Nestled in the heart of farming country in North Central Oklahoma is the small town of Tonkawa. First settled by the Tonkawa Indian tribe in 1884 at a time when numerous tribes from across the country were being sent to what at the time was Indian Territory. Oklahoma later became a state in 1907. In 1921 oil was found in an area just south of Tonkawa later named ‘Three Sands’, making millionaires overnight as it became one of the largest oil fields in the world at the time.

Today, Tonkawa is home to just over 3,000 citizens, as well as Northern Oklahoma College which was established in 1901. With state of the art facilities, it provides the screening experience filmmakers and film lovers deserve.

The history of film is long in Oklahoma dating back to when Thomas Edison sent a film crew in 1904 to the 101 Ranch just South West of Tonkawa to film westerns. That tradition has continued for the past century with such notable films as The Grapes of Wrath, The Outsiders, Rain Man, August: Osage County, Twister, and most recently the indie hits American Honey and Wildlife starring Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce and the citizens of Tonkawa are excited to welcome filmmakers from around the world to screen their films at the beautiful 200 seat theater in Wilkin Hall located on the Northern Oklahoma College campus. Filmmakers will be treated to a true small town experience as they are celebrated in a film festival themed parade through downtown Tonkawa, as well as unique experiences from the moment they arrive until they head back home with stories to tell.

OKLAHOMA FILMMAKERS: If you are a resident of Oklahoma, email a copy of your license showing Oklahoma residency to and we'll send you a code for $5 OFF your entry fee.

We look forward to meeting you and celebrating you and your films!

Awards in the form of trophies will be given in each category. As well as a Best of Fest award of $500.

-- Competition is open to entries from around the globe. Please check individual categories for additional requirements.

-- Short films are under 20 minutes in length.

-- Films not in the English language must be subtitled in English.

-- You may submit multiple entries but must fill out a separate entry form and pay an entry fee for each.

-- OKLAHOMA FILMMAKERS: If you are a resident of Oklahoma, email a copy of your license showing Oklahoma residency to and we'll send you a code for $5 OFF your entry fee.

The individual or corporation submitting the film warrants that he/she is authorized to commit the film to screening at any time during the 2021 Tonkawa Film Festival. Selected entries must send festival screening copy in H.264 (.mp4) format.

Every possible care will be taken with entries while in our possession, however, we cannot accept responsibility for loss, damage or additional charges incurred en route, or due to normal wear and tear, or due to equipment failure. Do NOT send original prints or master copies. Additionally, Tonkawa Film Festival and the Tonkawa Chamber of Commerce is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any film.


-- Entry fee (must be paid online).

--3-Line Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)

--COLLEGE STUDENTS: Include proof of student status at the time of production. (Copy of student ID or transcript.)

--YOUNG FILMMAKERS: Include a copy of your state or student id verifying your age at the time of completion of the film. You may submit a letter from a teacher if you do not have photo ID.

--OKLAHOMA RESIDENTS: Include proof of residence or proof that the entry was shot predominantly in the state of Oklahoma.

--Accepted entries must submit at least one digital, horizontal 300dpi still photo from the film and at least one web-ready still at 72dpi and 560x315 pixels. Also submit film posters in .jpg format if available.

Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants on or about March 7, 2021.


Trophies accompanied with a certificate will be awarded in each category as well as a Best of Fest Award.

*Additional jury prizes may be given out

Overall Rating
  • Lawrence Hennigan

    I was honored to have the world premiere of my short film, "Interloper" at the inaugural Tonkawa Film Festival. My experience was nothing short of amazing. Let me begin by saying James, the festival director was in constant contact with me from the beginning. He made me feel supported and welcomed from beginning to end.

    My festival experience far exceeded my highest hopes. Every meal was provided for us, including an amazing five course lunch at TS Fork, a wonderful local restaurant. Even our hotel rooms were provided free of charge by the Tonkawa Hotel and Casino! The rooms were clean and very comfortable. We were driven everywhere by the kind local volunteers. Myself and my fellow filmmakers had a full schedule of events throughout the town including a tour of the largest collection of hand-painted movie posters, the opening of an art gallery, town murals, a tour of the 'Heart of Tonkawa' labyrinth -- the town even put on a PARADE for us! We got to ride in a horse-drawn wagon! What other festival does something that amazing?!

    Our two nights of screenings were a dream. My film premiered on opening night to a crowd of 150 of Tonkawa's finest. The whole town, including the mayor, and town council was so supportive and inviting to all of the filmmakers, myself included. The festival's emcee, Lance made me feel so comfortable during my audience Q&A (he's hilarious and a great dancer, by the way!). I was asked smart, engaging questions by a enthusiastic, supportive audience. The other films selected were very well done and I feel honored to have been in their company.

    My experience at the inaugural Tonkawa Film Festival is one I already hold dear to my heart. It was hands-down the best time I've ever had at a festival. I had so much fun and made a bunch of new friends. I feel like an honorary Tonkawanian. I can't wait to return! Do yourself a favor and submit your next project to the Tonkawa Film Festival.

    March 2020
  • Gabriel Furman

    This is a festival for filmmakers by filmmakers. The love and communication given was top notch. They care.

    March 2020
  • Murder of Crows

    The whole town of Tonkawa treated the film makers so well. The festival fed us for every meal, we never had to pay for anything. They took us to a five course meal all from locally sourced ingredients. They do also have options for gluten free and vegan diets. The town threw a parade for us and we got to ride in a horse drawn carriage and wave at all the fans. They took us to see tons of art. We got to see paintings, murals, and an iterative labyrinth. I got to talk with well known directors and actors and had tons of opportunities to make connections with them. They also paid for my hotel room! The mayor of Tonkawa would even come hang out with us. The whole town was so welcoming and the films were so good!

    March 2020
  • The Tonkawa film festival outdid themselves on their very FIRST festival! No exaggeration, the entire town came together to give us filmmakers the star treatment (plus, we were IN a parade, how many film fests can brag about that?). Personal thanks to James, Lance, and everyone who came from all over the U.S. to do something special like this. The hard work definitely showed and I appreciate it so much!

    March 2020
  • Although we were unable to attend, we were thrilled to screen with Tonkawa! We received regular contact and it was clear that the experience was amazing for those who could go. James Oxford is a class act; so is this festival. I recommend submitting for sure!

    March 2020