The Reel Puppetry Film Fest celebrates the craft and art of filmmaking utilizing live-puppetry performances.

The Reel Puppetry Film Fest will bring a variety of live-performance puppetry films to our loving audience. Produced by the non-profit organization Puppeteers of America, the Reel Puppetry Film Fest is a part of the biennial National Puppetry Festival, which attracts hundreds of professionals and enthusiasts.

The 2023 National Puppetry Festival is July 18-22 at the University of Maryland campus in College Park, Maryland. A special screening of "The Best of Reel Puppetry 2023" will screen on Thursday night, and top films in a variety of categories will be awarded.

Filmmaking, as it relates to performing arts, is a relatively new medium. Though one that is progressing and changing at an amazing rate. For us, this medium of film allows puppets to be seen in a new way, and reach audiences worldwide through movie theaters, festivals, personal websites, and online streaming sites like Vimeo and YouTube.

From extraordinarily polished to the genuinely handcrafted productions, “Reel Puppetry” strives to showcase just a sampling of what is currently being created in this medium. We hope you enjoy what you see, and that you will be inspired by what is out there and consider what might be possible for the future

NOTE: In order to help curb the ability for stop-motion films to easily enter within normal animation categories, we are only accepting films with live-performance puppetry.

A number of awards will be presented during the final "The Best of Reel Puppetry" screening on Thursday, July 20th.

The awards will include best overall film, puppetry performance, character design, and more!


Submissions will be juried on the basis of four categories: production quality, manipulation/performance, narrative excellence, and other artistic merit. Excellence in any of the above categories may be enough for selection: for instance, non-professional production values are not an immediate disqualifier.

Submitted films must feature live-performed puppetry. Fully animated films will not be accepted.

Submissions are open to individuals of all ages and organizations worldwide. There is no submission fee and each applicant may submit up to two films. In lieu of the typical submission fee, though, non-members are asked to register as a member of the Puppeteers of America.

There are many benefits to a membership with the Puppeteers of America, including issues of the Puppetry Journal, scholarships, and the opportunity to be part of the largest puppetry organization in the United States. Please note that you are a film festival applicant in the “How did you learn about the Puppeteers of America?” area on your Puppeteers of America membership submission form. Benefits of membership will last a full year.

We are looking for puppetry that makes use of the screen as a stage: not for recordings of puppetry designed and performed for theater or street performance.
Documentaries on topics or subjects in puppetry are acceptable.
Both full-length features and shorts produced within the past 5 years are eligible for submission. Films previously screened at the Festival are not eligible to screen again unless specially selected.

Filmmakers must have rights for any copyrighted music or content included in accepted films.

A single applicant (individual or organization) may only submit TWO films with their verified Puppeteers of America membership number.

Films must present as self-contained: if they are part of an ongoing series, TV/web/etc, they must be of sufficient narrative integrity and quality to stand on their own.

If you are submitting a multi-part series, please note that no more than TWO films can be submitted by any single applicant.

If you are submitting more than two episodes of a series, an additional application under another individual or company name with a separate Puppeteers of America membership number must be submitted.


Please upload a screening copy of your full film(s) to a streaming video site such as or You may password-protect your upload if you do not want your submission to be public (submissions will not be shared beyond the 2019 Reel Puppetry Film Fest Jury without express permission granted by the applicant), though please make Vimeo streams available for download if possible.

By submitting your film, you are granting the Reel Puppetry Film Festival and its non-profit parent organization (Puppeteers of America) the rights to use your film, and clips or images from it, for marketing purposes, and for all screenings within the Festival. No film will be screened in its entirety outside of the Festival itself.

Overall Rating
  • Pam Severns

    Awesome festival that is a part of the National Puppetry Festival through Puppeteers of America. Very well curated!

    February 2020