The Maryland Film Festival is an annual five-day event that takes place in beautiful downtown Baltimore each Spring, presenting top-notch film and video work from all over the world. We are currently planning the 2021 edition of MdFF as a hybrid festival featuring in-person and virtual events as public health guidelines around COVID-19 allow. We are building contingency plans to adapt in-person festival offerings as the situation develops and will keep accepted filmmakers updated on changes as they happen.

Each year the festival screens approximately 30 feature films and 80 short films of all varieties—narrative, documentary, animation, experimental, and hybrid—to tens of thousands of audience members. For every North American feature film screened within the festival, a filmmaker attends the festival to present their work. The festival prides itself on creating a unique, accessible, and competition-free atmosphere. Each year since 2004, the festival has dedicated its opening night to a collection of short films.

The hundreds of filmmakers who have hosted screenings with Maryland Film Festival include such names as John Waters, Barry Levinson, David Simon, Kathryn Bigelow, Elissa Blount Moorhead, Jonathan Demme, Melvin Van Peebles, Alex Gibney, Stanely Nelson, Matt Porterfield, Joe Swanberg, Maori Holmes, Amy Seimetz, Lisandro Alonso, Todd Solondz, Barry Jenkins, Greta Gerwig, Bobcat Goldthwait, Alex Ross Perry, Riley Stearns, Julius Onah, and Lena Dunham.

In addition to a wide range of contemporary North American films, each festival also includes a sampling of cutting-edge international features (including such titles as Dogtooth, Post Tenebras Lux, Caniba, The Human Surge, and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives) and a feature selected and hosted by legendary filmmaker John Waters (whose choices have ranged from Joseph Losey's Boom! to Gaspar Noé's I Stand Alone). Celebrity guest hosts from outside the world of film are also invited to present favorite films, including musicians such as Ian MacKaye, Branford Marsalis, Will Oldham, Jonathan Richman, Marin Alsop, Harry Belafonte, Dan Deacon, Bill Callahan, Abdu Ali, Beach House and members of Animal Collective.

The Maryland Film Festival has been named one of MovieMaker Magazine's "25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World" four times in recent years (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019), as well as earning repeated praise from national publications such as The New Yorker, and ArtForum.

In the interest of providing a relaxed, non-competition atmosphere for filmmakers and filmgoers to enjoy and engage with each other and the work, MdFF forgoes prizes and awards.

The 23rd annual Maryland Film Festival (May 2021) in Baltimore, Maryland is looking for all types of film and video work of exceptional quality: feature length and shorts; narratives and documentaries; domestic and foreign; genre work and the unclassifiable; and while we are a general-interest festival, we do frequently program animation, experimental, and underground content. Unique voices and viewpoints are always a plus.

We are actively working to increase the number of foreign titles we screen; filmmakers from all over the world are encouraged to submit their work.

We encourage filmmakers that hope to premiere their work at prominent early 2021 festivals such as Sundance and SXSW to submit these films to us; however, please do be aware of and submit by our final deadline of January 11, 2021.

Please note that the Maryland Film Festival programs work from all over the world—we do NOT solely or even primarily program films made in or about Maryland. That said, we do encourage local filmmakers to enter, and program multiple made-in-Maryland titles each year.

Stronger consideration is given to films that have NOT had significant prior exposure in the Baltimore market; prior screening(s) in the Baltimore area may be grounds for rejection, as may certain forms of television, cable, home-video, internet, and/or VOD availability prior to the festival. This is a particular concern for feature-length work.

For feature films (40 minutes or longer) please note that it is understood that if accepted, the director will be able to attend the festival (May 2021) either in-person or virtually to host their film's screenings based on the safety of travel due to the corona virus. The Maryland Film Festival will be able to help defray the costs of travel and lodging.

Browse our festival archives at or read more about our festival on Wikipedia to get a better idea of the varieties of films and videos we program.

The Maryland Film Festival is a non-competition festival.

The Maryland Film Festival will not return entries or refund entry fees.

Please do not send us press kits or promotional materials unless requested. When submitting via online screener, please be certain to submit a Vimeo link and password that will remain active and unchanged through April 2021. Failure to submit a link that our screening committee can access throughout our screening process may be grounds for rejection.


By submitting a film the entrant guarantees that they have obtained all appropriate rights and clearances, and that they have legal right to both enter their film and, if selected, screen it publicly within The Maryland Film Festival.

Overall Rating
  • Tristan Scott

    a really top festival experience. if you get in i highly suggest attending. it has given me my strongest relationships with other filmmakers.

    December 2020
  • Sinah Ober

    MDFF is a wonderful festival, and the online edition in 2020 was a great success.

    September 2020
  • The communication was amazing, thanks for pulling such an effort during these times! And an amazing selection!

    July 2020
  • Jaime Levinas

    A home for quality and the expansion of cinema possibilities. A true gem inside American festivals.

    July 2020
  • Audrey Fox

    Amazing selection of nuanced films!

    July 2020