Held among the spectacular rivers and bluffs of the Driftless Region in Northeastern Iowa, the Oneota Film Festival, OFF, brings compelling, innovative, and inspiring films and filmmakers to Decorah, Iowa, from around the globe. Through films that illuminate the human condition, OFF aims to engage a large and diverse audience in the critical issues of our time.

Screenings and discussions take place in the vibrant downtown business district with coffee shops, restaurants, shops, B and B’s, the Hotel Winneshiek, Arthaus Arts Center, and Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum.

OFF invites documentary, narrative, animated, and student films for its 14th annual festival March 2024. All films submitted will be juried by an international panel of filmmakers and film scholars. Festival events include screenings of films, discussions, and panels with invited filmmakers and local/regional experts; an opening night Gala; Filmmakers Reception Saturday evening; and special events in conjunction with the Decorah community.

Filmmakers are encouraged to attend the entire festival and all events. Come interact with an educated, involved audience! Please contact director@oneotafilmfestival.org for details.

Awards are offered in each film category, in addition to an Audience Choice award. Oneota Film Festival was initiated by Luther College alumni Walter Ordway, a world traveler, photographer, and filmmaker and photographer and filmmaker Kyrl Henderson.

Closed captioning recommended.

Walter Ordway Best of Fest (juried) Documentary Feature (40+ min)
Walter Ordway Best of Fest (juried) Narrative Feature (40+ min)
Walter Ordway Best of Fest (juried) Documentary Short (less than 40 min)
Walter Ordway Best of Fest (juried) Narrative Short (less than 40 min)
Walter Ordway Best of Fest (juried) Animation (any length)
Best of Fest Student Film Awards (juried): narrative, documentary, animation
Member's Choice Best of Fest Award (non-juried)

Numbers of awards are subject to quantity and quality of films submitted.

OFF accepts films that focus on the issues of our time including adventure, environmental, social justice, arts, fitness, eco-travel, food/agriculture and creativity, as well as films that address all aspects of the human condition. Filmmakers and world travelers, Luther College grads Walter Ordway and Kyrl Hendersen conceived of the Festival as a way to connect filmmakers and audience members.

Films are accepted on a rolling basis until September 30, 2023. Decisions on film selection and awards lie solely with OFF, including the right to select or reject any or all films, and will be made no later than January 3, 2024.

Any NON-ENGLISH film has to be accompanied with EMBEDDED Closed Caption in English to be displayed for review and screening. Audiences appreciate embedded Closed Caption in films in English, as well.

The Oneota Film Festival is unable to offer fee waivers at this time and does not pay screening fees for submitted films.

Overall Rating
  • Courtney Ball

    I enjoyed this festival quite a bit, as both a filmmaker and audience member. One huge positive is that it's free to attend, and it's located in downtown Decorah, which is lovely.

    From a filmmaker's perspective, there wasn't a huge opportunity for industry networking. It was mostly locals attending, but Q&A sessions were engaging and fun. (There were some tech issues in one venue with an attempted remote Q&A, which was disappointing, but otherwise things ran smoothly.)

    Overall, I recommend and would return.

    March 2023
  • Ales Urbanczik

    Thank you for selecting 'Finding the Line - An Exploration of Structural Integration' ! Thank you for the excellent communication ! Thank you for a very inspiring Q&A !

    March 2023
  • David Busch

    This was my second time having a film in the Oneota Film Festival, but the first time I was able to attend in person. The fest was well-organized and everyone involved was super friendly. The venues were various locations around Decorah, and it was fun checking out films while seeing the local businesses too. Highly recommended!

    March 2023
  • I look forward to submitting my next film. Thank you for the great support! I had a great experience...

    March 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Quinn! We so enjoyed showing your film at the festival this year! THANK you and good luck with your future projects!

  • Demian Saldaña

    Great festival with great communication from the organizers! We highly recommend it!

    March 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Demian! We appreciate your feedback and were thrilled to screen your film at our festival!