The SouthSide Film Institute (SSFI) is a 100% volunteer-run grassroots organization based in the colorful 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 health care 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 Jurors' 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 - voted on by patrons during the festival and announced at our closing night party. No monetary value, just bragging rights!

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
  • Katharine Parsons

    We had a wonderful time at the Southside Film Festival! The organizers managed to blend top-notch communication and organization with warmth and we were made to feel so welcome. As an added bonus, they subsidized our stay so that we could stay longer, and take advantage of all the great films that they programmed. Attendance was good in all of the venues which showed that they really put in effort to draw audiences in after the long drought of the pandemic, and the theatres were all within walking distance so we had an opportunity to stroll in a great little town. Highly recommend for filmmakers to submit to this festival!— Katharine Parsons, Director THE FIRE CATS—Save Something Small. Winner of Southside’s Linny and Beall Fowler Audience Award.

    July 2023
  • Rylee Jean Ebsen

    So great! Thanks for having me!!

    June 2023
  • We loved attending SouthSide Film Festival as filmmaker+spouse! The festival organizers were kind and generous, and they welcomed my husband and I heartily. The screening venues were top-notch, and there were ample opportunities to gather with fellow filmmakers and members of the arts community. We hope to be invited back to SouthSide someday! Thank you to everyone at the festival for all the care you put into making it an awesome experience! -Anne Beal, director, 'Sixteen Kings' Daughters'

    June 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for coming! - JC

  • 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