, or Documentary

How recent? The film should NOT have been completed any earlier than January 1, 2023. Films completed earlier than Jan. 1st, 2023 will not be considered.

Prior release restrictions: The film should not have been broadly screened in any commercial venue or public media (local PBS, for example): Prior festival screenings OK.

License release: Applicant grants Mountain Shadow public performance rights for its two shows, free of charge. Applicant further declares their work has taken care of all necessary permission use of any copyrighted material (e.g. music) used in their film.

Finalists will be selected by a Jury comprised of Mountain Shadow Film Society members and professional filmmakers (non-contestants).

All submissions selected as a Finalist will be notified by Aug. 8th, 2024.

Submission window opens: May 1, 2024

Submission window closes: July 15, 2024

Event Date: Sept. 14, 2023 Two identical shows: 3:30 PM & 7:30 PM.

Overall Rating
  • Matthew Boyd

    Although I was unable to attend, the subject of my film was able to make it and he had nothing but wonderful things to say about his experience. I'm definitely going to submit my next film to the competition. Big thanks to John, his staff, the film society, and our gracious hosts, Bill and Marianne Johnson!

    October 2023
  • Elise and Emily Holder

    What a wonderful experience! We were hosted by two amazing members of the film society and had a great time making connections with our hosts and filmmakers at the different events!

    October 2023
  • Aron "Teo" Lee

    The Mountain Shadow Film Short Competition was special. Organized by a film society that cares about the human experience. Curated by a team of film lovers that care about the film-makers, staff and audience of independent-film enthusiasts.

    The Mountain Shadow film society did a fantastic job of creating a community event that provided filmmakers an opportunity to break bread and talk shop before the screenings and multiple opportunities for attendees to discuss the work.

    The quality of the film selections by the jury and the sequencing was impressive and thoughtful. It was obvious that much thought and deliberation went into these choices.

    My wife and I traveled from the east coast and the festival was worth every mile.

    September 2023
  • This is 'hands down' one of the best festival experiences we have had and we are in over 53 of them. John and the whole society organized this so wonderfully. We had 2 screenings with over 200 people attending each one. The filmmaker brunch and dinner was fabulous. The best part is getting to spend a lot of time and getting to know our fellow filmmakers. We all bonded at this festival and have vowed to remain in contact with one another. The society also had very robust and thorough audience "questions and answers". Some society members even opened their home to those filmmakers who needed a place to stay.

    It is the best way to run a festival --- to have the filmmakers there presenting their films and talking about it.

    Could not recommend this high enough.


    Maryann Garger
    The Orchestra Chuck Built

    September 2023
    Response from festival:

    Maryann, thank you for your gracious review and generous comments. Mountain Shadow Film Society is committed to doing what we can to foster great filmmaking! John

  • So Youn Jeon

    A huge honor to be a part of this film festival. The director and society members were so hospitable and accommodating. Communication was clear from beginning to end. The program was unique consisting of live action films, documentaries, and animation. There was a Q&A session to interact with the audience and panel boards to stand in front of at the end of the showing to mingle. I was able to befriend all the other amazing filmmakers and it was nice to hear from them directly on what inspired them to make their films. It was truly an unforgettable experience, and I hope to return if given the chance.

    October 2022