SSFF is back, bringing the best short films to our audiences in the heart of the North East.


Since 2015, our 5 star rated event has delighted audiences with a variety of screenings from drama and comedy to horror and documentary. We have also proudly showcased local talent and work from young & emerging filmmakers alongside BAFTA and Academy Award nominated films.

Plus SSFF is more than just screenings, with a wide range of Q&A's with cast and crew, masterclasses, networking opportunities and industry events offered across our 6 festivals seasons so far.

“What a great festival. Encouraging, supportive and genuine. Highly recommended”
Peter Spann (Dir. Zebra)

The festival, first 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.

We hope you enjoy the show!

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

- Best Drama Award
- Best Comedy Award
- Best Documentary Award
- Best Horror Award
- Best Sci-Fi Award
- Best Art & Experimental Award
- Best Student, Young & Emerging Award
- Best Music Video
- Local Recognition Award
- Audience Favourite Award
- Judges Choice Award

This year we are also happy to offer winning films the following cash prizes, kindly provided by our friends at the University of Sunderland:

£300 - Young, Emerging & Student Award
£300 - Judges Choice Award
£300 - Audience Favourite Award

Winners will be decided upon the opinion of our audiences as well as contributions from our programming and reviewing teams. All screened films will receive a festival laurel, with honourable mentions and winning films receiving an additional corresponding category-based laurel.

“I urge every filmmaker to submit their film to Sunderland Shorts Film Festival. I know I can’t wait to be back with new material”
Stephan Pierre Mitchell (Dir. Deleted)

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.

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 film submissions which are no longer than 25 minutes long including credits that were completed after January 2019.

All music videos must be below 5 minutes in length. You must have made the video with the correct rights for all usage.

If you are under the age of 18 you will be asked for your age upon submission. If you are submitting a student project you will be asked for the name of your academic institution.

The 7th Sunderland Short Film Festival (the SSFF) will be taking place from October 19 – 22nd 2021.

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 and music videos must have been completed after 1st January 2019. 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 25 minutes in length, including credits.

Music Videos must not exceed 5 minutes in length.

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.

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, although we would ask for you to provide information of which other festivals your short has been shown at.


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 12/08/2022 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 can be considered if substantial changes have been made to the film, if you wish to submit the film under these circumstances 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 have been previous screenings held anywhere in the world in the relevant section on the submission form.


Please submit your film digitally via the website. SSFF only accept online screeners through and or the FilmFreeway platform. 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 12/08/2022.

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 listed are non-negotiable and not transferable.

The final deadline for submissions to the SSFF 2022 is 12/08/2022

There is a range of fee options (early bird, regular and final) depending upon your chosen submission date.

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 09/09/2022.

In the event that SSFF 2022 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 23/09/2022.

Those filmmakers whose films were not selected may request feedback comments from the SSFF Selection Committee and these will be provided after the SSFF 2022 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. Please note that 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 file (if requested), is 23/09/2022. 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, 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.


With the support of the venue, the 2019 festival was held entirely at the Empire Cinema, Sunderland to the delight of participating filmmakers and audiences to see the successful films shown on the big screen.

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 2022 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
  • Lone Pine Pictures

    Excellent! We really enjoyed this festival and there were a great selection of films. Honoured to receive a 'local recognition' award. Thank you so much!

    March 2022
  • Jo Lewis

    We loved being a part of this film festival. We had a wonderful screening there with our short animated film. The festival really champions new filmmakers and the festival is very friendly and the communication is really good. We would really recommend.

    November 2021
  • Very good communication from the festival side, have young, emerging and student films category. The digital platform for viewing is very well set up, and easy to navigate. Very good experience and a chance for some laurels. Thank you for accepting my film, much appreciated.

    October 2021
  • A superbly designed festival for unbelievable talent. The films are carefully selected and the team behind it all are sensational to engage with. Excellent communications and tons of support.

    October 2021
  • Heléna Antonio

    Wonderful communication and beautiful selection of projects.
    It is a huge pleasure and honour to have our film ‘2020’ at this Festival.
    Chris is really friendly and supporting with filmmakers.
    I will definitely submit my next projects.

    October 2021