With so many awards, you have more chances to win! No budget? No problem. We know how painstakingly difficult it is to make a movie. Heck, we even know how hard it is just to write a good script (it's one of the biggest, most horribly unappreciated but crucially important parts of the entire process) so don't worry if your budget was tiny (or non-existent). The fact is we're sick of Hollywood. They only care about brands and marketing. Forget originality, passion, or vision. It's all about cashing in on a built-in audience so they don't have to take any risks. This is why we respect independent filmmakers. We know what it takes, and we're here to reward you so you can get real recognition for your work. We want to help indie filmmakers find success by celebrating their achievements with a plethora of different awards.

Every four months (used to be every two months but we've changed now), we choose nominees and winners so filmmakers don't have to wait an entire year for results. This enables you to quickly build buzz for your project. Winners and nominees will be announced by the end of the following month after the final four-month deadline. For example, the results for Spring (entries submitted in January, February, March, and April) will be posted by May 31st. For the Summer deadline (entries submitted in May, June, July, and August), the results will be up by September 30th. For the Winter deadline (entries submitted in September, October, November, and December), the results will be posted by January 31st.

We will also screen 2024's best entries with a live audience next year in January or February in Tokyo, Japan, at the Hatchobori Zero One Building. In between showings of the top films, we will do Q&A's with attending filmmakers and ask the audience their opinions of the entries. In addition, by our notification date of January 31st, we will give a $100 cash prize to the Best Overall Film of the Year (only one film will receive this, can be a short or a feature, the submitter must have PayPal to receive the $100 or we will have to give it to the runner up). We used to only be an online competition but since 2019 and continuing now through 2024, we've changed to have a live screening of our specially chosen award winners along with a nice cash prize. Not all selected films will be screened to the public, only the best award winners as decided by our jury. A lot of award winners will not be screened to the public so please keep that in mind. Only a small number we pick will be publicly screened in Tokyo (this is pretty common for most festivals where only a tiny percentage of submissions end up being screened but we select a whole lot more entries and evaluate each selected entry for awards).

If you have a horror film, our sister competition is the Independent Horror Movie Awards. We have the same overall management in one location but a different group of judges and different specialty awards.

Best Feature
Best Short
Best Web Series
Best Music Video
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short
Best Animated Feature
Best Animated Short
Best Experimental Feature
Best Experimental Short
Best Student Film
Best Sci-Fi Short
Best Feature Script
Best Short Script
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Director
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Sound
Best Music
Best FX
Best Action
Best Message
Best Original Idea
Best Romantic Comedy
Best Production Design
Most Terrifying
Best Humor
Best Transitions
No Budget Spirit

We reserve the right to omit a particular award if we didn't receive enough entries in that category or if none of the submissions met our high judging standards. If we deem it appropriate, additional categories of awards may be presented. All nominees and winners will have laurels sent to them in jpg file format. No certificates, medals, or trophies will be handed out in order to keep entry fees as affordable as possible but we do have a cash prize for the Best Overall Film of the Year as noted above.

All movies must meet the following requirements to take part in this competition. The entrant/submitter/moviemaker/controlling company accepts all of the rules and terms in full by sending in a movie for consideration.

1) Anyone from any country can participate in this competition but parental consent must be given to the entrant if under 18 years of age. Movies of any length are allowed to enter the competition, but all dialogue must either be spoken in English or the movie must have English subtitles.

2) The entrant can submit as many entries as they want to be judged for awards. The best entries will be screened in Tokyo, Japan. They will be chosen out of our official selections. We only have so much time to show movies so we can only pick a small number for that (please be aware of this: even many award-winning films will not be screened, only the few that we pick) but each selected entry will still be evaluated for awards. If you don't want your entry publicly screened, that's ok but please let us know. Otherwise, you are giving us permission to publicly screen your entry by submitting. Submissions can include scripts, short films, feature films, web series, and other categories. With or without notice, a category may be removed from consideration at any time. For the purposes of these Rules and Terms, typed screenplays, either in electronic format or printed are considered to be script(s); and all other categories that contain moving images (i.e., short films, web series, etc.) are considered movie(s).

3) There is no production date requirement nor premiere status rule. Old and new movies are equally welcome.

4) Previously entered movies can be re-submitted if, A) they did not previously win any awards in past editions of the Top Indie Film Awards and B) they were drastically changed since their most recent submission.

5) Please double check the exact length of your movie/file, including opening credits, closing credits, bumpers, etc. and submit into the appropriate category or else your movie may be disqualified if improperly submitted. Submission fees will not be returned in such cases.

6) Scripts must be submitted as PDF files in the proper screenwriting format.

7) The only person(s) allowed to submit a movie for consideration would be the directors(s) and/or producers(s). The entrant/submitter/moviemaker hereby certifies that they possess the right(s) and all of the proper clearances to submit the movie, including, but not limited to image rights, talent releases, soundtrack and/or source music releases; and assumes all responsibility for their material. The Top Indie Film Awards accepts no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for any movie submitted to the festival. All entries to the Top Indie Film Awards are adjudicated by other moviemaker(s) who may have multiple projects in the works, and may have many movie ideas. By sending in an entry, the moviemaker(s) recognize(s) that each and every judge may have similar ideas and absolves the Top Indie Film Awards and the judge(s) from any liability associated with his/her/their participation in this competition.

8) A script can be submitted for consideration only by the original screenwriter, and the submitter hereby certifies that the script is their original work. All scripts have to be the work of a single writer. We suggest that each script submitted be filed with the WGA or possess a copyright prior to submission. The Top Indie Film Awards accepts no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for any script submitted to the festival. All entries to the Top Indie Film Awards are adjudicated by moviemaker(s) who may have multiple projects in the works, and may have many movie or script ideas. By sending in an entry, the screenwriter recognizes each and every judge may have similar ideas and absolves Top Indie Film Awards and the judge(s) from any liability associated with his/her/their participation in this competition.

9) The participants will not get feedback. Every entry/submission will be judged based on its script, directing, acting, technical, and artistic merits, as related to the submission.

10) The Top Indie Film Awards only accepts online screeners. Please submit screeners via FilmFreeway.com. Ensure your contact information is up-to-date. Keep in mind that prices, discounts, etc., may vary between submission platforms, and the Top Indie Film Awards may have special promotions on social media for fans and followers.

11) The Top Indie Film Awards does not refund fees after an entry has been submitted, especially if a submission has already been adjudicated and/or the deadline for the current submission period has passed. Moviemakers/submitters should familiarize themselves with the Rules and Terms prior to submission. Questions asked after submission may or may not receive a response. We will not reveal the identities of our judges to protect their privacy and make sure the integrity of our competition isn't compromised nor would we like our jury to receive hate mail and threats (a common problem on the internet).

12) If nominated for any awards, a trailer, cast & crew list, poster, and/or headshots of key cast or crew may be requested from the moviemakers. Even if asked for, the Top Indie Film Awards may choose not to download or accept materials without any explanation. If a moviemaker has any reservations about submitting materials, do not send them. If the Top Indie Film Awards has knowledge of such reservations, the Top Indie Film Awards will not accept them.

13) The submitter/moviemaker grants the Top Indie Film Awards the right to use the movie’s trailer and/or other materials (such as the poster, headshots, bios, etc.) for promotional purposes, in perpetuity, without any further consideration, and accepts sole responsibility for the use of all materials.

14) If materials are received late, the adjudication process will continue for the current edition of the Top Indie Film Awards, and the submission will automatically be moved to the next edition of the festival as a one-time courtesy. If a script or movie has already been nominated for awards, the entry will transfer to the next edition with all the same honors.

15) All decisions made by the judge(s) are considered final and incontestable. We reserve the right to not give all of the awards possible if we didn't receive enough entries in a particular category or if none of the submissions met our high judging standards. If we deem it appropriate, additional categories of awards may be presented as well.

16) All prizes are personal and non-transferable. Laurels in jpg format will be sent to all nominees and winners. No certificates, trophies, or medals will be given. A cash prize of $100 USD will be sent to one film, designated as the Best Overall Film of the Year. The submitter must have PayPal in order to receive this money or it will go to the runner up. This will be done by our notification date on FilmFreeway.

17) At the end of adjudication, the results of the Top Indie Film Awards will be made public and accessible on the official website of the Top Indie Film Awards.

18) Entries are valid only through specified submission platforms, including, but not limited to FilmFreeway.com. User accepts all risk and responsibility associated with using the Top Indie Film Awards’s website, social media, any submission platforms, Paypal, each submission platform’s transaction processor, and any other methods of communication with the Top Indie Film Awards.

19) Communications with the Top Indie Film Awards and public communications about or related to the Top Indie Film Awards must be kept professional and in good taste by all entrants, their correspondents, publicists, producers, directors, etc. Failure to do so may result in disqualification at any point in the adjudication process, including the nullification of nominations or wins. That stated, the Top Indie Film Awards may elect to communicate only with the person who submitted the movie to the festival for consideration and should not be expected to communicate with any other persons.

20) Movies containing overly vulgar pornographic content (some nudity and sex is acceptable but that shouldn't be the only content of the film), obscene titles and/or content deemed hateful, racist, or in poor taste may be disqualified. We are quite lenient (adult content is welcome but in the sense of maturity, not pornography) but it is up to our sole discretion. If you have questions about this, feel free to ask in advance. Again we don't mind sex and nudity but there should be some story too, production value, etc.

21) The Top Indie Film Awards reserves the right to add, modify, or discard rules and terms, if needed, as needed, at any time, at its sole discretion, with or without notification. It further reserves the right to make decisions to address anomalies and/or unforeseen circumstances, including, but not limited to removing a movie from consideration, at its sole discretion, without providing an explanation.

22) Any dispute arising as a result of submission to the Top Indie Film Awards will have a recourse limited to the lesser of 1) the submission fee paid, or 2) the cost of correcting the issue.

23) By submitting an entry to the Top Indie Film Awards, the entrant(s)/submitter(s)/moviemaker(s)/controlling company accept(s) all of the rules and terms herein, in their entirety, without modification. Entrant/submitter/moviemaker further acknowledges that remediation of any sort will be limited to a refund of their submission fees. If entrant/submitter/moviemaker does not agree with these terms, do not submit your entry. By submitting, entrant/submitter/filmmaker indicates that they have read, understand, agree with, and will comply will all of the Rules and Terms stated in items 1-23 above.

Overall Rating
  • Thank you for the opportunity and the recognition.
    Great Festival

    May 2024
  • I wasn't able to go to the festival, but the people seemed very nice and I'm sure it was a great event.

    March 2024
  • Joanna Kolodziej

    Top knotch! Thank you for including us in it :)

    February 2024
  • Shelia Brown

    It was truly an honor to have my film be nominated. I’m glad that you all took the time to watch my film. Many thanks.

    February 2024
  • Caroline Baggaley

    Top Indie - thank you very much for the 2 wins and 2 nominees!!! We all very much appreciate the recognition for my film LAILA NADENE! Great festival!

    February 2024