Sunderland Shorts is based in the North East of England and celebrates the finest short filmmakers from around the corner and across the globe. It was launched in 2015, in collaboration with DC Shorts and with the expert guidance of its founder, Jon Gann. The inaugural festival was supported by the Washington DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. and continues to be supported by Sunderland City Council.

Selected films from Sunderland Shorts festival will be featured in the 2018 DC Shorts Film Festival programme, exposing Sunderland's filmmakers to our sister city's audience

We'll be awarding films with Audience Favourite and Jury Favourite laurels, as well as numerous category-based awards which will be announced at a later date.

A selection of films from Sunderland Shorts 2018 will also be screened at the 2018 edition of DC Shorts in Washington DC, USA. This selection will be made by DC Shorts' Programming Team




Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival is supported and facilitated by Sunderland City Council (SCC), and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities and delivered by an informal partnership between Sunderland based film and creative sector businesses.

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

The second Sunderland Shorts: Film Festival (the SSFF) dates are still to be confirmed but we're aiming for dates in May 2018.

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 1 January 2016. Films completed prior to this date will be automatically disqualified unless they have been specifically invited by the SSFF organizing 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 20 minutes in length, including credits.

All non-English language films must have English subtitles. Non English entries submitted without subtitles will be automatically disqualified, however exceptions may be made where there is an artistic decision to use some non-English scenes without subtitles within a film. 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.

You must be over the age of 18 to enter a film to the SSFF.

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.

SSFF has no premiere status rule and accepts works that are available online.


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 01 December 2017 will not be accepted 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. Please do not send production stills.

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.

SSFF does not have a premiere requirement, but please confirm if there has been previous screenings held anywhere in the world in the relevant section on the submission form.

SSFF is not able to confirm the receipt of submissions and preview materials.


Please submit your film digitally via the website. SSFF only accept online screeners through and 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 December 2017 Please ensure any private or public Vimeo or Youtube URLs are valid, and email if you have issues with these platforms.
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 are non-negotiable and not transferable.

Deadlines for submissions to the SSFF 2018 and the appropriate fees to are as follows:

Early Bird Deadline: 01 September 2017, Fee: $20 USD

Regular Deadline: 01 November 2017, Fee: $30 USD

Late Deadline: 01 December 2017, Fee: $50 USD

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 Selection Committee and Programming Team, where appropriate and applicable, will aim to select at least 10% of all submitted films from filmmakers from the North East region.

The award categories will be announced on and on SSFF social media by 01 March 2017.

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 February 2017.

In the event that SSFF 2017 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 on the entry form no later than 01 February 2017.

Those filmmakers whose films were not selected will receive feedback comments from the SSFF Selection Committee after the SSFF 2017 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. You may also be asked to provide a DVD back up file of your successful film. Please note that DVDs and any other supporting documents provided to the SSFF will not be returned to you. The closing date for receipt of the completed acceptance pack and any supporting documents and back up DVD file (if requested), is 01 March 2017. Documents provided after this date will automatically disqualify your entry. The postmark date will be used in any matters of dispute when items are being sent through the post.

You are not entitled to recover shipping costs from SCC, it 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.

A selection of films selected for SSFF 2017 will be screened at the DC Shorts Film Festival 2017. This selection will be made by DC Shorts’ festival director. If you do not want your film to be screened at DC Shorts, please notify SSFF by email at

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.


Screenings of successful films will be held at venues across the Sunderland area including but not exclusively Sunderland Minster and Independent Music and Arts Venue
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 2017 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 by e-mail: , by mail to

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

or by telephone
+44 (0) 191 561 1124.

Overall Rating
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    Ruth Pickett

    I sadly wasn't able to make it up to the festival due to a date clash, but it seemed as though it was extremely professional and with an excellent selection of films; I was delighted that two of my shorts were chosen to screen.

    June 2017
    Response from festival:

    Hi Ruth, thank you for your post - we were sorry that you couldn't make it this time as your films were thoroughly enjoyed, but hopefully another film, another year ?! We'll give you a warm welcome. Very best wishes, Anne

  • This is a really nice, welcoming film festival. I enjoyed visiting Sunderland and I was treated very well. The festival had a diverse and fantastic set of films to watch and I loved watching my film on a big screen in front of a live audience. There was a Q&A session afterwards which was terrifying but I also loved it. It was an enjoyable experience.

    May 2017
    Response from festival:

    Thank you very much Mark, we really appreciate your comments and glad you enjoyed the festival. Your Q and A was great, you made it very easy for me as I only had to ask one question and you took it away brilliantly!
    Anne T

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    Peter Banks

    Had a great time at the festival this year. Felt very welcome as a film maker, would definitely attend again.

    May 2017
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much for your post Peter, and thank you for coming to the festival. We're so pleased you had a good time with us in Sunderland and hope we'll see you again!

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    Glen MacKay

    I've had two films screened at this festival in last three years.
    The organisers make huge effort welcoming film makers, and paying attention to the technicalities of the film's screening. A considerate, compassionate, enthusiastic encouraging environment, I thoroughly recommend.

    May 2017
    Response from festival:

    Thanks so much Glen, we do try to support our filmmakers and we hope you'll submit again in the future!

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    Aristofanis Soulikias

    A very friendly festival in a city full of potential. I saw some beautiful films and met some wonderful people. The venues were a church, a couple of cafes and a conference type room intended for a small audience. The festival was not widely publicised around the city. Better care could have been placed on some of the screenings where lighting conditions were inadequate.
    A good experience overall and given the good intentions of the organisers, I am confident it will get better next year.

    July 2016
    Response from festival:

    Hi Ari, thanks very much for your feedback! And thanks again for joining us for the festival.

    We're going to work on these issues ahead of the 2017 to make sure we don't repeat our mistakes. Really glad you enjoyed it overall, and I hope we'll see you again in future years.