Named one of Moviemaker Magazine's "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" in 2018, the RiverRun International Film Festival is a regional festival based in Winston-Salem, NC and is principally known as a filmmaker-friendly event dedicated to showcasing the year's best new international cinema. Each spring, RiverRun screens new narrative, documentary, student and animated films of all lengths from established and emerging filmmakers around the world. In addition to the Festival's annual short and feature-length juried competitions, RiverRun also presents a broad range of special events, regional premieres of significant films, celebrity tributes, family programs, retrospectives, panel discussions and parties. RiverRun is also an Academy Award qualifying festival in the Documentary Short and Animated Short categories!

RiverRun has five different juries that evaluate the competition films and award various prizes. The juries are in the following categories--Re: Vision Independent Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Narrative Shorts Competition, Documentary Shorts Competition and Animated Shorts Competition.

We also have an audience award for Best of Fest. The films are voted on by members of our audience at each individual screening.

• While we hope to have a full, in-person event we do not yet know if that will be possible. We will plan on doing whatever is the safest option for our patrons.
• All entries must be uploaded or sent no later than December 15, 2022.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2021.
• For films in our Academy qualifying sections (Documentary Short and Animated Short), if your film has already been awarded the top prize at an Oscar-qualifying festival, the film is not eligible to be programmed in a competition section at our Festival. Please let us know in your submission form if that is the case.
• All films must be in English or have English subtitles. Non-subtitled or dubbed foreign language films will not be considered.
• All clearances must be obtained for exhibition.
• Only the Producer, Director, Screenwriter or someone closely connected to the film may complete the application. Schools may submit films on behalf of student filmmakers in the student category.
• Only complete entries will be accepted. This includes the non-refundable entry fee, a completed entry form and a screener.
• Films submitted in previous years will not be accepted for submission.
• The programmers at RiverRun actively pursue the best in American independent and world cinema for the annual Festival. Films that have been released on video or DVD, have been widely screened on television or cable, or have been released theatrically preclude the Festival from accepting those films for competition. Exceptions are sometimes made for such films to be programmed at the Festival in non-competitive sections but are determined on a case by case basis.
• Films previously screened publicly in North Carolina may not be eligible for competition, but could be included in special non-competitive sections.

Film Categories for Competition:

• Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) must be 40 minutes or longer.
• Film Shorts (narrative, documentary, experimental, animated) must be less than 40 minutes.
• Student films must have been completed after January 1, 2021 and proof of enrollment is required. Student films may not exceed 30 minutes.

Although RRIFF is a competitive festival, some films may be included in the program in a non-competitive section.

Unfortunately, RRIFF is unable to provide comments about specific films not accepted due to time and resource constraints.

Selected filmmakers may expect the following:
• Filmmakers whose films are accepted for competition will be notified by email by approximately March 24, 2023. All the Festival privileges due to filmmakers will be specified in this correspondence.
• Each accepted film is entitled to two (2) VIP passes, giving free access to all events and screenings (subject to availability) at the Festival. These passes are non-transferable and must be worn at all times in clear view. Passes are not sent by mail, but must be picked up in person at the designated Festival site.
• RRIFF promotes the schedule of screenings via media including newspapers, emails, television and radio. RRIFF encourages filmmakers to help promote their films by promoting their screening(s) to industry professionals, distributors, the press and the general public.
• For entries selected to the 2023 Festival, an exhibition print or video of the film in proper format (DCP, Bluray or File (MP4 or MOV (H.264)) must be received by RRIFF no later than April 1, 2023. We do not currently have DCP capability in every theater, so alternate formats are preferable in most cases. Failure to comply with technical specifications may result in the removal of the film from Festival competition.
• Filmmakers may not install banners or posters at the theaters without the official authorization of RRIFF.
• The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The individual or corporation submitting this film additionally grants the RiverRun International Film Festival the right to one or more public screenings of the film during the Festival. Entries that are not completed or available for screening must pull their entry prior to February 1, 2023 or the film will be screened as entered.

The management of the RiverRun International Film Festival reserves the right to decide all questions regarding rules and regulations. Submission of a film constitutes that the filmmaker accepts the rules and regulations set forth herein.

Questions: Please call 336-724-1502 or visit the website at or email:

Overall Rating
  • Christopher Rucinski

    We loved screening our feature Northern Shade at RiverRun! Great communication (Mary is wonderful!) and they treat filmmakers right by offering a flat travel/lodging stipend. Very nice to attend in person and explore Winston-Salem for the first time. The festival volunteers are all locals and go way out of their way to make it fun for filmmakers. The family-run Marketplace Cinema looked and sounded amazing!

    October 2022
  • Cathy McLaughlin

    What an amazing opportunity for us to connect with the directors of the RiverRun Film Festival and their staff. We had a great time meeting people at events all around Winston-Salem and everyone was so nice. We were thrilled to see a big crowd at our showing and so happy that we had a spontaneous Q&A with the audience. We encourage you to submit and come to this wonderful film festival - you won't regret it!

    July 2022
  • An absolute honor to have Plantastic! screen at RiverRun! Thank you so much to Mary and the other staff I had the pleasure of interacting with before and during the festival. They are a top notch festival to say the least. I wish we could've spent more time attending events and screenings, but the ones we did get to enjoy were memorable and well curated. Thank you again for an amazing experience!

    June 2022
  • Lovely lovely festival. Very communicative, and we were even sent a bag of goodies! Thank you for having us and 'Cat and Moth', RiverRun!

    May 2022
  • Yalian Li

    I have an awesome experience at Riverrun. Mary and the team treated the filmmakers so well, and I was able to make some valuable connections at Riverrun. This is a great festival and I highly recommend it!

    May 2022