Filmmakers love our volunteer-run 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Est. 1959, Movies On A Shoestring, Inc., produces and presents the Rochester Int'l. Film Festival annually. It's one of the longest running, continually held Short Film festivals in the world! No wonder we're oft voted "BEST Local Film Festival" despite stiff competition.

Selected entries appear at George Eastman Museum's Dryden Theatre (Rochester, NY). We foster a love of motion pictures by screening short films from around the globe which are rich in artistic expression. We also educate viewers in art and technique. This results in an eager reception for your cinematic creations.

Rochester Int'l. Film Festival may not offer cash prizes but it delivers hospitality and recognition galore! We host filmmaker outings (private tours, trips, parties, etc.). We issue Certificates of Merit to films not screened but of notable technical or thematic quality and we list Honorable Mentions on our website.


• Distinctive Shoestring Trophy (films screened at the fest)
• Certificates of Merit (for films not screened but notable)
• Commemorative program (films screened at the fest)
• Accommodations assistance (films screened at the fest)
• Special lunches, dinners, tours, etc. (films screened)
• Filmmaker swag bags (films screened)
• Local press coverage (films screened)
• Critique Letter (EACH film submitted)


+ Entries: 30 min. MAX
+ Genres: Open to most all genres
+ Payee: "Movies On A Shoestring, Inc."
+ Payment (USD only): PayPal, Check, International Money Order
+ Preview format: Online stream, digital download or DVD (NTSC, Region 1, Region Free)

When mailing correspondence or submitting films, include a copy of your Entry Form and ONLY use the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). We use a P.O. Box and CANNOT accept deliveries initated through any other courier.

- NO fee waivers availble (we're a nonprofit)
- NO episodes: Stand alone, self-contained works
- NO video components or fragments of larger works
- NO tapes or discs containing multiple entries (submit separately)
- NO late entries accepted (must be postmarked by stated deadline)

While your entry is handled with care, we DO NOT accept responsibility for lost, stolen or damaged entries.


Our selection process unfolds in (2) stages. First, each entry is viewed in its entirety by Screening Committee Members who 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 viewer impressions (with direct quotes).

After Preliminary Judging ends, a select panel of Final Judges views the advanced entries in their entirety again. Among those, official festival selections are identified. Each entry selected to screen at the fest receives our distinctive Shoestring Trophy. Selected filmmakers get assistance with lodging, meals and local transportation.

Because we DO NOT charge admission, our festival attracts large and enthusiastic crowds of film lovers. What little revenue we generate via submission fees, grants and/or donations defers costs associated with running, promoting and holding our annual event to give your film the absolute best chance for widespread exposure.

Films screen at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House in (4) distinct screenings over the course of three days each Spring. MOAS covers the cost of theatre rental and related insurance. 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 postmarked before December 1, 2017.
• $50 Entry fee applies December 1, 2017 to February 1, 2018.
• Entries MUST be postmarked by February 1, 2018.
• Our fest is open to films/videos of ALL genres.
• 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 (vs. FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)


Your official festival screening copy MUST be received 14 days prior to the fest.

The suggested postmark date is April 1. If the indicated format is not provided, your entry may not be shown so follow all guidelines and contact us with questions. To verify that we received your entry, submit a self-addressed, stamped postcard or request a confirmation e-mail. Thanks. We look forward to your submission!


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


Voicemail: (585) 496-4433 | (585) 496-4IFF

Overall Rating
  • Vijay Varman

    Excellent festival with great communication. Highly recommended.

    June 2019
  • For starters this has to be one of the friendliest and most accommodating film festivals around. This festival goes out of its way to look after the filmmakers - from transportation around the city, accomodation, organised trips and tours. Regrettably, I wasn't able to attend - so there's a few points I can't really comment on. However, the communication and interaction with the dedicated staff and the generous volunteers who work diligently to bringing this festival to life every year - is amazing. Helpful in every way. The line up for this year's festival was a stellar. A diverse selection from an array of very talented filmmakers from around the globe. Plus, all filmmakers selected for screening are awarded the festival's quirky and unique Shoestring trophy. Just got mine in the mail and it's fabbo! Highly recommended.

    May 2019
    Response from festival:

    Hi Brendan,
    Thanks so much for the generous review. Also, happy the (quirky!... love it!) trophy arrived safely because I'm in charge of all tailbacks and it's always good to hear of the safe arrival! Hope you keep submitting and make it to Rochester one year!
    Donna Hooker
    Submissions Chairman, RIFF

  • Lauren Shein

    Unfortunately I couldn't attend but I've only heard fantastic reviews. Great communication from the organisers. Thank you... hopefully next time.

    May 2019
  • March Mercanti

    Any film festival that offers a critique letter regardless of acceptance deserves recognition. Thanks for being extremely personable in a film festival world were sometimes you don't even hear back about a submission.

    May 2019
  • Joanne Hock

    We had a remarkable experience at the Rochester International Film Festival. I've been on the festival circuit with two recent documentaries and the treatment of the filmmakers was exceptional. We were welcomed warmly, transported and fed like royalty. The behind the scenes team went out of their way to "show off" their region and interesting museums and sites to us. The screenings of the films went flawlessly. We were given an opportunity to meet the other filmmakers and build relationships as well as see the work at the event. Hats off to Josephine and her team. They really know how to celebrate filmmakers and their films.

    May 2019
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Joanne,
    We loved having you and your remarkable film at out festival - and thanks for the kind words.

    Donna Hooker
    Submissions Chairman