Founded in 1969 as the Sinking Creek Film Celebration, Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is one of the longest-running film festivals in the country and one of the most acclaimed festivals in the South. Hosted in Music City, NashFilm attracts enthusiastic film lovers from all across the country and has been praised by film-goers and filmmakers alike for its unique combination of big city festival atmosphere and laid back Southern hospitality.

Our 2021 Festival is committed to presenting a Festival that includes in-person screenings at a variety of venues around Nashville in addition to offering a majority of the Festival films, panels and Q&As online securely through our partner Eventive. Please note that the scope of the in-person portion of the Festival is subject to ongoing federal, state and local public health guidelines. With that said, we are looking forward to our re-imagined 52nd Nashville Film Festival and the continuation of our mission to elevate and honor filmmakers, screenwriters, musicians and artists from around the world.

Nashville Film Festival offers $100,000 in cash and in-kind sponsor prizes to filmmakers with winners selected by industry power players – including studio representatives, producers, and fellow filmmakers.

The winning short films in the Narrative, Animated, and Documentary Short Film Competitions are eligible for Academy Award® consideration without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.

NOTE: This is the competition portal for films, for screenplays go to the Nashville Film Festival Screenplay Competition page.

-Films that have screened virtually at a Festival prior to the Nashville Film Festival are eligible for submission and competition. However, films must not have premiered to the public theatrically, at a Film Festival or virtually before January 1, 2020.

-Competition is open to U.S. and International entries. Please check individual categories for additional requirements.

Non Competition categories include:
U.S. Independents: A selection of up to 6 narrative feature films made in the U.S.
World Cinema: A selection of up to 6 unique features from around the world.

-Feature films are 40 minutes in length or longer. Short films are under 40 minutes in length.

-Films not in the English language must be subtitled in English.

-Entries must be submitted for pre-screening via Vimeo or YouTube link. If you use a secured link, you are REQUIRED to keep us updated with passwords or your film may be rejected. NO HARD COPIES WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ENTRIES.

-Works-in-progress are accepted but are not encouraged. We can't promise that we will be able to watch re-edited submissions. Please only submit work-in-progress if you are submitting close to the final deadline.

-You may submit multiple entries but must fill out a separate entry form and pay an entry fee for each.

-NashFilm employees, including seasonal staff, board members, sponsors, and their immediate families, are not eligible to submit in any category to this competition.

-By submitting your work (features, shorts, episodic & VR or 360 film experience) you are giving permission for the Nashville Film Festival to showcase your work at the festival and for promotional purposes.

-Any potential prize awards are subject to all relevant federal and/or state laws and are therefore not guaranteed. Prize winners are responsible for providing required documentation in a timely manner and are responsible for any tax liabilities they may incur. Nashville Film Festival is not responsible for providing tax advice.

The individual or corporation submitting the film warrants that he/she/they is authorized to commit the film to at least two screenings at any time during the 2021 Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) taking place September 30 - October 6, 2021 and limited, ticketed, secure online presentations during that same period. Selected entries must provide exhibition copy in DCP or Blu-ray format for in-person and H264 for virtual.

Every possible care will be taken with entries while in our possession, however, we cannot accept responsibility for loss, damage or additional charges incurred en route, or due to normal wear and tear, or due to equipment failure. Do NOT send original prints or master copies.

Additionally, NashFilm is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any film.

The cost of shipping an entry to the Festival must be paid by the entrant or preceding festival. All international entries must be sent with all transportation charges, duties, and taxes prepaid by the shipper. For films accepted into the Festival, the entrant is responsible for inbound shipping. In most cases, NashFilm will pay the cost of outbound shipping of the print to its next destination. However, the Festival will not be responsible for unnecessary expedited or overnight shipping charges to other destinations.

-Entry fee (must be paid online via FilmFreeway).
-3-Line Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)
-FEATURE-LENGTH FILMS: 250 Word Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)
-STUDENTS: Include proof of student status at the time of production. (Copy of student ID or transcript.)
-TENNESSEE RESIDENTS: Include proof of residence or proof that the entry was shot predominantly in the state of Tennessee.
-Accepted entries must submit at least one digital, horizontal 300dpi still photo from the film.
-Selected films who submit a rough cut MUST submit a copy of the final edit of their film on Vimeo or other digital streaming service.
-Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants on or around July 16, 2021.

All VR submissions must be submitted digitally through FilmFreeway. Platforms: All submissions must be able to be experienced via one of the following platforms: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR.

As a nonprofit organization, our annual operations and the process of viewing the volume of submissions we receive are very costly, therefore we do not offer full or discounted waivers in most cases. We aim to keep our fees reasonable, and encourage all applicants to take advantage of our early and official deadlines to save on submission fees. Please do not email about student discounts as our student competition section is already priced at a discounted rate. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants on or about July 16, 2021.

What important dates do I need to know?
Open for Entries - January 4, 2021
Early Bird Deadline - March 26, 2021
Regular Deadline - May 21, 2021
Late Deadline - June 11, 2021
Extended Deadline - June 25, 2021
Notification Date - July 16, 2021
52nd Nashville Film Festival - September 30 - October 6, 2021

How do I submit my film?
You can submit your film via FilmFreeway. Please see our festival listing HERE for all details.

How much is it to enter?
Fees are staggered based entry categories and Earlybird, Regular, Late and Extended Deadlines. You can also receive a discounted rate if you are a Gold member on FilmFreeway.

Do you accept works-in-progress?
Work-in-progress can be submitted, though not encouraged.

Do you accept re-submission from previous years?
We do not. Any work that was submitted in previous years is not eligible for the 2021 Festival.

Do you require premiere status?
We do not require World, US or Southeast premiere status (although preferable and will be eligible for additional awards money). We DO however, require Tennessee premiere status.

Do you prefer DVD, Blu-ray or online screeners?
Online ONLY! No other form of screener will be eligible.

When we notify filmmakers or acceptance or rejection?
Filmmakers will be notified on or around July 16, 2021.

I have a question that wasn’t addressed. Who should I contact?
Please email

Overall Rating
  • Marcos Mereles

    Pleased to be selected in this prestigious festival among a great line-up of films!
    I personally couldn't attend but hope to do so in a future edition.
    Communication was excellent and professional and it's a great festival for our films to be seen. I'll definitely be submitting my future projects!

    November 2020
  • Vittoria Campaner

    One of the best curated and most compelling selection of films I have ever seen, especially in the experimental section. Despite Covid restrictions, the team was able to pull off a fantastic event, perfectly organized and welcoming to filmmakers and viewers alike. So glad and honored to have been a part of it. THANK YOU NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL!!

    October 2020
  • Lodestar Production

    We were so honored to be included among such a talented lineup of filmmakers at NFF this year. The festival offered an amazing selection of panels and virtual events that made us feel connected to the audience and other filmmakers in spite of the virtual setting. So excited to have been a part of the fest and we can't wait to support NFF next year. Thank you Lauren and the NFF team, you did an incredible job!

    October 2020
  • Chris St.Croix

    Glad to be a part of the fest for the third time!!

    October 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for continuing to support Nashville Film Festival as well as continuing to make great work! We look forward to working with you again.

  • Phenomenal festival and absolutely an honor to be a part of. Thank you for this prestigious event!

    October 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for the kind words, Colin! We were happy to have your work included in our Festival this year.