We are ON for 2021! We're going to keep it virtual for 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, much as we did in 2020, but we'll curate the festival with a slate of high-caliber independent films just as we always do and again make them available FOR FREE to online festival-goers. Honoring filmmakers is our highest priority, and we will continue to record INDIVIDUAL Zoom Q&As for EVERY film selected! We remain committed to supporting independent filmmakers and getting their work out there. If things change drastically for the better in 2021, we may consider an in-person event or two in September, but at this time we'll heartily commit to the online experience and hope for the best.

With all that in mind, we look forward to seeing your great films and will do everything to make the festival an enjoyable experience for filmmakers and film enthusiasts (and film festival producers) alike!

The South Dakota Film Festival (running online September 16-25, 2021) is a fantastic festival offering a filmmaker-friendly environment with a casual vibe. We are always looking for great movies to show at our festival and would love to check out your film.

Our little festival has been host to some big Hollywood names: Oscar Winner Kevin Costner ("Dances with Wolves"), Oscar Nominated Graham Greene ("Thunderheart," "Dances with Wolves"), Oscar Nominated Cinematographer Adam Greenberg ("Terminator 2"), along with actors such as Molly Ringwald ("Sixteen Candles"), Cary Elwes ("The Princess Bride"), Doug Jones ("Hellboy"), Anthony Michael Hall ("Breakfast Club"), Stephen Tobolowsky ("Groundhog Day"), Lisa Ann Walter ("The Parent Trap"), and Producer Hawk Koch ("Chinatown").

The South Dakota Film Festival is the premier film festival in South Dakota and the region, located in Aberdeen, South Dakota, with jet service twice daily to and from Minneapolis or a scenic drive from anywhere. Come for the films and stay for the after parties.

The SDFF has hosted premiere screenings for dozens of films including a regional premiere for "Into the Wild." Films that have shown at SDFF have gone on to national critical acclaim, including the Oscar Nominated Short Films "Miracle Fish" and "Weekends."

While the festival emphasizes films from the Great Plains, that is not the only focus. The goal of the South Dakota Film Festival is to screen the best films submitted regardless of their geographic origin.

The South Dakota Film Festival gives awards in all categories each year—including jury awards. Some examples are Best Comedy Short, Best Cinematography, Best Regional Film, among many others.

For 2021 selected films, filmmakers agree to their films being screened online for the duration of the festival (September 16-25).

Films must be submitted electronically via a link to a site such as Vimeo or the filmmaker's provided URL. No physical media, including DVD and Blu-ray, will be accepted as submission copies. If the filmmaker's work is selected, an approved exhibition copy must be provided.

By submitting an entry or entries, you agree to the Official Entry Rules and acknowledge that the decisions of the adjudicators shall be binding and final.

To Enter: All entries in the "shorts" category can be a maximum length of forty (40) minutes to qualify. Entries submitted to the "features" category will be at least forty-one (41) minutes in length. Upon becoming an "Official Selection," promotional material will be requested—including, but not limited to trailers, press kit, photos, personal bios, bonus material—for promotional use on our website. Any entry in a foreign language must be dubbed or subtitled in English. Each entry must also be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee in US dollars.

The South Dakota Film Festival, its affiliates, employees, officers, directors, licensees, and assignees will not be responsible for late, lost, incomplete, illegible, damaged, garbled, technically corrupt, postage-due, or misdirected entries.

Eligibility: The Competition is open to individuals who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, or, if under the age of eighteen (18), entries must be accompanied by written parental consent. The South Dakota Film Festival reserves the right to verify and confirm such consent and disqualify any entrant under eighteen (18) without valid consent.

By entering this Competition all entrants grant to the South Dakota Film Festival the unrestricted right to use their respective names, photographs, likenesses, voices, and/or biographical information for South Dakota Film Festival programming, publication, publicity, advertising, and all other promotional purposes without compensation, review, or approval unless prohibited by law. All federal, state, local, and international laws and regulations apply.

Additional Entry Regulations: Each entrant represents and warrants to the South Dakota Film Festival that his or her entry is (i) completely the original work of the entrant(s), (ii) not copied from any other source or currently contracted or distributed, disseminated in any media or format (except for previous broadcast on campus television or limited Internet broadcast on a website controlled and maintained solely by the entrant), (iii) not in the public domain, and (iv) not in violation of or conflict with the trademark, copyright, rights of privacy, rights of publicity or any other rights, of any kind or nature, of any other person or entity. If the South Dakota Film Festival, in its sole discretion, has reason to believe that any entry contains any material that may infringe or violate any law or any rights of a third party, South Dakota Film Festival may immediately disqualify such entry and take all other measures South Dakota Film Festival may deem appropriate. Entries that contain any content determined by South Dakota Film Festival in its sole discretion as indecent, inappropriate, morally objectionable, or otherwise unfit for dissemination or broadcast will be immediately disqualified. Entries not meeting stated running time requirements will be disqualified. Entries not satisfying these Official Entry Rules in any respect will be disqualified. Each entrant further agrees to sign and to obtain (at the entrant's expense) from all necessary third parties, all releases, permissions and other written documents, in a form acceptable to South Dakota Film Festival, as may be required by the South Dakota Film Festival and any of its affiliates or sponsors upon request so as to confirm, record, and/or protect their rights in the entry. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, each entrant acknowledges and agrees that upon the South Dakota Film Festival's request, he or she shall provide to the South Dakota Film Festival all necessary written releases and permissions pertaining to on-camera talent, writers, composers, and any other third parties providing any services or materials in connection with such entrant's entry to the Competition.

Each entrant further acknowledges that the South Dakota Film Festival and its affiliates, employees, officers, directors, licensees, assigns, and sponsors (collectively the "Designated Entities") may engage and have engaged in extensive activities in connection with developing, writing, acquiring, publishing, disseminating and broadcasting literary, artistic, and other material, including stories, ideas, themes, plots, titles, screenplays, teleplays, treatments, formats, and concepts (collectively, the "Materials"). In submitting an entry to South Dakota Film Festival, each entrant acknowledges and understands that any materials that the Designated Entities may hereinafter use or exploit may have originated with the Designated Entities themselves or may have been acquired from the Designated Entities' employees or other parties, and that such Materials may duplicate, parallel or resemble the entrant's entry to the Competition.

By submitting an entry, entrants acknowledge that they understand and agree that the Designated Entities' use of Materials containing features and elements similar to or identical with those contained in their entry shall not entitle the entrant to any compensation whatsoever. As an inducement to South Dakota Film Festival to accept the entrant's entry into the Competition, each entrant hereby waives any claim or right of action against any of the Designated Entities or their successors in connection with the Designated Entities' use of any Materials (or any portions thereof) whether or not such Materials contain any features or elements similar or identical to those contained in an entrant's entry.

Judging: The official judging panel, consisting of individuals selected by the South Dakota Film Festival, at its sole discretion, will make a number of official selections (the "Official Selections") from all eligible entries received. From these official selections, winner(s) may be selected and announced at an awards ceremony (or online). The judging may be based on the following criteria: (i) originality and creativity; (ii) overall quality of all elements and aspects of the production of each entry, including, without limitation, writing, acting, directing, editing, etc.; and (iii) adherence to and appropriateness for a particular format or type of program. An interview with the entrant, conducted at the sole discretion of the judges, may also be required prior to the judges' decision. The judging will be conducted in mid-July. At that time, the selected entrants may be required to submit requested information, including but not limited to additional releases and permissions from necessary parties, to assist in the judges' due diligence research. The selected entrants will be notified by telephone and/or e-mail. South Dakota Film Festival shall not be responsible in any way for any missed, lost, or misdirected notification or an entrant's failure to receive a communication from South Dakota Film Festival.

Award Categories: The South Dakota Film Festival reserves the right to award a number of competitive prizes and/or awards, in categories selected by the South Dakota Film Festival in its sole discretion, as it may deem appropriate.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • John Budge

    Thanks so much to Diane, Tom and the whole SDFF crew who made it happen in 2020! Though I would have preferred to be there in person, the virtual platform was a great way to share our film with a wider audience and tell the story of how it came to be during the recorded Q&A. Hoping to be there in person for future festivals!

    October 2020
  • Maria De la Ossa

    Just simply amazing!! Welcoming and friendly and just overall wonderful people who appreciate the film makers journey.

    October 2020
  • South Dakota Film Festival was a magical experience for us even from afar. The facilitators ran a tight ship and were also suuuuupper nice and cool.

    The quality of films that we saw were just excellent. Quite the variety and not a bad one in the lot.

    Our biggest regret was not being able to attend in person because of the pander. Nobody could, but they did a great job making the virtual experience and interaction as wonderful as they possibly could. Attending in person would’ve rocked, though, as the pictures of the festival in past years looks amazing!

    KILL AL was so honoured to receive Best Sci-Fi. Means a lot coming from this festival.

    I def want to screen more films at this festival

    Highly recommended!

    October 2020
  • Eddie Shieh

    Warm local festival that under very extraordinary circumstances made a big impact. Diane and the festival team did a great job online with their Q&A's and screenings regardless of a pandemic. We hope to back again to experience their hospitality in person. Thanks again,

    October 2020
  • Tyson Breuer

    Diane and Tom are wonderful people. It was a joy to chat with them via Zoom for the Q&A and it really made it feel less like the festival had been disrupted due to COVID. This is the 2nd time I have had a film screen at SDFF and both times have been a pleasure. It's such a wonderful festival and Diane and Tom have made it feel like a welcome home to independent filmmakers. I can't wait to share future creative projects with them!

    October 2020