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 Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Narrative Shorts, Documentary Shorts and Animated Shorts. 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 Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature and our Altered States films (new American independent films). The films are voted on by members of our audience at each individual screening.

Criteria for Submission:

• All entries must be sent or postmarked no later than December 1, 2018.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2017.
• 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.
• In an effort to become a greener Festival, RRIFF asks that all filmmakers limit the materials used to send in films and submit their films in small, eco-friendly packaging, or, preferably, just send all materials online.
• 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, 2017 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. No DVD screeners will be returned.

Selected filmmakers may expect the following:

• Filmmakers whose films are accepted for competition will be notified by email by approximately March 1, 2019. All the privileges due filmmakers will be specified in this correspondence.
• Each accepted film is entitled to one (1) VIP pass, 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 2019 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 March 22, 2019. 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 dates of April 4-14, 2019. Entries that are not completed or available for screening must pull their entry prior to February 1, 2019 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
  • Robin Rippmann

    Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but the communication of the festival team was excellent and they are very generous and accommodating towards filmmakers. Definitely submit your film to RiverRun!

    July 2018
  • Shawn Convey

    As a filmmaker I can not recommend RiverRun IFF highly enough... The staff, the venues, the people of Winston-Salem were all amazing and perfect... As a filmmaker you are treated amazingly well with cars shuttling you from venue to venue, parties every night, lunch and coffee supplied throughout the day. On top of all of that the programming is TOP NOTCH! I hope all of my projects will screen at RiverRun... Thank you for the amazing time everyone!

    May 2018
  • Jeff Ryan

    Truly one of the best festival experiences we’ve had! The programming team, the audience, and the volunteers treated us with such respect and care. We cannot wait to have another opportunity to come back!

    May 2018
  • Gregg Jamback

    First off, RiverRun is our hometown film festival. And, while I've attended over the years, I've never screened a film at the festival before. It was awesome. Mary and the RRIFF team took great care of us. There were plenty of opportunities to talk with other filmmakers. And there was a buzz around the town, and bodies in the seats, that made everyone happy.

    May 2018
  • Ben Knight

    River Run was honestly really impressive in every way I can think of. If I can't make another film good enough to get accepted I'll be pissed. Such an honor to be a part of it.

    May 2018