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
  • Adam Vincent Wright

    If you are lucky enough to be selected, I highly recommend attending this festival. It's a really quality festival from the lodging, to the parties, and, most importantly, the programming. Chris and Mary do a wonderful job.

    April 2019
  • Lara Hewitt

    The team behind River Run really truly care about film and filmmakers - you have Chris, who is himself a filmmaker, a team of projectionists who archive 35mm for fun in their free time, and some very kind and committed volunteers, generous donors and engaged audiences. It's a small town party, not a glam party, but that's the charm. It's a chance to connect in a slow, southern-state sort of way. North Carolina is a beautiful place I would not have visited otherwise and I am grateful that the festival paid the flight from Europe, that means a lot. The festival gave me a lot of encouragement to keep ploughing ahead as an independent filmmaker. What more can you ask for.

    April 2019
  • Barbara Brunner

    I‘m really honored to have been part of RiverRun festival with my shortmovie „Miles Away“. Communication was easy and i hope to be able to attend another year.

    April 2019
  • The quality of programming, the brand, the parties, and a whole host of things made this one of my favorite festivals we brought our narrative feature "Palace" to. I saw quality new films, as well as some classics RiverRun programmed. You'll meet rising filmmakers who will be great connections, and the festival works to make as many things complementary as possible. This was the festival I spent the least amount of money at, which is a big deal to me. A lot of festivals financially hurt filmmakers (who are pretty beaten down the year after a film) but not this one. RiverRun is well sponsored. You could probably not spend a dime here, but like me you'll probably want to take a little advantage of the eateries and breweries in Winston-Salem. Because most screenings have artists in attendance, every event is even more enjoyable. Lastly (and probably the most important thing) is audience attendance. I attended 2 of our 3 screenings, and our 2nd one, a weekday matinee, packed in 50 people. Pretty incredible. The staff and volunteers are super kind, and you'll have a great time here. I'm submitting all my future work here.

    April 2019
  • Gregory Dixon

    River Run has been one of my favorite festivals to visit this year. The programmers, their staff and volunteers are some of the friendliest people I've met. They were able to provide transportation and hotel for filmmakers and also know how to throw some really great parties. Do not hesitate to submit here!

    April 2019