Since 2000, the San Diego Asian Film Festival has been one of the premier platforms for Asian American cinema and has grown into the largest showcase of Asian cinema in the western United States. The festival is borne out of the love for independent film and the desire to showcase the diverse Pan Asian experience through film and other arts.

SDAFF supports both Asian and non-Asian artists by giving them a venue to showcase their work, and it gives the community access to quality films that otherwise would never show in San Diego.

Prizes for best narrative feature, documentary feature, narrative short, documentary short, and animated short, as well as a grand jury prize (open to all categories) and an emerging filmmaker award (for first-time feature filmmakers).

I. 2019 Festival Dates
November 7-16, 2019 (tentative)

II. Submission Fees and Deadlines
1. A completed application and entry fee must accompany each entry. There are no exceptions to the entry fee. Entries must be postmarked per the deadlines on the listing for each category.

2. Make payment by check or money order in US dollars payable to PACIFIC ARTS MOVEMENT.

III. Programs
The Festival accepts films/videos in the following five categories: narrative feature, narrative short, documentary feature, documentary short, and animation short. Festival programming staff may use their discretion to place your film in the appropriate category.

IV. Eligibility
1. Films/videos entered into competition must be directed or principally acted by an artist of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, or contain subject matter relating to Asian or Pacific Islander cultures or communities. Clarify questions of eligibility prior to submission of entry.

2. Entries must have been completed after August 1, 2018. For feature-length films, the date of first public premiere (if any) must be after September 1, 2018.

3. Feature length entries cannot have been previously exhibited in San Diego at a film festival or commercial venue, or be available for broadcast, home video, or online for American audiences, before Nov. 16, 2019.

4. Each project entered into competition must pay an entry fee. There is no limit to the number of qualifying entries by any entrant so long as an entry form and fee accompanies each entry.

5. Foreign-language entries must be subtitled in English.

6. Films/videos cannot be re-entered into competition if previously rejected by the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

7. Entrants shall obtain all licenses, royalties, and permits necessary to present their work. Entrant will assume all costs arising from the use of patented, trademarked, franchised, or copyrighted music, materials, devices, processes, or dramatic rights used in production of work.

8. Short films previously exhibited on the Internet are eligible for entry.

V. Feature and Short Definition
A feature is any work of running time forty minutes or longer; less than forty minutes running time designates a short.

VI. Submission Materials
1. All entries must include the following:
(a) DVD labeled with film title, director, contact telephone number, and running time; unless submitted online through FilmFreeway's streaming video service.
(b) Completed Festival Entry Form (via any of the accepted submission platforms)
(c) Entry Fee

2. The Festival is not responsible for returning DVD screeners. Entry fees are not refundable.

VII. Selection
1. Festival programming staff will select and invite films at their discretion. Entrants will be notified of their selection status via email or FilmFreeway's notification system on or about July 31, 2019.

2. Selected filmmakers are expected to provide as much of the following as possible:
(a) Exhibition print. The Festival exhibits work in only the following formats, regardless of origination: 35mm film, 16mm film,Blu-ray, or DCP for feature-length works; Quicktime file, DCP, 35mm film, or 16mm film for shorts.
(b) Press kit including film stills (digital TIFF or JPEG files preferred with minimum 300 dpi), synopsis, and full production credits. Director photo and biography are optional. Additional collateral material including postcards, posters, etc. may be included if available.
(c) Clips or trailer to be used for press, promotion, and awards ceremony.

3. Selected films may be screened multiple times during the course of the Festival at our discretion.

4. Pacific Arts Movement and the San Diego Asian Film Festival are not responsible for any damage to films/videos during shipping, handling, or screening.

VIII. Screening Fees
The Festival does not pay rental fees; instead we choose to invest our resources in producing the best possible showcase for your work and promoting your work as widely as possible.

IX. Awards
The Festival presents the following awards to films in competition:
Narrative Feature; Documentary Feature; Narrative Short; Documentary Short; Animated Short; Emerging Filmmaker Award; Audience Choice Award; Grand Jury Award; International Short

Winners (except for Audience Choice Award and International Short Award) will be recognized during the festival's Gala Awards Dinner. There may or may not be additional awards. If jurors deem all films in a category undeserving of awards, they can elect to not choose an award for that category.

X. Shipping
1. Submit entries prepaid including applicable customs fees to:
Pacific Arts Movement
attn: SDAFF Entry Coordinator
2508 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 140
San Diego, CA 92106, USA
phone: +1-619-400-5911

2. Shipping via courier capable of tracking delivery of submission is recommended. Package DVDs properly and securely using bubble-wrap.

3. Selected filmmakers are responsible for delivery of exhibition prints or videos to our offices by the date designated at time of selection notification. The Festival will handle the return shipping of prints and videos after the conclusion of the Festival.

Any additional inquiries, please email:

Overall Rating
  • Quyen Nguyen Le

    Absolutely one of my favorite film festivals ever! Amazing and unexpected film selections and programming, fun parties, and the nicest people you'll ever meet. And the best snacks. Been to SDAFF for 3 years and never disappoints!

    December 2018
  • Vince Cruz

    Had an amazing time screening my short film, The Last Straw. I met a lot of great people and had a blast watching some of the films that they screened. I only wished I could have stayed for the whole festival. It was well organized and plenty of amenities and communication, so I was never lost and even got to share a little info about my film in a q&a. Definitely recommend!

    December 2017
  • Jeff Chiba Stearns

    I love the San Diego Asian Film Festival! It's one of the funnest film festivals in North America with great programming, parties, galas and staff! I've had six films screen at SDAFF since 2005 and do everything possible to attend. There's a reason why it's been nicknamed "The Spring Break of Asian American Film Festivals!" Always a blast!

    November 2016