The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival won a "Best of the Fests" award as a breakthrough Arts, Film & Culture festival from FestForums 2019, which recognizes North America's leading festivals.


Official Statement on COVID-19

As the world is grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, our hearts go out to all who have been affected. In light of the rapidly unfolding events of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we want to update you on the 2020 Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival as we take the health and safety of our participants very seriously. You have no doubt heard of the growing concern around COVID-19 and the impact it is having on events across the country. Major events have been impacted including sporting events and cultural festivals. We have been monitoring the situation and its impact on travel and meetings and we have decided that the best thing to do in consideration of our attendees health and well-being is to postpone the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival.

As of today, ACORN 8 will continue to plan the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival for 2020. However, we are scheduling an online conference and film festival during the week of July 30th to celebrate National Whistleblower Day, and tentatively scheduling a live event the week of December 10th recognizing Global Human Rights Day. The safety of our participants is of utmost importance and is a priority for the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival. As changes occur, we will keep you aware of any changes to our plans.


The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is the intersection between media, politics, culture and entertainment. Whistleblower stories (books and movies) are as American as apple pie. Come to the only Washington, DC film festival with event on Capitol Hill. Rub elbows with famous whistleblowers like Frank Serpico and Jeff Wigand or meet political leaders like Senator Charles Grassley, Representative Elijah Cummings and “Jonestown” survivor, Representative Jackie Speier. There is not free press without news sources. There can be no Congressional oversight without government informants. Whistleblowers are the “Fifth Estate” protecting freedom and liberty.

Over the last twelve years members from the Make it Safe Coalition (MISC) have arranged an assembly of whistleblowers in Washington, DC each year for an annual conference originally known as Washington Whistleblower’s Week. During that time members of the Make it Safe Coalition have passed thirteen laws, including No FEAR and the WPEA, conducted congressional lobby days, provided Continuing Legal Education training, written Op-Eds, published magazines and books, hosted radio shows, provided mentoring and lawyer referrals, penned sign-on letters, submitted amicus briefs, written columns and law review articles, made television appearances, produced plays / theatrical productions, showcased a film series, held protest rallies at the White House and on the National Mall. Whistleblowers have even “occupied” government agencies and hosted both national and regional conferences in: Washington (DC), New York (NY), Baltimore (MD), Atlanta (GA), Chicago (IL), Houston (TX), Los Angeles (CA) and Little Rock (AR). ACORN 8 and the host committee are proud to announce the theme for the Whistleblower Summit this year is True North—Persevering in the Pursuit of Justice

The Whistleblower Summit includes historic panel discussions with distinguished authors of whistleblower books followed by film screenings of “Pillar Award” nominated films and documentaries. Thus “Movie Night” with the whistleblowers was one of the highlights of our annual summit, because it gave whistleblowers, advocates and conference attendees an opportunity to interact with the general public in a relaxed atmosphere that promotes camaraderie and builds broad community support. We are a coalition of individual whistleblowers, grassroots activists, public interest advocates and policy makers. We provide a sense of community and mutual support for whistleblowers or civil and human rights activists. During the conference, we also present the Pillar Award for Human Rights. The Pillar is awarded to notable civil and human rights champions; previous recipients include Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The Pillar is awarded to politicians, community activists and journalists—including documentary filmmakers.

The Whistleblower Summit recognizes that cinema is a powerful medium for highlighting civil and human rights violations across the globe. It seeks to shine a light on stories of courage and perseverance in the face of injustice, and to encourage individuals to stand together to achieve human rights for all. Consequently, we are pleased to announce the opening of submissions for its annual film festival, which will take place in July 2019. We are looking for films about whistleblowers, the First Amendment or that touch on one or several human rights issues that are connected to our areas of work including but not limited to freedom of expression, women’s rights, discrimination, communal violence, and defending human rights. The themes mentioned are not exhaustive; films centered on other civil and human rights issues are equally welcome for submission.

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is a platform for emerging filmmakers to showcase their talent and voice their opinions on human rights violations and economic, social and cultural issues in America. All submissions will be eligible for the following awards:

Best Feature
Best Documentary
Best Short
Best Portrayal (Whistleblower)
Impact Award (Important Film)
Audience Choice

The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival exhibits in a variety of program categories.

Feature Film
Contemporary Independent or Studio produced films about whistleblowers and/or the First Amendment, “based on a true story” (typically) that demonstrate excellence in cinematic craft, and innovation in storytelling.

Contemporary documentaries from around the world - 41 minutes in length or longer - that demonstrate a bold commitment to subject matter; whistleblowers, civil rights or human rights themes, excellence in cinematic craft, and innovation in storytelling.

Short Documentary
Contemporary documentaries from around the world - 40-minutes in length or less - that demonstrate a bold commitment to subject matter; whistleblowers, civil rights or human rights themes, excellence in cinematic craft, and innovation in storytelling.

Short Films: 40 minutes or less
Features: Over 40 minutes
Fees are non-refundable.
Competition is open to U.S. and International entries.
Films not in English must be subtitled in English

Not all categories are competitive.

Please read this agreement carefully before you submit your film. By submitting your film for consideration for the 9th Annual Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of this agreement. All films will screen on DCP unless otherwise mentioned.

Contemporary features, documentaries and from around the world that demonstrate a bold commitment to the themes of whistleblowing, First Amendment, civil rights and human rights; and display excellence in cinematic craft and innovation in storytelling.

Features -- films and/or documentaries are 41 minutes or longer.

Shorts -- films and/or documentaries are 40 minutes or less, including all credits.

Feature films / documentaries must have been completed on or after January 1, 2018.

Shorts must have been completed on or after January 1, 2019.

If the documentary is in a language other than English, it must be subtitled in English.
Promotional, instructional or industrial films, and raw documentation of performances are not eligible.

All film entries selected for the festival grant the Whistleblower Summit the rights to use footage, stills and/or titles and information from the film for promotional purposes.

All films submitted must be free from any legal disputes and the filmmaker must have cleared all rights for music and exhibition.

The Whistleblower Summit reserves the right to change any information contained in this document (including festival dates, venues, events, awards and eligibility requirements) without further notice.

You hereby grant Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival 2019 (“festival”) all rights necessary to exhibit and promote the submitted film at the 2019 festival. You represent that such exhibition will not violate or infringe upon any rights whatsoever (including copyright, trademark, musical or contract right) of any person or entity. You further represent that you are authorized to submit the submitted film and, if selected, will deliver the DCP to the festival office no later than July 15, 2020. Additionally, you indemnify the festival (organizers and directors) from any and all claims, demands, losses, costs, damages, and attorney's fee arising out of or in connection with third parties in regards to the screening of said film. Further, you hereby agree that you have read and agree to the General Rules and Regulations for submissions to Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival 2020.

Great care will be taken with entries while with us, however we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage incurred en route, or due to normal wear and tear. The Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is held harmless from any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses that may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity or screening of any film.

GUIDELINES FOR ALL FILMS. Films must have been completed after January 1, 2018. All non-English language films must have English subtitles. A separate entry form and additional entry fee must be submitted for each film.

SUBMISSIONS will be received between November 2019 and May of 2020, with notification of acceptance no later than June 1, 2020.

ENTRY FORM AND PREVIEW MATERIALS FOR ALL FILMS. All films must be submitted and paid for through FilmFreeway. Materials received after June 1, 2020 will be discarded without notice or refund.


Earlybird Deadline - $55
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by December 1, 2019 will have to pay the regular entry fee.

Regular Deadline -$75
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by March 1, 2020 will have to pay the late entry fee.

Late Deadline - $85
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by April 30, 2020 will have to pay the extended entry fee.

Extended Deadline - $95
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by May 31, 2020 will not be accepted.

o We do NOT grant waivers.
o Entry fees must be paid online with any major credit card.
o We do NOT accept checks.
o Entry fees are non-refundable.
o Entries will not be viewed without payment.
o Filmmaker Feedback will NOT be provided this year.

Due to the large number of requests for discount codes and fee waivers, we have decided to include a “free submission” window for the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival this year. However, due to the volume of free submissions we have received in the past, we cannot guarantee that all free submissions will be reviewed or judged by our evaluation committee.

ONLINE SCREENERS. All films must be submitted using the FilmFreeway Secure Online Screener System, via a Vimeo link entered directly on the submission application. We cannot accept links via e-mail or streaming links other than Vimeo at this time. If you choose to provide a Vimeo link on your submission application, please ensure that you select “Anywhere” under the “Where can this video be embedded” section of your video’s privacy settings. Due to the volume of submissions we receive we are unable to contact each applicant individually if we are unable to access your film due to privacy settings or broken link. It is your responsibility to ensure that your online screener is working before the selected deadline. Submissions may not be withdrawn from the Festival once they have been entered, except at the sole discretion of the Festival directors.

REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS. All entries are automatically included in the General Film Competition. The Whistleblower Summit will review films in their entirety. Films will be watched and reviewed by members of the Screening Committee. After the final submission deadline, the Selection Committee will review the total scores of all the films in competition and select final films from a group of the top scorers. In addition to the top scoring films, final screening decisions will be influenced by the time constraints of showcases, etc. Award information is explained below.

AWARD INFORMATION. Awards will be presented in the following categories: Best Feature; Best Documentary; Best Short; and Impact Award (Important Film). In addition, audience members in each screening will vote on Audience Favorites. Awards are subject to change before the event, with an updated list to be posted at All awards will be announced at the final event.

NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE. Letters of inclusion or non-inclusion, will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than June 15, 2020. Whistleblower Summit does not send physical mail — please ensure that your email address is accurate on your application. Whistleblower Summit is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, or outdated email addresses.

If your documentary is selected to screen in the festival, you will need to provide the following:

o A DCP by the required deadline. Each filmmaker is responsible for the delivery costs of the DCP, including any applicable customs fees.

o Press kits, trailers, promotional materials and additional screeners for preview

Note: The Whistleblower Summit reserves the right to change any of this information (including festival dates, venues, events, awards and eligibility requirements) without further notice.

SCREENING FORMATS. Films, acceptance contracts and other materials mentioned in the Letter of Acceptance must arrive at the Festival office no later than 11:59 pm, July 15, 2020. Whistleblower Summit requires two files for projection: a professionally converted DCP (24fps only) and an AppleTV formatted .mp4 file. Films with incomplete materials by the deadline will forfeit their ability to screen in the festival. Neither the Whistleblower Summit nor its members, directors, employees, and volunteers are responsible for lost, misplaced, and undelivered film and media.

FILMMAKER AND WRITER ATTENDANCE. Whistleblower Summit encourages filmmakers to attend the festival. To this end, we will assist every filmmaker (and one guest) who wishes to attend by providing invitations to all parties, tours and events, and passes for all film screenings and summit events. The Whistleblower Summit is unable to provide financial compensation for travel expenses or additional expenses incurred during the Festival week.

COMMUNICATIONS. Whistleblower Summit does not send physical mail — please make sure the email address in your entry form is accurate. Whistleblower Summit is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, outdated email addresses or any other technical or human error. Whistleblower Summit staff can be reached by email at

PUBLICITY AND MARKETING. All selected films and scripts may be excerpted for publicity purposes. Whistleblower Summit reserves the right to promote any film or script to print, broadcast or internet media as required to market the Festival or our parent organization.

THEATRICAL SCREENINGS. By submitting your project to Whistleblower Summit, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to screen their film once at a public programming session. Films screened will not be announced prior to the event, and filmmakers will not be informed of their participation. Not all films are selected for this event. By accepting inclusion in the Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to showcase their film during the festival week (July 27-August 1, 2020) in as many screenings as required. In addition, the Whistleblower Summit has non-exclusive rights to repeat the showcases through December 31, 2021 for fundraising purposes. All ticket sales are the sole property of the Whistleblower Summit.

CONTROLLING LAW, VENUE AND SEVERABILITY. This License shall be governed by the laws of the United States and the District of Columbia without consideration of conflicts of laws provisions and principles. All claims between the parties, regardless of legal theory and whenever brought, shall be resolved in the state or federal courts of the District of Columbia, USA, and you stipulate that you expressly submit to the personal jurisdiction of such state and federal courts, and you further agree that any judgment may be entered in any court having jurisdiction thereof. If for any reason a court of competent jurisdiction finds any provision, or portion thereof, of this Agreement to be unenforceable, the remainder of this License shall continue in full force and effect.

COMPLETE AGREEMENT. This License constitutes the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the use of films and supersedes all prior or contemporaneous understandings regarding such subject matter. No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by an authorized representative of Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival. Nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver of Whistleblower Summit (organizers or directors) rights under the United States of America patent and copyright laws or any other Federal or State law, nor of any of Whistleblower Summit (organizers or directors) rights under the rules or laws of any country, territory, republic, and/or province. The Whistleblower Summit reserves the right to remove a film from the festival program for any reason or for no reason and shall not be liable for any refund or claims of any kind arising out of such removal.

Overall Rating
  • gavin guerra

    Though the festival season was turned on its head due to the pandemic, I found the Whistleblower Summit and Film festival to be a well run and rewarding experience! It was an honor to participate in a festival devoted to Social Justice, Human Rights and Civil rights!

    August 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Gavin your film was exactly what we are looking for and love to showcase.

  • Jyoti Singh

    Amazing film festival. Had great time.

    August 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you. It would not be possible with all of the amazing whistleblowers, advocates and filmmakers.

  • Niki Borger

    Amazing festival with dedicated organizers & participants and mind-blowing films! I highly recommend it!

    August 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you. We are just pleased to have been able to host the event this year. We're happy you found us.

  • It was amazing to be at the festival with 'The Core' this year. Thank you to the festival team.

    August 2020
    Response from festival:

    Thank you for participating. Whistleblowers and filmmakers like you make it all possible.

  • I think that Whistleblower Summit & Film Festival is an event that everyone should definitely visit! The significance of this festival is very high. I was glad to become a finalist of this event. My film was surrounded by attention, and I - surrounded by care. I was not able to attend the Summit, but was fully aware of all the events, thanks to the information support and correct communication. I am glad to deal with high professionals! Good luck and prosperity to the festival!

    August 2019
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Anna. We went virtual this year but your work and your film helped us become an award-winning festival.