One of MovieMaker magazine's "Bloody Best Genre Fests in the World."

"The Cannes of horror"
- iHorror

"One of the best fests in the world ... a wonderful, welcoming home for fans of independent horror and genre cinema"
- Dread Central

"One of the most highly regarded horror film fests in the United States"
-Gruesome Magazine

"One of the best-curated shorts programs on the planet"
- The Film Coterie

- We Are Indie Horror

"Immediately in the class of the best genre festivals anywhere"
- Bloody Disgusting

"Quite possibly the best four days of film programming ever put together, EVER"
- Days of the Dead

"Among the premier horror film festivals in the country, if not the world."
- Horror Hound

"A must for genre filmmakers and fans"
- From Dusk Till Con

Cheer! Shudder! Never sleep again! Audiences and filmmakers discover their new favorite genre films at the world’s premier program of horrific, dreadful and weird movies – Nightmares Film Festival.

Nightmares Film Festival is a destination horror and genre fest conveniently held in the heart of the Midwest: easily reached, easily navigated and inclusive Columbus, Ohio. NFF sets itself apart from other genre fests by its deep year-round connection to the horror filmmaking community, which gives it the first line on the rarest, scariest, most daring and most unsettling films being created around the world.

Festival screenings are held at the world-renowned Gateway Film Center, named one of the 20 best art houses on the continent by Sundance. The film center’s dedicated team of expert projectionists – maybe the last such team in the country – oversees all presentation, to ensure every film looks and sounds its very best.

Nightmares Film Festival celebrates writers with a screenplay contest for horror feature and short scripts, overseen by a Script Pipeline grand champion and 2017 Screenwriter of the Year. Support for screenwriters includes an opt-in internal listing service before the festival, which allows all selected filmmakers the option to read finalist screenplays and meet with the writers at NFF.

NFF also rewards fandom with surprise gifts and giveaways for its most faithful screening attendees, lovingly known as The Sleepless. So don’t skip that midnight block!

World-class screening facilities. Top-notch films. Filmmakers and fans being shocked and celebrated together. Nightmare Film Festival is a prestige festival and part of advancing horror filmmaking around the world.

Short and feature filmmakers and screenwriters selected for NFF compete for the coveted Night Mare, the festival’s beautiful hand-sculpted award honoring the dark horses of horror and genre filmmaking. The Nightmares Film Festival Night Mare is designed and sculpted by toy and figure artist Tony Simione (Star Wars, Walking Dead, Aliens, Marvel Superheroes, Nightmare Before Christmas).

Awards and Night Mare statuettes are given for:

The Film from Hell – best of the festival
Best overall feature/short
Best horror feature/short
Best thriller feature/short
Best midnight feature/short
Best horror-comedy feature/short
Best director feature/short
Best cinematography feature/short
Best writing feature/short
Best actor feature/short
Best actress feature/short
Best Ohio film

Screenwriting: best screen play feature/short

Submission Eligibility:
The 2018 festival welcomes for consideration short films of 59 minutes or less and feature films of 60 minutes or longer in the categories of Horror, Thriller and Midnight as described below, produced after January 2014. Premieres are prioritized in programming.

Horror: Tales of terror and death.
Thriller: Tales of dark suspense.
Midnight: Tales of the weird and bizarre.
True Crime/Documentary: True stories of the horrific, especially of real crime

All submissions not originally in English must be subtitled in English, and screenplays must be in English.

Submission Materials:
1) Entry fee paid by credit card or PayPal. Entry fees are non-refundable.

2) Private online/FilmFreeway screener link (preferred) or 2 preview DVDs (NTSC only) postmarked by the listed deadline and mailed to the festival's attention at 1550 N. High St., Columbus, OH, 43201. Please test DVDs on several makes and models of players. DVD+RW and DVD-RW are not acceptable formats. DVDs will not be returned.

The Nightmares Film Festival jury is composed of film production, exhibition, press and audience community members. Their decisions on official selections, award nominees and award winners are final.

Filmmakers of selected films will be notified by email or phone.

Exhibition Prints:
Nightmares Film Festival accepts for exhibition HD digital files, Blu-Rays (features) and DCPs. Materials must be received by the cutoff communicated to selected filmmakers; films not received by the cutoff will be replaced in the program. The festival does not pay shipping costs for delivery or return of materials.

The Fine Print:
NFF reserves the right to disqualify any submission without refund of submission fees.

While premieres are not requirements for NFF, premiere status is considered in final programming decisions.

All accepted films are scheduled at the discretion of the Nightmares Film Festival staff.

Films produced or financed by a major motion picture studio are eligible for festival screenings but are not eligible for competitive awards. Films that have acquired distribution are eligible for festival screenings but are not eligible for competitive awards.

Nightmares Film Festival is hereby granted the right to use an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The festival is hereby also granted the right to use image(s) and/or biographical information of the filmmakers for promotional purposes. The festival reserves the right to fill in any information not supplied by the filmmaker from whatever source available and will not be responsible if incorrect information is entered.

It is the responsibility of the filmmaker to secure authorization for any copyrighted material that may be used in the film. I shall indemnify and hold harmless Nightmares Film Festival from and against 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 videos entered.

NFF does not pay screening fees.

By submitting your film, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of this agreement.

Overall Rating
  • Kevin Beauchamp

    Nightmares was always at the top of our list of festivals to not only attend but submit to. When our film was selected and nominated, we were over the moon.

    Everyone we had talked to raved about the event, the programming, and the communication from Jason and the staff. They were not wrong.

    Even though we couldn't attend, the communication was stellar. Not one stone left unturned. There is a real and true sense of community with this festival.

    I highly recommend Nightmares and look forward to submitting our next film to them in the very near future.

    October 2019
  • WOW. WOW. This is now a favorite festival of mine. I have been fortunate enough to goto several festivals, but Jason and company are so well organized friendly and welcoming. I CANNOT recommend this festival enough. They do things so well and so unique here, and do not get me started about how incredible the Gateway Film Center is. If you are filmmaker or a fan of genre movies I cannot think of a better festival to attend EVERY YEAR.

    Thank you again!

    October 2019
  • Alison-Eve Hammersley

    I’ve been to a handful of genre festivals at this point, and Nightmares was the first and still manages to be the best. The community they manage to build between all of the filmmakers is unbelievable — I’m not great at networking and I still made life long friends at Nightmares. Would definitely recommend attending this one.

    October 2019
  • Zeke Farrow

    I had a blast. From the second my film was selected, I was included in their incredibly welcoming social media family. Festival organizers and fellow filmmakers started to get to know each other and our work weeks before the festival. When we all arrived it was like meeting people we already knew. Getting to see the awesome genre films people are making was exciting. I expect to be playing along side many of these films in the year to come. Nightmares is relatively young, but it feels like it’s well-seasoned and been around forever - and a good thing, because I plan on returning.

    October 2019
  • Mia'kate Russell

    This festival rocks!!!! Thanks for everything guys x

    November 2019