Due to current and projected Provincial re-opening guidelines, this year's edition will be entirely held ONLINE, geo-blocked to Alberta.

At NorthwestFest International Documentary Festival, our motto is: "Nothing but the Truth". Held each May, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada NorthwestFest is looking for the best new independent documentaries & docudramas.

NorthwestFest is the unofficial 'kick-off' to Edmonton's renowned summer festival season. We are proud to present programming from around the world, and we're always looking for a healthy representation of Canadian and Alberta artists and filmmakers. In 2020, we had to "pause" our in-person edition, moving it to November, and now we're back with a quick turnaround, back to our traditional May dates!

*Please note: there are currently plans to hold the 2021 edition theatrically, with the possibility of Shorts Packages and a select number of features online as well, pending Provincial seating restrictions.

Submit your film in one of the following categories:
- PERSPECTIVE Alberta (Alberta films - ZERO submission fee for Alberta filmmakers),
- MADE IN CANADA (Canadian films),
- GLOBAL Visions (International films),
- MUSIC Docs (Music-themed films),
- RAINBOW Visions (LGBTQ films), and
- DOC SHORTS (anything 29 minutes and under).

As we have done throughout the festival's 30+-year history, we are pleased to waive submission fees for Alberta filmmakers.

Audience Awards for...
- Best Canadian Doc
- Best Global Doc
- Best Music Doc
- Best Alberta Doc
- Best Short Doc
- NorthwestFirst (Best First Feature)


We accept ONLINE submissions ONLY.

2021 NorthwestFest Submission Regulations and Guidelines

Participation in NorthwestFest implies understanding and acceptance of the following Guidelines and Regulations. Filmmakers are responsible for the accuracy of all submitted materials.

Important Dates

November 30, 2020: Early bird pricing deadline

Regular Submission Deadline: January 15, 2021

Extended Submission Deadline: February 01, 2021

March 15, 2021 Notification of Official Selections

April 19, 2021 Deadline for receipt of exhibition prints (unless otherwise arranged with programming)

May 6, 2021: NorthwestFest Opening Night

May 15, 2021: NorthwestFest Closing Night

*Please note The Festival will not view entries received after the Submission Deadline.


NorthwestFest accepts submissions of documentaries and docudramas of all lengths for inclusion in the festival. ALL topics and subject matter is welcome, especially music-themed films.

Requirements for eligibility for 2021 selection:

The film was completed after January 1, 2019, and was not previously submitted to NWF
All applicable licenses and waivers of copyrights, moral rights, trademarks and other such intellectual property rights have been secured by the filmmaker(s)
All applicable legal waivers have been obtained from all participants
Exhibition print(s) will be complete and available for screening in Edmonton between May 6 - 15, 2021
Exhibition print must be available on DCP, Blu-Ray, or via Digital File.
Feature length preview screeners WILL ONLY be accepted as secure online links
Short film preview screeners are accepted as secure online links ONLY
Films in a language other than English must be subtitled in English
Shipping/mailing costs must be pre-paid, and insurance is recommended
Submission packages must be post-marked with all applicable fees and enclosures by the deadline
PRIORITY will be given to films that have not screened in Edmonton before NWF, either theatrically or broadcast, and not available online for public viewing.

Early bird Deadline of November 30, 2020:

Feature length films 30min and up – $40

Short films 29:59min and under – $15

Regular Deadline January 15, 2021:

Feature length films 30min and up – $65

Short films 29:59min and under – $20

EXTENDED Late Deadline February 01, 2021:

Feature length films 30min and up – $75

Short films 29:59min and under – $40

NorthwestFest is pleased to WAIVE FEES FOR ALL ALBERTA submissions. Proof must be provided for the following criteria used to determine eligibility:

Albertan location, resident Albertan Writer, resident Albertan Producer, resident Albertan Director, Albertan funding source (with supporting documentation/letter)

*Pre entry submission fees are non-refundable.

Preference will be given to submissions that have not been distributed/screened theatrically or broadcast on television in Alberta prior to the 2021 Festival. All submissions are screened and evaluated by the NWF Programming Committee. Designation of a selected film’s exhibition date(s), time(s), and location(s) is at the sole discretion of the Festival. The decisions of the Programmers are final. In addition, the entrant grants NWF the right to exhibit the selected film up to three times during the Festival, in addition to Press screenings (closed to the public).

Upon notification of selection, the entrant agrees to immediately supply NWF with publicity materials and grants the Festival the right to utilize such materials for promotional purposes and to broadcast and/or screen clips.

The following is a list of materials required for each film once accepted at the Festival:

• Electronic press kit

• Film poster(s), hand bills, or associated collateral for Box Office & Venue

• Select promotional clips and/or film trailer

• Additional promo screeners for Publicity

• (1) BLU-RAY (or DVD) backup, clean of watermarks and warnings, for projection backup

• (min. 3) High resolution promo image (min 300 dpi)

• Film website or trailer URL

Applicants will be notified by email regarding the results of the Festival’s selection process by March 15, 2021. Please do not contact the Programming Department regarding the status of your submission before that date.

Upon selection, participants will be contacted via email by the Programming director with specific shipping instructions. Exhibition prints must arrive at the Festival office by April 19, 2021. Incoming shipping costs are the sole responsibility of the participant unless otherwise negotiated. Invited films must be shipped pre-paid, with all the necessary commercial invoices and customs paid, with return (or next festival) shipping information including the name of your preferred courier company and your account number.

Shipping of Exhibition Prints

Limitation of Liability and Indemnity Provisions

Although NWF will take every reasonable precaution for the safekeeping and proper handling of entry and exhibition materials, including the Exhibition Print(s), from the time of receipt to the time of release to the Applicant’s courier company or shipping agent, NWF shall not be liable to Applicant, his or her heirs, legal representatives, or dependents, or their respective assignees, for loss or damage to entry and exhibition materials arising out of the transportation to and from the Festival or the operations of NWF, its officers, directors, agents, successors and assigns.

Notwithstanding the above, NWF’s liability for claims, costs, losses, damages of any kind or any other cause, including but not limited to liability for any fundamental breach of this agreement or for patent or copyright infringement and regardless of the form of action, shall not exceed the fees paid hereunder for the submission to the Festival. The fees charged by NWF reflect the allocation of risk herein and the limited recourse to the Applicant provided for in this Agreement.

In addition, International participants should note that NWF will not assume responsibility for, nor will it accept shipments incurring expenses for terminal charges, duties, taxes or customs brokerage.

Finally, Applicant shall indemnify and hold NWF harmless of and from any and all claims, losses, liabilities (including negligence, tort and strict liability), damages, judgments, suits or legal proceedings, including court costs, expenses and reasonable attorneys’ fees, related to the use by NWF of the entry and exhibition materials, including but not limited to any claim that the Applicant’s entry and exhibition materials violates the intellectual property rights of another party.

Accepted formats for exhibition:
35mm (*by request*), DCP, Blu-Ray, Digital Download.

For more information on submissions please contact: info@northwestfest.ca

Overall Rating
  • Marilyn Gordon

    unfortunately Covid restricted us from attending but we are so HONORED To be an Official Selection from such a prestigious Documentary Film Festival....When All That's Left is Love thanks everyone from NorthWestFest who were so attentive and professional...we love you and for any documentarian this is MUST to submit to.

    November 2020
  • Thrilled to have screened amongst so many other high-calibre documentaries. Thank you NorthWestFest for programming us in Edmonton!

    July 2019
  • Derek Kwan

    Absolutely amazing hospitality. Valuable and informative industry events. And a top notch crop of documentary films. Great festival all around!

    July 2019
  • Taylor Stanton

    I've had the awesome chance to have two different films play here over the years. Their staff is so welcoming and lines of communication are great. I strongly recommend submitting here!

    October 2018
  • scott dobson

    Did not attend but service was friendly and fast.

    June 2017