The SouthSide Film Institute (SSFI) is a volunteer-run grass-roots organization based in the strong arts and business community of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that presents the annual SouthSide Film Festival each June.

Each year, the festival features:
1) Invitational and Jury Selection films of all lengths, genres, years of production, budget, student and professional films. Please note that we do *not* have any restrictions on production dates for our film selection process! All we look for is storytelling.

2) No Competition! Our atmosphere is relaxed and conducive to filmmakers enjoying their works being presented professionally. Our only competition is that we are only able to select a very low percentage of films submitted and we do an audience award on the last evening of the festival. Our jury does not award films!

The Institute was officially incorporated as a Pennsylvania non-profit in December, 2003. The SouthSide Film Festival premiered in June 2004, with great feedback from filmmakers, continuing to score 'A's and 'A+'s with our artists on our feedback surveys.

Our Jury consists of an average of individuals of various backgrounds - from one or two who have worked on films, to film buffs to people who only know whether they liked it or not. The Jury is comprised of a people of hugely varying backgrounds, from a deli owner to a librarian to a medical professional... (to give an idea) - each with their own opinions and ideology. It is more important for the Jury to reflect the greater film-going community since this is who filmmakers wish to gain access to. Each film is seen in its entirety by no fewer than two Jurors and previewed by all Jurors, debated, ranked, debated, and debated some more. Star power, budget, packaging/marketing, and being a local production bear absolutely NO weight in our selection process. All filmmakers are treated on an equal basis and no exceptions are made in our selection process.

Each Juror's vote bears the same weight, and if any juror has any doubt to a decision of "accept" or "reject" the film immediately is classified as "on the fence" and will remain there the for a good part of the selection process until it has its chance to be properly viewed in a different light. Many films that have been gems at past festivals had found themselves "on the fence" until later in the jury process we reviewed it and asked ourselves... "How did we not see this film's brilliance last month?"... the moral of this story is that each film has its fair day in court, and we take our duty seriously in reviewing films thoroughly.

Our Festival is run by a volunteer group of filmmakers, educators and business owners all dedicated to promoting independent films, while helping to create a community of enthusiasts for the art of independent filmmaking.

Linny and Beall Fowler Audience Award

Accepted films must provide us, no later than May 18, the following digital files on disc, weblink or via email:

Text (100 words or less)
1) Director's bio
2) Synopsis

Photos (JPEG/TIFF/PSD - print quality)
1) Director (headshot)
2) Film Still
3) Poster Still (optional)

Overall Rating
  • This was a wonderful festival! The venue was fantastic, and really well attended. The festival took great care of us, communication was excellent. The film audience was extremely engaged, and asked amazing questions in the Q&A. This was a wonderful event and I really recommend it to other filmmakers!

    June 2022
  • Generous hosts, smartly curated films, great venues, engaged audiences, vibrant local scene in a historic town—can't wait to go back!

    June 2022
  • Eric Schleyer

    Southside Film Festival was an amazingly warm, encouraging and community-driven. Our documentary Beer Boom was screened there and we had an absolutely wonderful time at this festival.

    August 2021
  • AJ Wilhelm

    I have been lucky to screen three films at Southside and the festival has really become to feel like a home. I hope to have something ready for the next fest...

    June 2021
  • David Pierce

    Great festival. The team is very well organized and supportive of the filmmakers. Great communication throughout.

    June 2021