"One of the 20 Great Film Festivals for First-Time Moviemakers." Moviemaker Magazine, June 2022.

"One of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World!" Moviemaker Magazine, Sept 2016 and July 2019.

"The best-curated film festival in the Twin Cities, Sound Unseen focuses on movies with musical themes, often pairing them with filmmaker appearances and live music." Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press Nov. 2015

In the fall of 1999, Sound Unseen introduced itself as a unique, cutting edge “films-on-music” festival in Minneapolis / St. Paul. In the ensuing years it has established itself as one of the premiere niche festivals in the country, and more importantly as an important and vital part of the regional cultural scene. Now in its 24th year, the festival has expanded to include year-round programming and special presentations including world and regional premiere screenings such as Anvil! The Story of Anvil!, Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL, Out Of Time: The Material Issue Story, Listening To Kenny G, Mavis, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, All I Can Say, Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records, Sound of Metal, Zappa, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?, and Meet Me In The Bathroom. Starting in 2020 Sound Unseen started offering a version of the festival in Austin, TX and has grown in both attendance and screenings each year since.

While bringing the best in documentaries, short films, and music videos it also showcases rare concert footage, interactive panels, and live music events. As part of its year-round presence, Sound Unseen offers a successful monthly screening series and special events throughout the Twin Cities and Austin, TX as well as virtual screenings available globally. This diversity in content separates Sound Unseen from the typical outdoor mega concerts and film festivals. What began as an underground film festival with only a handful of attendees has now become a well respected and known brand that has a loyal following and continues to program an exciting, unexpected, and consistent array of music, film, fashion, and art.

Sound Unseen has received press coverage in major local media including The Minneapolis Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Austin Chronicle, and Twin Cities Gay Scene, radio stations The Current, MPR, KFAN, and KUTX, and television news segments on NBC, FOX, and CBS. National media mentions have included Rolling Stone, Moviemaker Magazine, Paste Magazine, and USA Today.

There will be a prize awarded to the winning film in competition (competition films are selected by Sound Unseen staff members). There will be a three to five person jury with five to nine films in competition. The winning film will be announced during the festival.

1. Films must be Minnesota, Midwest, US, North American, and/or World premieres to screen at Sound Unseen (theatrical and/or virtual).
2. Films must be at least MN premieres to be considered and eligible to be accepted into "Competition"
3. Films that have been previously submitted to Sound Unseen are not eligible.
4. Films must have been completed on or after December 1, 2021.
5. Except in rare circumstances, films in theatrical/virtual cinema release in Minnesota prior to, or at the time of the festival are not eligible.
6. Film screeners must be submitted via private video screener link with password.
7. Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry into the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.
8. Entrant will allow usage of clips from the film for promotional use on television, radio, in print, and at live Festival events.
9. All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Non-English entries submitted without subtitles are not eligible.
10. Student film entries must include proof of student status at the time of production (i.e., copy of student ID, transcript, etc.
11. Any film submitted through FilmFreeway or that receives a fee waiver will not be allowed to request a guaranteed screening or rental fee.
12. Sound Unseen has a festival presence in Austin, TX as well so selected films will also have the opportunity to play the Austin version of the festival provided they have not screened in Austin prior to 2023 festival dates.
13. We strongly encourage all submissions to have closed captions available for their film at the time of the festival in November.

Overall Rating
  • Daniel Szlauderbach

    Sound Unseen 2022 was unforgettable experience. Jim, Rich, and the rest of the SU team welcomed us wholeheartedly into their world of music and film in one of the coolest cities in the country. Given the variety of unique theaters spread out across town — go to the Trylon! — that screened the festival's films, we were able to explore different areas of Minneapolis each day. And every night at the hotel happy hour, we met other filmmakers and artists from around the U.S. (and world). We'd jump at the chance to return to Sound Unseen.

    February 2023
  • Sound Unseen was such an incredible festival experience for my film this fall. Jim, Rich and the entire team are true lovers of music and independent film, and it really shows. I felt welcome and well taken care of. They introduced me to wonderful people, put on great networking parties and were very communicative in the weeks and days leading up to the screening/s. The lineup of films is always so cool, thought provoking and diverse.

    I would highly recommend this festival for anyone who has a film centered around music!

    December 2022
  • FirstSight Agency

    Great people and a fabulous festival. Everyone involved with the fest is generous with their time and supportive of the filmmakers. Highly recommend this festival, especially for music-related films.

    November 2022
  • Nick Canfield

    Sound Unseen is a great festival, Jim and Rich work hard to make it an excellent in-person experience for filmmakers. We had a great screening there with our documentary feature The Reverend. They are very communicative and there's a good vibe at the festival.

    April 2022
  • Excellent communication. Loved the interview opportunity at the end. I would definitely recommend being a part of this festival. Thanks everyone !

    November 2021