Black Laurel Films uses the cinematic narrative to normalize the presence of women of color as equitable partners in creative visual storytelling without sacrificing their intersectionality in the cinematic gaze.

// Changes to the Festival //

There are big changes from past festivals!

- Films must be completed after June 2017.

- We are laser focused on narrative features, narrative shorts and episodic web series. We are accepting all genres (short, documentary, animated, and experimental films), but awards are only for the categories mentioned.

- Our goal is to become an Academy Award-qualifying festival.

- We are also working with distributors with the goal of getting films into markets.

- The most important thing is that we want your talent and hard work to continue to the next step.

// Film Market //

We have a film market program soft launching in Fall 2018. This film market will allow us to showcase films beyond the festival to a wider film industry audience.

We want to provide that forum for you.

*Best Narrative Feature Film //
- First Prize - $250.00 + Award x Screening
- Second Prize - $150.00 + Award
- Third Prize - $100.00 + Award

*Best Narrative Short Film //
- First Prize - $100.00 + Award x Screening
- Second Prize - $75.00 + Award x Screening
- Third Prize - $50.00 + Award x Screening

Best Episodic Web Series //
- First Prize - $100.00 + Award x Online Screening
- Second Prize - Award x Online Screening
- Third Prize - Award x Online Screening

Audience Awards (by audience vote)
- Overall best in each of the above categories (framed certificate)

* Award values subject to increase

// Requirements //

Lead character prominently features a woman of African descent/African Diaspora in a non-pornographic and/or non-stereotypical role.


Film may feature the experiences, viewpoints, lifestyles, socio-economic position, or stories of Black women, but it is not required for eligibility.


Film was directed by a Black woman/woman of the African diaspora (this includes women of the following groups/cultures: Adivasi, Aboriginal Australians, Dravidian, Pilipino Negrito / Ati, Seminole, Dalit, African Latino, Arawak, Carib, Garifuna, "Black Indian", Black African groups/tribes, East Timorese, Solomon Islander/indigenous Pacific Islander, African/indigenous Caribbean, African Brazilian, indigenous Fijian, indigenous Maori, multi/bi-racial with a Black/African Diaspora parent/grandparent/great-grandparent, et al.).

// More About Requirements //

Films should be timely, or directly feature issues, activities, politics, social issues that influence or impact the lives of Black women around the world. Shorts, animation and experimental films may present any issue, but filmmakers should be Black women or prominently feature a Black woman character or issue.

// Formatting //

For uploading to FilmFreeway:
- Maximum video bitrate: 2200 Kbps, H.264, mp4
- Audio: 128 Kbps, AAC, 2 channel stereo
- Aspect ratio preserved; maximum video height of 720 pixels

Uploaded films must be HD in *.mov, *.mpg, *.wmv, or *.avi formats. If you cannot upload your film, please refer to FilmFreeway's Help Desk ( If you are still having problems or your film is over 10 Gb, you are welcome to forward a link to where your film can be viewed online.

The festival no longer accepts hardcopy discs for the review process.


Selected films must be transferred onto a high-definition DVD (HD DVD) or Blu-ray for screenings. Do NOT mail DVD or Blu-Ray copy unless your film has been selected for screening. August 6, 2018, is the notification date.

Not all venues accept tape or celluloid film/film. The festival is focused on narrative rather than vehicle.

// About YouTube, Vimeo and other online streaming services //

If your film is currenty streaming on services such as Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo, Netflix, Hulu, etc., then you are ineligible for this festival.

Episodic web series can be streamed via YouTube or Vimeo if they are independently produced. Netflix, Hulu, etc., are distributors with strict licensing and public-performance rights. We cannot screen any episodic web series who are under distribution deals with these services. That would require a separate licensing agreement than a simple film festival application.

// Online Film Festival //

Black Laurel Films reserves the right to offer an "online film festival" option for selected filmmakers. This option is often employed when the number of films exceeds the amount of time/venues, but are worth being viewed and exposed to a wider audience.

Filmmakers and distributors reserve the right to refuse to be screened online.

// Payment for Theatrical Screening or Public Performance Rights (PPR) //

The festival does not and will not pay theatrical screening fees for films submitted through the "Call for Films" process. The call for film process is to expose filmmakers to a wider audience, other film festivals, distributors and potential independent sales via marketing through Black Laurel Films.

Please do not submit your film through the call for films process if your intention is to charge the festival for screening.

Theatrical screening fees are considered and negotiated through distributors by the festival and if you'd like your film considered, you may send a link for viewing and your suggested fee. The festivals takes into consideration the topic/subject matter, film quality, ability to attract a higher number of audience members, timeliness, etc.

We have a high number of films to process and review. It is unfair to independent filmmakers and the organizers to present your film for potential screening, only to use the process to negotiate a PPR fee.

Overall Rating
  • The Black Laurel Film Festival was a great experience. Adrienne Anderson and her team did a great job curating the experience. I feel honored to have our work recognized and to be in to company of such talented and creative filmmakers.

    November 2018