"The Cannes of horror"
- iHorror

"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 country.

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.

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.

Awards & Prizes

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 true crime or documentary feature/short
Best director feature/short
Best cinematography feature/short
Best writing feature/short
Best actor feature/short
Best actress feature/short

Screenwriting: best screen play feature/short

Rules & Terms

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

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 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.

116 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    Shu Zhu

    Amazing festival experience! The organizers are very communicative. A great place to meet other filmmakers and showcase your work! Looking forward to next year!

    November 2017
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    Linda Gabriele

    The atmosphere at Nightmares was supportive and collaborative and one big celluloid hug. Everything about the fest was top-notch – the vibe, the venue, the films and the World of Beer bar several feet from the theater! Our DTS group all lamented that our Sunday attendance wasn't enough and we will be back, film or no, for the annual fest!

    November 2017
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    Angel Dillemuth

    I can't express accurately how wonderful this festival is. My first film being behind the camera, producing, writing, and acting being accepted into this 4 day celebration of all things horror, is the highlight of my year. So many amazing films with really great filmmakers. Ive learned so muvh and made future collaborates. I look forward to hopefully premiering other works of mine here in years to come. Thank you Jason, Chris, and everyone else included.

    October 2017
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    Filip Terlecki

    Really happy to have had my short film SUFFER play at this festival. I've heard nothing but amazing things about Nightmares from my filmmaking friends that attended. Really bummed that I couldn't be there but I look forward to returning next time with a new project. Keep up the awesome work team Nightmares

    October 2017
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    shawn burkett

    This year was my first, but from day one the people behind the scenes were 100% attentive! Quick replies to email, extremely helpful and 100% for filmmakers by filmmakers. This is one I will return to as long as it's running!

    October 2017
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Shawn, we missed you at your screening, but we were thrilled to host your Ohio premiere. Can't wait to see what you do next -- saw you posting about DFITW 2 ... make sure that comes our way! - Jason