The Proteus Film Festival is part of the Zeiders American Dream Theater's annual Proteus Festival, Virginia Beach's premier creative arts festival. The 2021 Festival runs from September 16th through October 2nd. All screenings are held in the The Z's 300-seat Main Stage theater. This year's festival is anticipated to be fully open and free from public health restrictions.

The Zeiders American Dream Theater—The Z—is dedicated to presenting new works and emerging artists, and providing unique artistic experiences. Feature-length and short dramatic and comedic films and documentary works that fit any of these general criteria are highly encouraged!

Are you a student or film enthusiast interested in making a film as part of Proteus Festival? There's another way to participate, at no cost: head over to the Proteus Festival main website at and register your interest to be part of a Film Creative Team. We'll be in touch with details on how to participate, no matter where you are in the world!

All selections receive an "Official Selection" laurel and certificate.

The festival offers both a juried "Winner" award and an "Audience Favorite" award in each category.

Each category's juried winner will receive a $450 cash award.
Each category's audience favorite will receive a $250 cash award.
All entries in any category are eligible to win both of these awards in their category.

Additionally, at least one entry in each category will receive an "Honorable Mention" along with a $150 cash award. An entry winning either the "Winner" or "Audience Favorite" award is ineligible to also receive an "Honorable Mention" award.

By submitting your film, you agree that Zeiders American Dream Theater (The Z) can use parts of your film (including teaser/trailer/film poster) for promotional purposes.

To submit a film you must have created the work yourself OR own the rights/have permission of the content owner to submit the film to us.

Proteus film Festival will review films in their entirety. Films will be watched and reviewed by members of the Selection Committee, comprised of The Z's artistic staff, professional filmmakers, and enthusiasts in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

1. Entries in foreign languages must come with English subtitles.

2. All entries must have been completed after 2018.

3. Multiple entries are allowed. Entry fees must be paid for each entry.

4. The Selection Committee makes final choices for exhibition. Submission does not guarantee selection. All Selection Committee decisions are final.

5. Filmmakers will be notified by 17 August of their entry's decision.

6. Submissions are non-refundable, regardless of the Selection Committee's decision.

7. Entrants may not have a personal relationship to any member of The Z’s staff, board, or judges. A personal relationship is broadly defined for the purposes of this contest as any family, blood, or romantic and/or intimate relationship.

8. The Z is unable to support special visas in support of any exhibitions arising from this contest.

9. The Z’s artistic staff may reject any submission deemed derogatory toward any class based on gender, race, color, religion, age, nationality, disability or any other legally protected characteristic. Any rejection on such grounds will be based on the perceived artistic merit of the entry in accordance with The Z’s mission and values. Any Entrant submitting such material may be banned from future contests at The Z.

Overall Rating
  • Beautiful venue, great recognition by the Proteus team for creative efforts. We will submit and hopefully screen there again.

    October 2021
  • Cam Logan

    Great festival! Friendly people. I liked that they show each film multiple times over the course of three weekends. It was honor to have 'Bryn Gets A Life' selected as 'Best Narrative Feature'.

    October 2021
  • David Ashton

    Despite Covid restrictions, it was an excellent experience overall. The theater is beautiful and I love that they screen all the movies numerous times. Bart and Jason were so kind and passionate about the festival and film in general. I was honored that my film The Legacy Sessions received the Grand Prize for Best Narrative Short Film. I’m really looking forward to returning next year - THANK YOU Proteus!!

    October 2020
  • Carissa Gallo

    Don't miss this one! Proteus Film Festival has only been around for three years but it is a great festival. They communicate regularly with the filmmakers and were really easy to work with. They were one of the few festivals that were able to do some live (socially distanced) screenings and they screened "Oddly Popular" three times! We were not able to be there in person however Bart took the time to email us about the audience's response. We will definitely be submitting any future projects and hope this festival continues to grow because it is well worth the submission fees. I wish all festivals were like this. Organizers that enjoy the process and aren't bothered watching the submissions.

    October 2020
  • Brook North

    A great festival of not just film but also theatre and music performance. As a film festival it's relatively small, but the fact that it's cross-disciplinary is really neat. Sadly due to COVID there wasn't much possibility to intermingle with other participants, but hopefully next year there will be more opportunities like that.
    Definitely recommend if you can attend in person. Also, it's near the beach so it's a fun trip.

    October 2020