On June 7th, 2011, the first biennial Chocolate City Short Film Festival debuted in Burlington, WI. Burlington is known as "Chocolate City USA" and has strong connections to the Nestle company (Hosting the huge "ChocolateFest" three day festival over labor day weekend). This short film festival was dedicated to showing short films from amateurs (students elementary through high school) as well as adult professionals. The event is held in downtown Burlington at the historic Plaza Theater. It is the intention of The Chocolate Short Film Festival to take place every odd year in the week following ChocolateFest.

On June 2nd, 2013, the second ever Chocolate City Short Film Festival was held again at the Plaza Theater in downtown Burlington, WI. The response was even greater with a full house and many other firsts. Local celebrities (Miss Burlington Ashely Monti) and national celebrities (Ron Kohlman, filmmaker and former producer of the number hit show ER) were in attendance.

One June 7th 2015, four years to the day the first festival began, The Chocolate City Short Film Festival went world wide. Almost two thousand entries from over 80 countries poured in, bringing the festival to a whole new level. It was only fitting that the festival rename itself as the Chocolate City INTERNATIONAL Short Film Festival. A whole new chapter had begun.

On June 4th, 2017, the fourth ever biennial festival was held. OVER 3,000 submissions from all over the world were submitted. Filmmakers from 9 to 79 submitted their works and the proud tradition continued. Local celebrity and filmmaker BJ Rayni was on hand to present awards. In addition trailers of independent filmmakers kicked off the fest.

In the spirit of community service, the Chocolate City Short Film Festival is free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring a food item for the local food pantry or a small monetary donation.

The fifth biennial Chocolate City International Short Film Festival was held on Sunday June 2, 2019. Local celebrity and filmmaker BJ Rayni was on hand to present awards. The films included submissions from filmmakers ages 8 to 80 from a variety of different countries. The results of that 2019 festival is as follows:

Young Filmmaker Award
3rd Place- Team Yum Yum- Abby Nie (Wisconsin)
2nd Place Emoji Kids- Allyson Siepl, Peyton Kaminski, &
Athena Grimes (Wisconsin)
1st Place- My Red Ball- Esabella Strickland (British Columbia)

Student PSAs / Commercials
3rd Place- Words Hurt Cyberbullying- Ridho Mapp (California)
2nd Place- Don't Stare, Be Aware- Charles Baumeister (Wisconsin)
1st Place- Disability- David Stang, Jacob Smith (Wisconsin)

Music Videos
3rd Place- Way it Goes- Megan Hurst (Wisconsin)
2nd Place- Immortal- Dom Mann (Illinois)
1st Place- Fire- Nathan Kadota (California)

Animated Films (Adult & Students)
3rd Place- Evil Villain!- Lee Witz (California)
2nd Place- Take Back Calamity Canyon- Taylor Torres (Wisconsin)
1st Place- Knitcromancer- Rebecca Seamans (Pennsylvania)

Student Documentaries
3rd Place- Cultural Foods- Chase Ketterhagen (Wisconsin)
2nd Place- The American Dream- Andrea Gomez (Wisconsin)
1st Place- A Prom Story: Dramatized Documentary- Students of Bill Wald (Wisconsin)

Student Fictional Films
3rd Place- Blue Wave- Emma Gillian (Florida)
2nd Place- Santa Woman- Ari Williams (New York)
1st Place- Not So Scary Story- Nick Sherman (California)

Open Genre (Adult- U.S.)
3rd Place- Average Mom- Cathy Yonek (California)
2nd Place- Origami Bull- Summer Medina (California)
1st Place- Don't Save Me- Tee Forest (Maryland)

International Film (Non-U.S.)
3rd Place- First Day in Paris- Zaur Dzhafarov (France)
2nd Place- He Can- Rupnar Dutta (India)
1st Place- Let Me Breath With My Dream- Novera Hasan Nikkon (Bangladesh)

The sixth biennial Chocolate City International Short Film Festival was going to be held June 2021 but was canceled due to the global pandemic. After a brief restructuring, we are happy to announce that that sixth ever Chocolate City International Short Film Festival will be back May 19, 2024 (thirteen years since it all began back in 2011). It will be held at the Plaza Theater in downtown Burlington, Wisconsin, USA from 3-5pm . We look forward to continuing the tradition.

Over $1000 in Prizes

Proposed Categories:

Young Filmmaker (Elementary/Middle- All Genres), (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize)

Student PSAs/Commercials (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 30-60 secs

Student Music Videos (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-3 minutes

Student Animation (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-10 minutes

Student Documentaries (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-10 minutes

Student Dramas and/or Trailers (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-10 min

Adult Community/Open Genre (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-10 min

International Film (3rd, 2nd, Grand Prize), Suggested RT: 1-10 min

(Proposed value of prizes is as follows: 3rd $25, 2nd $50, GP $100)

Submission Guidelines:
1. All filmmakers may submit any film they have not previously submitted to the Chocolate City International Short Film Festival. (Multiple categories per filmmaker are okay for submission, but only one category per filmmaker is eligible for the final screening.)

2. All filmmakers must submit films their films on DVD or via the FilmFreeway website with submission forms (If this is a problem please contact mnie@basd.k12.wi.us, special arrangements to submit via Youtube or Google Drive may be possible in rare circumstances). Please see side bar on Website for form.

3. All submission must be submitted between January 1st and May 3rd of the competition year (delivered to CCISFF, c/o Matt Nie , 400 McCanna Parkway, Burlington, WI, 53105) or submitted online via FilmFreeway

4. Films will be judged on merit by a variety of judges (If you have interest in being a judge, please contact mnie@basd.k12.wi.us)

5. Prizes will be provided by area donations and are subject to change Prizes will be awarded to the director (who can distribute it as he/she wishes).

6. Note that only the top three finalists in each category will be screened at the film festival. In addition more than three finalist may be screen in each category if submissions are many. Finalists not in the top three spots will not receive any cash prize or formal award, but they will have the honor of being screened.

7. Finalists will be notified before the festival begin at least a week before if not sooner.

8. All music and images used must be copyright free in films (or it is assumed the filmmaker has obtained the legal written permission for copyright music).

9. All filmmakers are encouraged to bring friends and family. Admission to the Chocolate City International Film Festival is open to all and is FREE, but donations of canned goods or money donations are encouraged. (All collected items will go to aid the local food pantry and living assistance.)

For more information or forms contact the festival director, Matt Nie, at mnie@basd.k12.wi.us

Overall Rating
  • I found in the website that my film won the 1st Prize in International Section .,But the festival authority have not yet contact with me til June 23 2019.This is really a disappointment for me being a student film-maker of bangladesh .

    June 2019
  • Loved it !!! Cannot wait til next year

    June 2019

    It was a pleasure to have my film screen at the Chocolate City International Short Film Festival. Also I haven't had the chance to go, the staff has been very available and nice via email. An awesome experience.

    June 2017
  • Originally I gave this festival a positive rating, but after several inquires about audio issues on their website with my video (the only one btw) and not receiving any notice about the award for winning second place I am changing my review. My film has gone on to win three other festivals which I received the awards in a timely manner. If the prize monies are a donation and they can't afford to pay it, they should at least contact the film maker notifying them. Totally disappointed with this festival and would not waste my time entering another one.

    June 2017
    Film reel
    Response from festival:

    Terry is a talented emerging documentarian with a powerful social message. The film festival was delighted to showcase his work and pleased other film festivals saw his talent. His third place award was mailed to the Ottawa address and the issue was believed to be resolved. If he still wishes to receive his cash award, another will be mailed if he contacts the festival director. Apologies that the audio issue could not be resolved on the website, but it played without issue at the film festival. He was awarded third place in a tough category. It was incorrectly listed on facebook as second. This film festival is a biennial event and occurs every other year. If you wish to see Terry's Award Winning Film you can view it on youtube here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uByzYS66ebY&t=1s