Filmmakers and audience members love our festival! Movies On a Shoestring, a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1959, produces and presents the annual Rochester International Film Festival. It's one of the longest running, continually held short film festivals in the world. No wonder we've been voted "BEST Local Film Festival" by readers of City Magazine since 2014, despite stiff competition in our festival-rich region.

Selected entries are screened in four separate programs at the George Eastman Museum's historic Dryden Theatre in Rochester, NY. We foster a love of motion pictures by screening short films from around the globe that are rich in artistic expression. We also educate viewers in art and technique, resulting in an eager reception for your cinematic creations. Audience members and filmmakers enjoy a Q & A session following each screening.

While the Rochester International Film Festival does not offer cash prizes, it delivers hospitality and recognition galore! All films screened at the fest receive our unique Shoestring Trophy and commemorative program book. During the fest we host filmmaker homestays, meals, networking opportunities, outings, private tours, and parties. We issue Certificates of Merit to films not screened but of notable technical or thematic quality, and we list Honorable Mentions in the program book and on our website. And every filmmaker who submits to our festival receives a detailed critique letter summarizing the impressions and suggestions of our preliminary screening committee.


Films screened at the fest:
• Distinctive Shoestring Trophy
• Commemorative program
• Homestays or assistance locating accommodations
• Special lunches, dinners, tours, etc.
• Filmmaker swag bags
• Local press coverage

Films not selected for screening, but deemed notable:
• Honorable Mention or Certificate of Merit, listing in program book and on our website

EACH film submitted:
• Critique Letter


+ Entries: 30 minute MAXIMUM
+ Open to most all genres; no music videos
+ Standalone, self-contained works--no episodes or fragments of larger works
+ Preview format: Online stream, digital download or DVD (NTSC, Region 1, Region Free)
+ NO tapes or discs containing multiple entries (submit separately)

+ NO fee waivers available (we're an all-volunteer nonprofit)
+ Payee: "Movies On A Shoestring, Inc."
+ Payment (USD only): PayPal, Check, International Money Order
+ NO late entries accepted (must be submitted/postmarked by stated deadline)

When mailing correspondence or submitting films, include a copy of your entry form and use ONLY the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). We use a P.O. Box and CANNOT accept deliveries initiated through any other courier. While your entry is handled with care, we DO NOT accept responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged entries.


Movies On A Shoestring, Inc.
ATTN: Submissions
PO Box 17746
Rochester, NY 14617

Our selection process unfolds in two stages. First, each entry is viewed in its entirety by our Screening Committee. Members discuss the film's merits and vote whether to advance it to Final Judging. Whatever the outcome, each filmmaker receives a detailed Critique Letter that sums up viewers' impressions.

After Preliminary Judging ends, a select panel of Final Judges views the advanced entries to select those to be screened at the festival.

Our festival attracts large and enthusiastic crowds of film lovers who may attend screenings free of charge to give your film the widest possible exposure. Revenue generated via donations, submission fees, and grants defers costs associated with promoting and holding our annual event.

Films screen at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman Museum in four distinct screenings over the course of three day. Filmmakers submit their films time and again because of the special support and attention we give their work. Join them!


• $35 entry fee applies if submitted/postmarked by December 29, 2023
• $60 entry fee applies December 30, 2023 through February 29, 2024
• Entries MUST be submitted/postmarked by February 29, 2024
• Entries CANNOT exceed 30 minutes in length.
• DVD entries: Region 1 or Region Free ONLY.
• Submit (1) entry per disc/digital download.
• Mail via USPS (NOT FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)


Filmmakers selected for the festival will receive instructions from our projectionist. regarding the formatting requirements for your official festival screening copy, which MUST be received by the specified deadline. If the indicated format is not provided, your entry may not be shown--so follow all guidelines and contact us with any questions.


Overall Rating
  • Thank you to for awarding GHANIMAH with a certificate of Merit we are truly honoured!

    July 2023
  • One of my favorite festivals! They really roll out the red carpet for filmmakers. The daily filmmaker events, tours, meals, and networking were great. Touring the George Eastman House archive film museum was an amazing experience to be in the presence of the “resting places” of films by so many great film directors over the centuries! The historic cinematic DCP Dryden Theater with traditional roll up curtain enhanced the viewing experience. The entire festival team who interacted with us were extremely welcoming and timely with needed information. As filmmakers, we were treated like royalty. I highly recommend RIFF as one of the bests!

    June 2023
  • The 65th Rochester International Film Festival was a really lovely experience. It always makes a difference when it feels like the community is involved and excited for the event to take place.

    Marilyn, the hospitality coordinator, was incredibly communicative leading up the festival, organizing homestays and sending festival schedules. Lunches and dinners were provided which were great opportunities to mingle with the other filmmakers and event organizers.

    I enjoyed a homestay with Mary who was very accomodating, providing breakfast and car rides when necessary. This helped tremendously with the costs.

    Screening our films at the Dryden Theater right next to the Eastman Museum was a dream. My film sounded and looked very accurate on their screen, as did all of the other short films.

    Highlight for me was being able to go into the Eastman Film Archives and learning about the process of storing and cleaning old prints.

    Would definitely recommend submitting to this festival!

    June 2023
    Response from festival:

    Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you so much from taking time from your busy schedule to write such a nice review. I will repeat what we said at the festival, it's the attending filmmakers who make the festival extra special for not only the members but the audience. We are grateful to you all!
    Submissions Chairman

  • Waleed Bedour

    This was one of the best festivals I attended. The team behind it are very professional, they really care about the filmmakers and do their best to give the films the screening they deserve. The hospitality from the community is overwhelming and I can easily say it was nice to spend the weekend there with the people of Rochester. The team planned a whole weekend full of events and mixers parties, including visits to Kodak Planet, George Eastman Museum and Mansion, and MAGIC Center at RIT. I highly recommend submitting to this festival and do your best to attend it.

    June 2023
  • Great experience working with these folks! Easy and great communication. Will submit our next film for sure!

    June 2023