Submissions via private link will be opening in June for Watersprite International Student Film Festival 2021!

Watersprite is looking for the world’s best short films in fiction, documentary and animation. For the past 10 years, Watersprite has received entries from 95 countries and provided a creative, inclusive space for the filmmakers of the next generation.

All filmmakers nominated for a Watersprite award will be provided a free travel bursary to fly to Cambridge and experience all that the festival has to offer.

We offer a wide array of exciting awards across several technical and genre categories, which aim to provide long term career support, offering unique opportunities, such as working with respected industry professionals and getting access to the best equipment available. Watersprite goes beyond one-off cash prizes to instead provide you with real, practical opportunities to progress your career in the creative industries.

This year, Watersprite will take place from 5th to 7th March 2021. We will have a diverse offering of industry events, panel discussions, Q&A's, workshops and screenings, all of which are completely free of charge!

Our previous keynote speakers have included Academy Award and BAFTA winners, including Bill Nighy, David Yates, Olivia Coleman, Richard Curtis, Biyi Bandele, Finola Dwyer and Eddie Redmayne.

If you aren't eligible to submit a film, please sign up to be an online judge and have the chance to watch the best short student films from around the world.

Watersprite 2020 Genre Awards:


Watersprite 2020 Technical awards:

Production Design
Screenplay (please submit both your film and your screenplay to the relevant genre category if you wish to be considered for this award)
Original Film Music (please submit your film into this category as well as the genre category to be considered for this award)
Sound Design

Watersprite 2020 Special Awards:

Watersprite Impact Award
Film of the Year

Watersprite 2020 Mentorship Programmes:

Women and Non-Binary People

Please note, these are the Rules for Watersprite 2020:


- Submissions via Private Link will open on the 29th July 2019.
- Submissions open to the public on 12th August 2019 and will remain open until 23:59 GMT on 29th August 2019.
- We reserve the right to close the submission platform at an earlier date. We recommend submitting your film as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
- All filmmakers must submit their films themselves, and not agents acting on their behalf. This is to avoid mass bulk entries which affect the entry distribution and judging process.

Eligibility Criteria:

All films must have a total running time of 20 minutes or less.

All films must either be in English or submitted with English subtitles. Any non-English language films (with dialogue) submitted without English subtitles will not be considered.

All films must have completed production no earlier than April 2018. Resubmissions are not permitted. You may, however, enter an additional film for consideration. We will not accept more than two films from one entrant per year.

All entrants must be at least 16 years of age at the time of the festival. Under 18s will need parental permission to attend.

Proof of student enrolment will be required at the submissions stage (please see the Awards section below). 'Student' is taken to mean those in education (for film-related courses and/or non-film related courses). ‘Student’ also includes those who graduated no more than 6 months ago.

In order to be selected for a Genre or Special Award, at least TWO of the following must be students: Director, Producer, Writer. Please see below for Student ID upload information.

In order for a film to be eligible for a Technical Award, the person responsible for that particular technical aspect of the film must have been a student at the time of the film’s production, with the exception of ‘Best Acting Performance’, for which the actor must be an amateur (non-professional actor) in a student-directed film.

Please note that if your film is nominated it is expected that a member of your team attend the Awards Ceremony on 8 March 2020. Travel bursaries will be offered to all nominees from around the world. We will also do our best to assist with visas and find free or affordable accommodation for all nominees, although we are not under any obligation to do so. The chance to meet a host of international filmmakers, from newcomers to Oscar-winning professionals is, we believe, the best way to reward filmmakers for their work and talents.

It is essential that you read through the following guidelines and recommendations carefully before submitting your film to Watersprite. If you still have any questions once you have read the information on this page, please do not hesitate to contact us.


All films must be entered for a genre award. Every film will automatically be considered for the Watersprite Film of the Year and the Watersprite Impact Award.

Entrants must enter their film into a genre category on Watersprite's Filmfreeway page, choosing from one of the following:


Technical aspects of the film worked on by students will automatically be considered for an award during the judging process, relating to the following technical awards:

Production Design
Original Film Music
Sound Design

* Please note * -

- Some genre films cannot be considered for certain technical awards. Documentaries cannot enter the Best Acting Performance or Screenplay categories; Animations cannot enter the Best Acting Performance category.

- If a film’s screenplay was written by a student, you will be asked to upload a copy of the film’s screenplay in English when you upload your film for judging purposes. If you do not have a copy of your screenplay in English, or you do not want your film to be considered for this category, you will have the opportunity to opt out.

- If you do not upload your screenplay to your application, you will not be considered for the Screenplay category.

- For a film to be eligible for the Original Film Music category, the film’s entire score must be a piece of original work. For a film to be considered for this category it must be submitted both in the appropriate genre category (fiction, animation, documentary) and the Original Film Music category on FilmFreeway. If you wish to be considered for Original Film Music, and you do not submit your film to BOTH the genre category and Original Music, you will not be considered for the Technical Award.

- To be considered for Original Music or Screenplay, the person responsible MUST be a student, and must upload their ID.

The Watersprite Social Impact Award:

The Social Impact Award category is awarded to a film with a clear humanitarian subject matter, which can range from the local to the global and from the social to the environmental. The film should critically engage audiences, raise awareness of an issue and allow viewers to reflect on the importance and social impact of the topic that is presented, serving either as a call for change or a way of highlighting the details of a current problem.

Mentorship Programmes – LGBTQ+ and Women and Non-Binary:

This year we will also be holding two mentorship programmes alongside our awards: one for people who film-makers who identify as women and non-binary, and one for film-makers who identify as LGBTQ+.

The winning film-makers for these 2 mentorship opportunities will be selected by a jury comprised of industry experts identifying as either women and non-binary, or LGBTQ+.

The Watersprite Mentorship opportunities are designed to develop the careers of under-represented film-makers in meaningful ways. This year's mentorships form part of a longer term commitment to support all under-represented film talent, including BAME film-makers and disabled film-makers, by 2022 (in line with the BFI 2022 Strategy).

Eligbility for Women and Non-Binary Mentorship and LGBTQ+ Mentorship:

Only the Director, Producer and Writer are eligible to be considered for this mentorship, if they choose to openly identify with one of these groups. They must also be a student at the time of (or 6 months before) submitting their film.

The chosen films will be eligible for mentoring by our experienced team of professionals, and this mentoring will be available for those on the team that self-identify as women or nb, or LGBTQ+, not the entire crew. If these criteria do not apply to you, please encourage fellow student film-makers who do identify with these groups to apply!

Disqualification Criteria:

Please be aware that if you do not submit all details you will be disqualified from judging.

Essential information includes:

- AT LEAST TWO student IDs
- At least two out of the Director, Producer and Writer must be a student.

A poster is not necessary during submissions, but if your film is shortlisted, a poster will be required immediately.

Please ensure you have read the section 'Recommended Video Settings’ further down this page and that your film is submitted in the correct format. Any films received that do not correspond to the required format will not be considered.

Online Upload & Student IDs:

Submissions should be made by via online upload on FilmFreeway. If this is a problem for you, please contact us at

Films should be uploaded onto Watersprite’s FilmFreeway page with all the required information.

All entrants must specify the year in which their film was made.

Entrants will be asked to upload a copy of the film’s poster onto the project page on FilmFreeway, if available. This will be used by the festival for marketing purposes. It is not necessary to upload a poster when submitting a film, but this will become necessary if the film is shortlisted for an Award.

For a film to be eligible for a technical award, the person responsible for this technical role must upload some form of photographic proof that they were a student at the time of the film’s production. Student ID, a copy of a student finance bill or a letter from the
university/institution are all valid forms of proof.

If you have issues with Student ID or other uploads, please contact

Watersprite Portal

We want to offer our filmmakers the chance to be paid for their short fims. We are considering launching a "Watersprite Portal" (a VOD platform), which would allow people to view Watersprite nominated films for a small fee on an online platform, similar to Vimeo On Demand or Amazon Prime.

We intend to pay each filmmaker 50% of the public viewing fee (related to paid views of their film). The other 50% would go towards the technical costs of operating the platform, as well as promoting and marketing the films.

You would not have to pay anything to be part of this Portal. You would simply receive money if the public view your films. Watersprite will promote your films via the portal to our international and industry networks: this means a Watersprite distribution platform for your short films that earns you money!

You will not be signing away the rights to your film permanently. If you sign up, but then you decide you don't want your film to be included, then you would give us one month's notice (via email to and we would ensure your film is taken down from the platform within that time.

If you would like your film to be included in a future Portal, and you are happy with this arrangement, then please select "Yes" when asked on the submissions form whether you would be interested. When we launch the Portal, we will then contact you with details of how to upload your work, and ensure we have your details to send you any money owed to you from public viewings of your work.

By uploading your film, you would be providing a warranty to Watersprite that the film is your own original copyright work, in which you own all rights worldwide, and can provide a licence to Watersprite to allow the film to be streamed digitally, and anywhere in the world.

If you have any questions, please email

Video Upload:

Your video file may not exceed 10GB.

You are not required to provide a screening quality copy of your film at this stage, as films will initially be judged online. You are, of course, welcome to submit films at the maximum of 10GB.

Recommended video settings:

Below are the recommended settings for online upload. By accepting Watersprite's terms and conditions on the Online Submissions form, entrants agree to provide a screening-quality DVD if they are nominated. The recommended video settings are:

Codec: H.264

A codec is the format in which your video will be encoded. Different codecs have different features and varying quality. For best results, we recommend using H.264 (sometimes referred to as MP4)

Frame Rate: 24, 25 or 30 FPS

If you know at which frame rate you shot, it is best to encode at that same frame rate. If you are uncertain at which frame rate you shot, please set to either "Current" or 25 FPS. If there is an option for keyframes, use the same value as you used for the frame rate.

Data Rate: 2000 Kbps (SD), 10,000-20,000 Kbps Kbps (HD )

This setting controls both the visual quality of the video and the file size. In most video editors, this is done in terms of kilobits per second (Kbps). Use 2000 Kbps for standard definition or 5000 Kbps for high definition.

Resolution: 720x576 (SD), 1280x720 (HD), 1920x1080 (HD)

720x576 for 4:3 SD video, and 1280x720 or 1920x1080 for HD

If you have the option to control the pixel aspect ratio (not the display aspect ratio) make sure it is set to "1:1" or "1.00", sometimes referred to as "square pixels".

Field Order

If you are shooting on an older camera, enable this option. Otherwise, you may get horizontal lines appearing in your video. With newer camera models this will not matter, so this option can be left unchecked. (Use progressive).


Codec: AAC (Advanced Audio Codec)
Data Rate: 256 Kbps
Sample rate: 44.1 kHz

Recommended free converters: MPEG Streamclip (Mac & PC), Handbrake (Mac & PC)

Overall Rating
  • Joe Chen

    An extremely warm and friendly student festival in Cambridge! The events are inspiring, and the programmers are considerate. Thanks for nominating me and my film as one of the LGBTQ mentorships. It is a great festival that spreads the diverse voice to a significant amount of audiences, always trying to give more opportunities to young filmmakers. They also have follow-ups even after the event to get us, creators, more possibilities. Can't love them more.❤️

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Joe - thank you SO much for this amazing and thoughtful review. We can't love The Mother more ❤️

  • The most generous festival and with the kindest and most generous organizers. A unique opportunity for any film student!

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Frida! What a joy to see you win the LGBTQ+ mentorship and share your words with Watersprite audiences. Hope to see you again soon.

  • sean Stone

    Extremely well-managed festival in the beautiful city of Cambridge. The accommodation is top-notch, Beautiful breakfasts and dinners provided. As well as the awards ceremony was beyond expectation. Being a student filmmaker myself It was amazing to To get to know student filmmakers from around the world. Cannot recommend it highly enough. I'd like to say big thank you to all the staff who the majority of students. themselves! This was a highlight of my year.

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Woah, thank you so much Sean! We can't recommend Only Looking Forward more so snap. It's great to know how much you appreciated the festival and we're beyond glad it was a highlight of your year.

  • Absolutely amazing festival; the support it offers student filmmakers is unparalleled. The weekend is packed with brilliant events, and being there with loads of the other filmmakers is so lovely!

    April 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Louis! It was amazing to have you and so glad you enjoyed it. Look forward to seeing what's next!

  • What a festival! It was the first film festival that I was attending as a nominee and I have to say that my expectations are now really high for the future. The whole organization surprised me by their high standard of professionalism and also kindness. Thank you very much to Anna Keeley, Isobel Leigh, Sophie Becker as well as the whole volunteer crew! You are all amazing and must be very proud of what you accomplished!

    March 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Alexandre! We are so glad you had such a good time and hope that you got everything out of the festival that you wished for. Good luck for the future and hopefully see you again soon!