The WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival is a look into real life through the lens of local, regional, and national filmmakers, a celebration of nonfiction film and genuine storytelling of the American people. A partnership between WCTE, PBS, the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, and the Storyteller Agency, the Downtown Film Festival offers a film competition and screenings, workshops, filmmaker talkbacks, and other special events for filmmakers and film lovers alike. When the sun goes down, Cookeville’s West Side will be illuminated with film with films from local American Portrait submissions projected onto the historic downtown buildings for an unforgettable cinematic experience. For submission and ticket information, visit

- Young Filmmaker Award (ages 14-19)
- Best Short Film Documentary (15-39 minutes)
- Best Mini Documentary (under 15 Minutes)
- Tennessee Filmmaker Award (directed, produced, or scripted by Tennessean, or filmed in Tennessee)
- The Stanger Award for Best Unfinished Work (honoring the best in unfinished documentary work)

Award winners will be recognized at the festival as well as provided a direct pipeline to public media through the WCTE channels.

-All submissions must be submitted, with all required documentation and necessary file share, no later than 11:59PM on July 24th, 2021.

-Competition is open to everyone.

-Accepting film lengths of 15-39 minutes (Short), and under 15 minutes (Mini Documentary). Any film submissions exceeding 39 minutes will not be accepted.

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

-Each filmmaker can submit for any category in which their film meets the requirements, but must pay an entry fee for each.

-WCTE employees, including seasonal staff, board members, sponsors, and their immediate families, may submit films for screening consideration, but are not eligible for competition in any category at this festival.

-By submitting your work, you are giving permission for the WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival to showcase your work at the festival and for promotional purposes.

The individual or corporation submitting the film warrants that he/she/they is authorized to commit the film to screening at any time during the WCTE-PBS Film Festival, August 28, 2021, including live and online screenings. Selected entries must provide exhibition copy in DCP format, preferably NTFS-formatted. Please NO Mac-formatted hard drives. You MUST also send a mp4. and/or BluRay backup for exhibition in case something goes wrong with a digital file.

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, WCTE 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.

The cost of shipping an entry to the Festival must be paid by the entrant or preceding festival. For films accepted into the Festival, the entrant is responsible for inbound and outbound shipping.

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

- 200 Word Synopsis (may be used for Festival Program and website)

- 50 or more words responding to this prompt: Why is it important for you as a filmmaker to win this award in Tennessee?

- 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.

- Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants by August 14th, 2021.

All submissions must be submitted digitally through FilmFreeway.

Original Content: All entries submitted to the WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival must be original works by the applicant. By submitting to this competition, you are attesting that this work is yours and that you have the authority to submit this work to the WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival and agree to all of the rules of the competition and the festival as a whole.

Revisions: WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival considers all entries to be complete. You may send in revisions after an initial or work-in-progress has been submitted, but the revised copy will only be used going forward. Any scoring already complete will remain the same, based on the initial submission.

If you have any questions, please contact Amanda Powell, Festival Co-Director, by emailing and include in the subject line: “FILM FESTIVAL INQUIRY.”

Notification of Festival acceptance status is scheduled to be given to all entrants by August 14th, 2021.

By submitting this documentary, I understand that I am agreeing to the following:
I am currently the copyright owner of this work. Should ownership or rights to my film change, this agreement to screen at the 2021 WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival, if accepted, will be upheld and not be infringed. I own or control the copyright in and to, and am duly authorized to submit this documentary film to the WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival and to the best of my knowledge, all statements on this document are true; This documentary contains no material which could result in tort claims, royalty claims, claims for breach of contract, or claims of any sort whatsoever; If this documentary is selected for screening at WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival, I grant WCTE the right to screen this film in Cookeville, Tennessee on August 28, 2021; I understand and agree that this film entry, if selected for the Festival, may be used for promotional purposes for the Festival, WCTE and/or its partners and I grant WCTE and its partners the rights to use up to two minutes of footage, photographic stills and/or titles and information from the film for promotional purposes; I fully indemnify and hold WCTE and its partners harmless from: a) damage to or loss of the film print or videotapes en route to or from WCTE or during the course of festival possession of the entry; and b) from any claims which may arise in connection with this documentary film. If a claim arises in connection with this film, I will bear all the costs of defense incurred by WCTE and pay any award of damages which may ensue. I also agree to reimburse WCTE for any attorney fees incurred in connection with the defense of such a claim. I understand that WCTE reserves the right to place my film in the appropriate competition category. By submitting my film, I am indicating that I understand, comply with and agree to the Terms of Entry and the eligibility requirements.

Overall Rating
  • Behzad Yaghmouri

    Hello. Please write on the festival website the names of the directors who won the festival in 2021 and from which country they won.

    September 2021
  • Ethan Wilk

    A truly wonderful festival for both emerging and established directors. Cookeville blazons a small-town, welcoming spirit for all its filmmakers, and the festival itself is an enriching event for any cinephile.

    November 2020
  • great film experience in this era of social distancing! ;)

    September 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Antonio!

  • Thank you so much for supporting my filmmakijg journey

    September 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Esabella.