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.

• All entries must be uploaded or sent no later than December 15, 2023.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2022.
• 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 considered. 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, streaming services, 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.
• Shorts films (narrative, documentary, experimental, animated) must be less than 40 minutes.
• Student films must have been completed after January 1, 2022 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 29, 2024. 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 2024 Festival, an exhibition print or video of the film in proper format (DCP or File (MP4 or MOV (H.264)) must be received by RRIFF no later than April 1, 2024. We do not currently have DCP capability in every theater, so alternate formats may be preferable in some 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, 2024 or the film will be screened as entered.

The management of the RiverRun International Film Festival reserves the right to decide all 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
  • Brad Herring

    What a great festival, we're so honored to have been chosen to screen our film, Bite of Bénin at this year's festival. And a special shoutout to Mary and her entire team, they made the festival experience a memorable one for us! The communication was top notch and the films they selected were so good. We hope to have the opportunity to screen here in the future!

    June 2024
  • Our film had its world premiere at the festival. It was a wonderful experience with wonderful staff members and a very good hospitality.
    Thank you very much RiverRun and see you for an other film !

    June 2024
  • Dave Jannetta

    Our film played this year's festival and while we couldn't make the trip from Northern Cali we were delighted with the outreach, communication, and general awesomeness from this incredible festival. Thank you so much and fingers crossed we can come to a future version to get the full experience!

    May 2024
  • K.D. Chalk

    What an incredible festival! It was my longtime dream to screen at RiverRun and the experience was everything I hoped for. Team RiverRun really rolled out the southern hospitality for us filmmakers. This is a filmmaker focused festival. We had fun and engaging large audiences for both screenings. Highly recommend!

    May 2024
  • Love this festival - the location, venues, parties, volunteers and staff are all incredible. We enjoyed meeting the other filmmakers in attendance and getting to know the programmers. Don't miss this North Carolina gem!

    May 2024