The Urbanworld Film Festival, founded in 1997 by Stacy Spikes, is the largest internationally competitive festival of its kind, hosted in New York City. The five-day festival includes narrative and documentary features, short films, web originals, spotlight screenings and conversations, and live staged screenplay readings. Since its inception, Hollywood studios, indie film distributors, and established and emerging filmmakers have consistently chosen Urbanworld® to premiere box office and award-winning hits. Urbanworld has been supported over the years by Founding Sponsor HBO, as well as other industry and brand partners.
Known as the filmmaker's festival and the people's festival, where it's all about celebrating and supporting amazing independent film, Urbanworld will host its 27th year in Manhattan, which has been a home for the festival, since inception in 1997 . Last year, Urbanworld featured filmmakers from around the world in an in-person festival, screening over 100 projects, with a special Full Circle award given to festival alum Malcolm D. Lee. Over its 27 years, Urbanworld has welcomed the likes of Chadwick Boseman, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Kate Hudson, Viola Davis, and Rosie Perez, among so many more. Queen Latifah, Melvin & Mario Van Peebles, Justin Simien, Gina Prince Bythewood, Larenz Tate, Reginald Hudlin, Kasi Lemmons, and Jonathan Majors have all served as Festival Ambassadors.
Urbanworld Innovation provides a forum featuring case study presentations, panel and roundtable discussions, as well as immersive experiences and intensive workshops on relevant industry subject matter. Participating content creators enjoy hosted industry events by festival partners that foster community with industry peers and executives. After dark, Urbanworld let's its hair down with celebrates t DJs sharing their music with festival attendees during evening after-parties. Simply put...Premieres, Panels, Tech and Innovation is what Urbanworld delivers.
The Urbanworld Film Festival is an initiative of the Urbanworld Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization that redefines and advances the presence and impact of the multicultural community in cinema and cross-platform media. By implementing initiatives that actively support and develop content creators of color, Urbanworld significantly contributes to the evolution of the media and entertainment landscape and the inclusion that it reflects. The festival website is www.urbanworld.org.
The Urbanworld Film Festival celebrates and honors films/filmmakers who compete across the following categories: Best Narrative Feature (US Cinema), Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema), Best Documentary Feature & Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Young Creators (Ages 18 - 25 Years Old), Best Web Original, Best Experimental Film, Best Environmental/Social Impact Film, and Best Screenplay, as well as Special Jury Awards. A category-specific jury -- comprised of studio/network/streaming executives, entertainment attorneys/managers/ agents, content creators, and other industry experts -- selects the winner (and any deserving honorable mentions) in each category. Additionally, Urbanworld festival attendees vote to select an Audience Award winner in the Best Feature and Best Short categories. Winners are announced via press release to key industry trade outlets. Each year, various award categories are sponsored by companies who provide cash and/or in-kind prizes to the winners.
PROJECT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:
- Projects submitted must be by a writer, director, and/or producer who is a person of color (including but not limited to Black, African-American, Latinx, East Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander) AND/OR feature people of color in the cast/storyline. At a minimum, projects must highlight an inclusive cast that reflects the shifting demographics around the world.
- Urbanworld's programming emphasizes premieres and new works in categories including narrative and documentary films, both features/shorts, as well as animation, and web series.
- In-person Urbanworld screenings will only be shown on DCP formats. Virtual Urbanworld screenings will require a file upload with specs provided by the Festival.
- Projects in competition may not have had a commercial distribution or been broadcast in the United States. The programming committee reserves the right to waive this rule in the case of small non-commercial, non-publicized screenings.
- Projects receiving a theatrical or key festival screening in the New York Area prior to Urbanworld's dates will not be considered for the Festival. Exceptions will be made under special circumstances. Please contact our office if you agree to any other screenings directly before or after Urbanworld, other than those listed on your submission.
- Urbanworld does not pay rental/screening fees. Instead, our limited resources are invested in the production and promotion of the best possible showcase for your work.
- Projects must have been completed AFTER January 1, 2022, but more recent work is preferred for premiere.
- Works-in-progress may be submitted, as long as the final version is shared prior to the festival and a DCP will be available for screening during the Festival.
- Previously submitted works are not eligible for re-submission.
PROJECT SUBMISSION PROCEDURE:
- All works must be submitted via ONLINE SCREENER via FilmFreeway. No other formats will be accepted.
- All submissions should adhere to the TRT requirements, as outlined in each category criteria.
- There is no limit to the number of submissions per submitter, provided they are separate submissions and the required submission fee is paid for each.
- All submissions must be uploaded as an online screener by the extended deadline, June 9, 2023.
- Content creators will be notified via email of submission status by on or around August 19, 2023.
- You must have your festival acceptance and release paperwork completed by August 26, 2023, and your project information and assets (photos, trailer, etc.) must be submitted no later than September 2, 2023, if accepted as an official selection. Failure to do so may result in exclusion from screening at the festival.
SCREENPLAY ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:
- No hard copy submissions will be considered; only electronic submissions via FilmFreeway.
- The screenwriter of the screenplay must consider himself/herself a person of color (including but not limited to Black, African-American, Latinx, East Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander), OR, the screenplay must feature people of color as prominent characters in the story. At a minimum, the screenplay must highlight an inclusive cast that reflects the shifting demographics around the world.
- Screenplays must be the standard feature film length (90-130 pages) and standard US format only. Treatments will not be accepted. Only English language screenplays will be accepted.
- If the applicant has participated in any previous Urbanworld Screenplay competition with a script, that script will not be accepted, irrespective of any and all revisions/changes the applicant may have made subsequent to participation.
- Screenplays may not have been produced, sold, or licensed for theatrical, television, or online production.
- Screenplays must be the original work of the applicant and registered with the Writers Guild of America East Script Registration at scriptregistration.org, with the WGA West, or copyrighted.
SCREENPLAY SUBMISSION PROCEDURE:
- The applicant's name, address, and phone number MUST appear on the cover of the screenplay's title page.
- There is no limit to the number of submissions per applicant, provided separate submissions and submission fee accompanies each submission.
- All screenplays must be uploaded as a PDF file by the extended deadline, June 10, 2023.
- Screenwriters will be notified via email of submission status by July 28 2023.
- You must have your festival acceptance and release paperwork completed by August 26, 2023, and your electronic press kit materials and Filmmaker Checklist must be submitted no later than September 2, 2023 if accepted as an official selection.
PROJECT SUBMISSION FEES:
- Your submission will not be considered until the submission fee is paid in full via credit card. No exceptions.
- Submission fees are non-refundable.
PROJECT SUBMISSION CHECKLIST:
The following must be included for each submission:
- Submission Form (Accepted online exclusively via FilmFreeway, 1 per submission)
- Preview Screener or Script (online screener or PDF file required, uploaded via FilmFreeway)
- Submission Fee (Accepted online via FilmFreeway)
- Film Festival History & Confirmed Future Film Festival Participation; Recommended materials include: Brief Synopsis; Filmmaker Bio; Press Kit; Stills