Sunderland Shorts Film Festival has been dedicated to showcasing the best short films from around the world here in the North East of England since 2015.

We are proud to be a BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) Qualifying Film Festival as well as in 2023 becoming a "Top 100 Best Reviewed" event on FilmFreeway from over 13,000 festivals worldwide.

“AMAZING festival and fabulous champions of short filmmaking! Thank you for being so wonderful, for the great social media shout-outs and communication. Programming was first-class, with a truly sensational line-up of films 🙌 Highly recommend”
Annette Westood (Director - This Little Girl)

As an international film festival we're passionate about bringing new short films and music videos to audiences, showing them work from around the Globe and across the country, while championing the homegrown talent from here in the region.

Sunderland Shorts is dedicated to providing unmissable film experiences for film fans and filmmakers alike not only with dedicated screenings to a diverse range of films and genres, but with number of networking and industry events including those from leading names including BFI NETWORK - FILM HUB NORTH, BBC WRITERS ROOM & NORTH EAST SCREEN.

“LOVE this festival! Chris and his team are well organised, great to communicate with and really care about their filmmakers. Highly recommended”
Rebekah Louisa Smith (The Festival Doctor)

We welcome filmmakers from all levels of their career journeys from emerging to established talent, as we know how important providing a supportive community is in the development of creative work. It is important to us to screen work underrepresented communities while championing themes of equality, diversity and creativity.

All attending filmmakers are invited to take part in Q&A’s following every screening as well as being invited to our closing award ceremony, and all selected films will be eligible for our Awards and various prizes.

“A brilliant festival which is getting better year after year.”
Mark Kenny (Royal Television Society for The North East & The Border Regions)

All selected films will physically screen in competition and will be eligible for our awards which are decided upon by a jury of industry experts, our reviewing panel, and our festival audiences. All screened films will receive a festival laurel, with honourable mentions and winning films receiving an additional corresponding category-based laurel.

We will be awarding a variety of different winners across the film festival recognising:

- Best Comedy Award
- Best Young, Emerging and Student Award
- Best Animation Award
- Best Horror Award
- Best Drama Award
- Best Art & Experimental Award
- Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Award
- Best Music Video Award
- Best Documentary Award
- Best Debut Film
- Judges Recognition Award
- Audience Choice Award
- North East Recognition Award

“A great festival, brilliant at supporting filmmakers and really makes an effort to be inclusive in selecting films. A real pleasure to work with and to attend.”
Beacon Films


Sunderland Short Film Festival is supported and facilitated by Sunderland City Council (SCC), and delivered by an informal partnership between Sunderland based film and creative sector businesses.

As a founding member of the Association of Independent Film Festivals we pride ourselves on striving to create a fairer festival landscape and deliver an event which provides transparency, integrity and gives peace of mind to submitting filmmakers.

The Sunderland Short Film Festival champions emerging and established filmmakers, providing a platform for them to showcase their short films to local, national and international audiences.

We accept short film submissions which are no longer than 25 minutes long including credits that were completed after January 2021.

All music videos must be below 10 minutes in length. You must have made the video with the correct rights for all usage.

If you are submitting a student project you will be asked for the name of your academic institution.

The 9th Sunderland Short Film Festival (the SSFF) will be taking place in May 2024.

Please read these rules carefully before you submit your film. By submitting your film, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of the submission rules detailed in this document.


The SSFF is open to short films made anywhere in the world of all production techniques, forms, genres and budgets providing they comply with these rules, however promotional films are not eligible (for example, films promoting tourism, charitable appeals etc.).

Films must have been completed after 1st January 2021. Films completed prior to this date will be automatically disqualified unless they have been specifically invited by the SSFF organising team.

Only completed films will be considered. If you wish to submit a partially completed film, please contact the SSFF Programming Team prior to submission to discuss your entry.

Films must not exceed 25 minutes in length, including credits.

All non-English language films must have English subtitles. If you would like to submit a film with non-English scenes and no subtitles, please contact the SSFF Programming Team prior to submission to discuss your entry.

You may enter more than one film to the SSFF, however a separate entry form, film upload and additional entry fee is required for each film submitted. There is no discount for multiple films submitted.

To make a submission to the SSFF you must be authorised to submit the film for consideration including having the relevant permission(s) from a distributor or sales agent representing the film and you must have obtained the necessary permissions for the inclusion of copyrighted music and/or images within your film. By making a submission, you confirm you possess all rights necessary for the screening of the submitted film at the SSFF, including holding the relevant ownership rights and you are agreeing that the work is original. SCC, its members, employees, partners and volunteers of SSFF will not be held responsible for the authorised inclusion of any copyrighted materials contained within or in connection with the submitted film or where the appropriate rights or permissions have not been obtained. SSFF reserve the right to disqualify, without refund of the submission fee, any film with the unauthorised inclusion of copyrighted materials or incorrect rights/permissions.

All submitted film material must not defame or invade the rights of any person living or dead and you are required to keep SCC indemnified for any violations of the law in this respect.

By making a submission you consent to your film being considered for any awards that may be given at the SSFF.

We do not have a premiere status requirement. We will accept submissions of films that have previously screened elsewhere, including at other festivals. However we do ask that films are not readily available online through the duration of the festival.


SSFF only accepts digital submissions via You are able to upload your film as a digital file via a secure external link through the FilmFreeway website once your registration details have been completed. SSFF will not accept submissions via any other means.

Illegible or incomplete entry forms will not be accepted, and the submission fee will not be refunded.

Any submissions made after 27/03/2024 may not be accepted, subject to the discretion of the organisers, and the submission fee will not be refunded.

SSFF welcomes the inclusion of your Press Kit (if one is available) with your submission. If your film is successful, we will use high resolution stills from your film for promotional purposes.

Films previously submitted to SSFF will not be considered. If substantial changes have been made to the film and you wish to submit the film please contact the SSFF Programming Team prior to submission to discuss your entry.


Please submit your film digitally via the website. If you wish to use another online screener, please contact the SSFF Programming Team prior to submission to discuss your entry.

SCC, its members, employees, and volunteers of SSFF will not be held responsible for broken or incorrectly submitted URLs.

It is your responsibility to ensure there is a working online screener submitted by 01/04/2023.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the film is in full working order and submitted in the correct format. There are no refunds for entries with incorrectly formatted preview materials or non-working online screeners.


There is a submission fee to enter your film in the SSFF. Payment has to be made online using the website and you will be asked whether you wish to pay using a credit or debit card. Payment is in US dollars and therefore an exchange rate will apply at the time of the transaction.

Submission fees listed are non-negotiable and not transferable.

The final deadline for submissions to the SSFF 2023 is 27/03/2023

There is a discount for student films and festival alumni are entitled to a discount waiver.

If your film does not match the criteria contained in these rules and you proceed to submit your film, your fee will not be refunded. If you only partially complete the submission process your film will not be accepted and your fee will not be refunded. It is therefore your responsibility to check that your film matches the criteria contained in this document and you fully complete the submission process prior to payment of the fee.


All submitted films will be viewed by 3 or more members of the SSFF Reviewing and Selection Group, comprising of a volunteer group of filmmakers, film enthusiasts and critics. Where there is a dispute, final selections of all submitted films will be at the sole discretion of the SSFF Programming Team.

The SSFF Programming Team reserves the right to apply to the relevant licensing authority to classify a film that is submitted as unclassified in order to allocate it to a relevant programme strand, as appropriate. If you are asked to provide additional information to assist with the classification process you are required to respond within the timescales given, otherwise your film may be disqualified with no refund of the submission fee.


Letters of acceptance and rejection will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than 01/04/2024.

In the event that SSFF 2024 receives a high volume of high calibre films, the SSFF Programming Team may ask to hold your film in reserve with a view to screening if the opportunity arises. This request will be sent to the email address provided.

Those filmmakers whose films were not selected may request feedback comments from the SSFF Selection Committee and these will be provided after the SSFF 2023 has taken place.

If successful, you will be provided with a full acceptance pack including a legal contract which you will be required to complete and return together with any supporting documents the SSFF Programming Team request. Please ensure that you provide a digital file of your film within the size range we request. You may also be asked to provide a backup file of your successful film.
You are not entitled to recover shipping costs from SCC, its members, employees, partners or volunteers of SSFF.

You must seek the permission from the SSFF Programming Team should you wish to use any of the Selection Committee’s comments in your own publicity for your film.

All selected films may be stored in the festival archive and used for internal research purposes. The SSFF will not publicly screen or publish online a film for which permission has not previously been granted.

All communications from the SSFF will be sent to you by e-mail. It is your responsibility to ensure the contact email address used in your application form is accurate and you keep the SSFF Programming Team advised of any changes. It is your responsibility to check your e-mails, including junk and spam folders, for communication from the SSFF. SCC, its members, employees, partners and volunteers of the SSFF will not be held responsible for any late actions by yourself because of a failure to check e-mails being received.

SCC, its members, employees, partners and volunteers of the SSFF will not be held liable for e-mails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, outdated e-mail addresses or any other technical or human error.


Our previous instalment of the festival was a packed line-up with 6 days of events across 4 city centre venues, where we were able to share over 130 short films & music videos across 15 screenings! We also hosted a number of networking and industry events, plus Q&A's to our biggest audiences yet! It was a genuine pleasure to welcome you all to celebrate cinema here in the North East.

If successful you will be notified of the screenings of your film as part of your acceptance pack and you are entitled to attend the screenings free of charge. All films selected will be made available for public viewing. There may also be private screenings to accredited guests. The SSFF Programming Team reserves the right to show each film at a time, date and venue of their choosing.

The SSFF Programming Team reserves the right to place films into relevant programme strands as they see fit.

No rental or other fees will be paid for the screening of your film at the SSFF.

No travel, accommodation or other expenses will be paid should you wish to attend the screening of your film at the SSFF.


At the point of payment on your submission you will be asked if you have read and agreed with the SSFF Rules and Regulations. By agreeing to proceed with your submission you are agreeing to the rules contained in this document. In the event of disagreement concerning the interpretation of the rules, the SSFF Programming Team’s interpretation will take precedence.

These rules shall be governed by construed and enforced in accordance with English law and shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

By submitting your film to the SSFF you agree to grant SSFF the non-exclusive right to utilise your publicity materials related to the production (e.g. press kits, posters, stills, etc.) for promotional purposes and to broadcast or screen your film for the purposes of promoting the SSFF in 2024 and future years.

SCC, its members, employees, partners and volunteers of the SSFF will not be held responsible for lost, misplaced, delayed, damaged or otherwise undelivered films, media, forms or payments.

SCC, its members, employees and volunteers of the SSFF will not be held liable for any claims, demands, damages, judgement, liabilities, expenses arising out of or in connection with any and all claims by you or third parties based on films submitted to or screened by the SSFF.

Failure to comply with these rules may result in your submission being disqualified.

Sunderland Shorts reserves the right to remove a film from the festival program for any reason or for no reason and shall not be liable for any refund or claims of any kind arising out of such removal.

These rules are subject to change without prior notice.


Current UK law allows people to access information that is held by public authorities: Sunderland City Council is a public authority for the purposes of Data Protection, Freedom of Information and Environmental Information legislation. As such, information held by the Council in connection with the SSFF may fall within the scope of this legislation. The following general principles would apply to such requests:

Freedom of Information and Environmental Information legislation: Anyone, anywhere can ask for access to information held by the Council. However, exemptions are found within both pieces of legislation that protect personal data, copyright materials and artistic / journalistic / literary materials from general disclosure. In practice, this means that information about how SSFF is run might be subject to disclosure – particularly if it involves the use of public funds – but information comprising details of entrants and their materials (films, scripts, associated intellectual property etc) would be protected.

Data Protection Act: Any individual can ask to access information held about themselves by the Council. There are exemptions to this access right, but it is not anticipated that SSFF / the Council will be processing personal data other than to manage and process entries though the course of the festival.”


For all enquiries please contact the SSFF Programming Team:


Address: Sunderland Shorts Film Festival
c/o Sunderland City Council
Sunderland Software Centre
Tavistock Place

Overall Rating
  • esme allen

    Josie and I were so delighted to be part of this year's film festival. It's such a supportive and communicative team with an amazing programme of films- we'd definitely recommend submitting your film to this festival!

    May 2024
  • Craig Crouchman

    An amazing festival, it's always a nice time to see Sunderland Shorts coming up on the calendar! The standard of films is so high and it's been a pleasure to be included alongside them - and to see them played next to each other. Chris and the team, thank you for all the effort put in to making this an amazing festival, cheers for picking 'The Last Meal' for 2024!

    May 2024
  • Miriam Fox

    Thank you so much for screening Dead Silent as part of your 2024 program. The organisers really kindly contacted me to ask if I would be interested in re-submitting the film after it couldn't be fitted into the 2023 edition, which felt really considerate and a very kind acknowledgement.
    Really good communication and offers for accommodation too. They were going the extra mile. Thank you SSFF!

    May 2024
  • Richard Fenwick

    It was great to be selected for Sunderland with our short film, SOULMATE. This festival is so well organised and run by Chris and his team, and they REALLY care about bringing the best films to the NE (of England).

    This was a homecoming festival for me and even though i couldn't make it in person i had family and friends there who had the opportunity to see my film on a big screen for the first time 🙏🏻 i love how well this festival is doing, too. Approaching its 10th year and BIFA qualifying it really is a jewel in the film calendar for North East filmmaking.

    May 2024
  • Joseph Archer

    SSFF is an incredible film festival. Chris and the team put an extreme amount of effort into the events and the promotion of the festival, allowing filmmakers to truly have their work showcased and celebrated. The programme was varied and brave, with selecting films that had unique and daring stories, something you rarely get with festivals, which too often select "safe bets" and established filmmakers. It was an honour for our work to be part of the festival and we hope to be part of the festival in the future!

    May 2024