Welcome to the second annual River Town Film Festival, where we explore community through independent films. The films we accept often have an abstract association to community yet harness the potential to deepen awareness and insight by inviting dialogue and relationship. This means we aren’t talking about The Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver. Last year we featured community found in films about human trafficking, the foster system, a rural community in NM where the only thing to do is eat pie, and even about the elves at the North Pole.

The River Town Film Festival will span three days; opening Friday, September 7 with screenings of short and feature-length films (narrative and documentary) continuing throughout Sunday, September 9. The Closing Ceremony will be capped off by a rock and roll performance by THE ORCHESTRA Starring ELO Former Members.

Our judges read like a who's who of Hollywood: Ernest Thompson (Oscar-winning screenwriter of ON GOLDEN POND); Executive Producer Marc Rosen (SENSE8); Producer Hunt Lowry (THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS; DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD; FIRST KNIGHT); Lynne Litt (TV writer of LOST, LAW & ORDER, NCIS New Orleans, THE PRACTICE and many more); Virginia Longmuir (EVP of RatPac Entertainment); Marc Reid (CFO of Lakeshore Entertainment); Lauren Williams (partner in Global Media Fusion, a global distribution and syndication company); and Producer, Director, Actor and Composer Allan Nichols (DEAD MAN WALKING, THE PLAYER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE).

This past year we saw Academy-Award winner Ernest Thompson’s community-made film HEAVENLY ANGLE followed by a Q&A by Mr. Thompson, as well as the Oscar-nominated documentary A TIME FOR BURNING, with a Q&A with the director, Bill Jersey, about how 50 years after the release of this movie we are still having the same conversation about race relations today. We also hosted the world premiere of NO REWIND, a performance documentary starring the iconic classic rock band THE ORCHESTRA, comprised of former members of ELO and ELO PART II, with the band participating in a Q&A afterwards.

The festival will take place at the Red Mill, a historical landmark that dates back to 1810 and is now home to a museum village. An antique iron bridge, built in 1870 with a gorgeous view of a 200-foot wide waterfall, connects the Red Mill with downtown. 

Filmmakers who are accepted into the festival will receive two VIP passes, which include entry to all parties and to the closing ceremony and rock concert.

Clinton is a small town that embraces a strong community spirit, and is a meeting point between cosmopolitan East Coast culture, artists, multi-generational farms and salt of the earth people. Only one hour from New York City and located on the south branch of the Raritan River, the town features a historic and quintessential downtown with locally owned restaurants and boutiques, and a contemporary art museum. Surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful countryside, Clinton draws visitors from all over the country.

Our entry fees are low in order to give all filmmakers the opportunity to submit.

Custom crystal trophies and other valuable prizes will be awarded at a closing ceremony (followed by a rock concert) for the following categories:

1. Best in Show: $500 cash prize, a RED Hydrogen One smartphone (Value $1300), and a Full Sail University student filmmaker scholarship named after the Best in Show winner.

2. Audience Choice: $500 cash prize

3. Best Feature Length Film (Narrative or Documentary): One complimentary registration to Winston Baker Annual Content Capital Summit April 2019* (value $995)
* A conference dedicated to alternative investments in film, television, digital, live and immersive content

4. Best Short (Narrative or Documentary): One complimentary registration to Winston Baker Annual Content Capital Summit April 2019* (value $995)
* A conference dedicated to alternative investments in film, television, digital, live and immersive content

To be considered, films must fall under the broad theme of Community. This might be a theme within the film itself, or it could even be that your film was made by a certain community of people. We want RTFF to deepen awareness and connection by encouraging conversation about community through the films we show. Every film has community in it because community is everywhere. It's your job to tell us where it is. No porn content.

Feature films must have a running time of 50 – 120 minutes. Shorts must have a running time 30 minutes or less.

Film submissions in a foreign language must have English subtitles.

Entry into River Town Film Festival constitutes permission and license to exhibit the film at the festival, regardless of acceptance into any other festival. By entering your film, you hereby grant River Town Film Festival the right to use the film submitted in promotion and marketing of the festival. You hereby warrant that you are authorized to enter the film for screening to the public, and you hereby grant River Town Film Festival the right to exhibit the film (and any related name, trademark, service mark, trade name, logo, copyrighted material, art and third party rights) and will indemnify and hold harmless River Town Film Festival, its officers, staff, volunteers and Board of Directors from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, attorney fees, damages and expenses which may be incurred as a result of including your film in the festival.

You are responsible for securing festival clearance rights for music, stock footage or any other material in your film, and must clear all copyrighted material in your film prior to public screening.

No Refunds.

River Town Film Festival reserves the right to change our programming and event party without notice.

Overall Rating
  • I had a blast attending this film festival! Receptive audience members, a supportive festival staff, and the quaint town made for a very enjoyable weekend. I would highly recommend this festival to other filmmakers and I look forward to submitting other films in the future!

    September 2018
  • Marvin Glover

    How many likes can I give this festival. It was amazing! I found my tribe in Clinton, NJ. Can't wait to return with another film.

    September 2018
  • adielenah perez

    This was one of my favorite film festival experiences. From the acceptance letter down to the Q&A, I felt so fortunate to be part of this event. The films were well curated, the town of Clinton is really a gem of a place and the hospitality from Kee Kee and all the staff was just perfect. My husband and I were so happy to have made the trip. Thank you for having me!

    September 2018
  • Taylor Morano

    For a relatively new festival, RTFF knocks it out of the park. Exciting events, great organization, and passionate volunteers make this a festival worth attending. For filmmakers and spectators alike, RTFF offers a warm weekend retreat to the scenic town of Clinton, NJ. Once arrived, attendees have the opportunity to explore the area, enjoy a variety of independent films, and engage with other festival-goers from around the country. Saving the best for last, the festivities end with an award ceremony and rock concert. I know I speak for more than just myself when I say this: the River Town Film Festival is an absolute blast!

    September 2018
  • Paul Sutton

    We absolutely LOVED this festival. Set on a beautiful river across a footbridge from the quaint business district of Clinton, NJ., River Town Film Festival exceeded many big-city productions on all important counts--delightful staff and judges, organization, facilities, quality of submissions, audience engagement, and community support! And nearly every filmmaker was there for some great Q&A sessions after their screening (plus an outstanding panel of industry experts). We urge all filmmakers to give them a shot, as we look forward to returning one day, ourselves.

    September 2018