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. Each of the juries meet at the end of the Festival to award prizes.

There are also audience awards which are awarded to the Best of Fest, Best Re: Vision Independent Feature, and Best Documentary Feature. The films are voted on by members of our audience at each individual screening.

• The current dates listed on our page are not fully finalized. Given the changes we have had to make because of Covid-19, we are still working on the final festival dates. It will definitely be in the spring of 2021.
• 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 sent or postmarked no later than December 15, 2020.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2019.
• For films in our Academy qualifying sections (Documentary Short and Animated Short), if your film has already been awarded 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 will 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 40 minutes or less.
• Student films must have been completed after January 1, 2018 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-competition 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 April 1, 2021. All the privileges due 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 2021 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 30, 2021. We do not currently have DCP capability on all screens, 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 entry during the Festival. Entries that are not completed or available for screening must pull their entry prior to January 1, 2021 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
  • Michael Brown

    Earlier this year, our short film was selected to play at RiverRun. Then COVID hit. It was an incredible bummer that we were unable to head to the festival, but RiverRun took it upon themselves to find a solution to play the films. The team was highly communicative - sending out photos of the events as they played at as a drive in theater. Because of how they handled this pandemic, I will be submitting all my future projects to this festival, and look forward to meeting their team in person in the future!

    October 2020
  • Devon Diffenderfer

    Very honored my film "Love You Tyler" was accepted into the shorts programs at RiverRun this year. Tho sadly the festival had to cancel due to Covid-19 the communication was great and the festival sounded and looked like it was going to be awesome. Grateful to showcase the laurel of such a prestigious film fest and I look forward to going to the fest with my work in the future!

    April 2020
  • I was a part of the now, historic Class of 2020. (*sad face) . The fest was cancelled for the year. I will say that It was an honor to be selected and the communication was so on point. They were very friendly, accommodating and worked with a local organization for the arts to sponsor my screenings.

    April 2020
  • Nitzan Mager

    There's everything to love about this festival. Our feature got three screening slots over the one week of the fest. The qna's after screenings are thoughtful and well done. They offer wonderful hospitality, and the festival staff are just fantastic people. We met great filmmakers. It ticks all the boxes and really earns its stellar reputation as a top tier local festival. Would highly recommend!

    January 2020
  • Lucas Bell

    Great Festival and wonderful venues. So happy to be a part of it and come to Winston Salem for the screening of our film! (

    June 2019