"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

The Sound Unseen Film + Music Festival started in 1999 as a unique, cutting edge “films-on-music” festival in Minneapolis / St. Paul, MN. In the two plus decades since then, Sound Unseen has firmly entrenched itself as one of the premier niche festivals in the country, and more importantly as an important and vital part of the regional and national cultural scene. Now celebrating its 25th year, the festival has expanded to include year-round programming and special presentations including world and regional premieres of films such as All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Finding Her Beat, Dig!, Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL, Born Innocent: The Redd Kross Story, Mavis!, The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead, All I Can Say, Sound of Metal, Zappa, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?, and Meet Me In The Bathroom. In addition to film screenings the festival has also welcomed a diverse range of special guests including directors like Penelope Speeeris (Wayne’s World) and Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko), musicians such as John Doe (X), Eugene Hutz (Gogol Bordello), and Neko Case, and too many producers, subjects, and actors to count.

In 2020, Sound Unseen began offering a version of the festival in Austin, TX and has grown its presence there in both attendance and screenings each year since. In 2023 they expanded again, this time to Rochester, MN, which cemented its status as one of the few festivals that can stake its claim over three cities in two states. While bringing the best in new documentaries, short films, and music videos, Sound Unseen also showcases anniversary screenings, rare concert footage, interactive panels, and live music events. As part of its year-round presence, they offer a successful monthly screening series in Minneapolis and special events throughout MN and Austin, TX.

What began as an underground film festival with only a handful of attendees has now become a well known and respected brand with thousands of loyal followers who continue to support Sound Unseen’s dedication to providing an exciting, unexpected, and consistent array of music, film, and art.

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

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. Films in competition must not have U.S. distribution at the time of being accepted as the winning film has the opportunity with signing a U.S. distribution deal.

1. Films must be Minnesota, Midwest, US, North American, and/or World premieres to screen at Sound Unseen (theatrical and/or streaming).
2. Sound Unseen also has a festival in Austin, TX, so selected films will also have the opportunity to screen in Austin provided they have not screened in Austin and/or Texas prior to 2024 festival dates.
3. Films must be at least MN premieres to be considered and eligible to be accepted into "Competition"
4. Films that have been previously submitted to Sound Unseen are not eligible.
5. Films must have been completed on or after December 1, 2022.
6. Except in rare circumstances, films in theatrical/virtual cinema release in Minnesota and/or Texas prior to, or at the time of the festival are not eligible.
7. Film screeners must be submitted via private video screener link with password.
8. 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.
9. Entrant will allow usage of clips from the film for promotional use on television, radio, in print, and at live Festival events.
10. All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Non-English entries submitted without subtitles are not eligible.
11. Student film entries must include proof of student status at the time of production (i.e., copy of student ID, transcript, etc.
12. Any film submitted through FilmFreeway or that receives a fee waiver will not be allowed to request a guaranteed screening or rental fee.
13. We strongly encourage all submissions to have closed captions available for their film at the time of the festival in November.

Overall Rating
  • We (K and Karen, co-creators) were excited and honored that our music video "They Don't Make 'Em Like Willie Anymore" was selected for Sound Unseen.
    Richard Gill, the director for this festival, had excellent communication with us. He provided detailed instructions on how to format our film to show at the venue and was prompt with his replies.
    We made plans for Karen to fly to Minnesota and attend Sound Unseen while I attended a regional festival in Texas. When Karen came down with a lingering illness, it was apparent that a solo trip to Minnesota was off the table. We were disappointed to have to cancel her flight and hotel reservation because we've heard so many good things about Sound Unseen and she was looking forward to representing us there.
    When we informed Richard that Karen wouldn't be able to attend the festival after all, he was understanding and gracious. We always appreciate interacting with people having Richard Gill's professionalism.
    Sound Unseen has the good reputation of a well-run event and we look hope to participate in person in the future.

    December 2023
  • 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