Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that assembles character-driven independent film programming constructed by bold and innovative storytellers for the purposes of education, entertainment, and thought-provoking discussion.

The annual festival welcomes submissions from filmmakers that utilize story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven independent cinema that is fueled by the filmmaker’s passion for the art without large studio support.

BWiFF will be presenting its 13th festival at Chicago Filmmakers, located in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago’s north side, from July 14-22, 2023. The 2023 Blue Glass Awards presentation will be privately recorded and premiere on Sunday, July 30 at

Every year, the festival exhibits over 30 films from around the globe that compete for a variety of awards that range in genre, production, performance, and audience categories. Each film selected for exhibition and competition is screened in one theater over the course of eight days. Judges experience each film for the first time along with the audience. During the festival’s week-long run, filmmakers are encouraged to attend and participate in live Q&A’s moderated by a festival judge, enjoy meals with pass holders and partake in any potential panels. Each accepted feature filmmaker will receive two (2) festival passes. Each accepted short and music video filmmaker will receive one (1) festival pass.

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival continues to build a reputation for exhibiting rare and compelling independent films while bridging the gap between the film-goer and the filmmaker.

Best of Fest
Audience Favorite
Best of Illinois
Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Narrative Short (Comedy)
Best Narrative Short (Drama)
Best Documentary Short
Best Music Video
Best Animation
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Achievement by a Young Actor
Best Editing
Best Sound
Best Cinematography
Best Production Design
Best Original Score

**Please note that awards may be added or subtracted from the list above at the discretion of the guest judges.

All discount early bird submissions must be submitted no later than November 4, 2022. All early submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, December 16, 2022. All regular submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, January 27, 2023. All late submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, February 17, 2023. All eligible entries must be submitted online via FilmFreeway.

The festival does not enforce any category subject restrictions. Films can be of any style or genre. Above all, BWiFF seeks strong, passionate, unique storytelling. Each submission is carefully considered solely on its own merit by the festival programming committee.

Any and all submissions for the 2023 festival must have been completed no earlier than January 2020.

Film producers are responsible for all insurance and shipment costs. Every effort will be made to send notifications by Friday, May 26, 2023. Due to the high volume of entries received, possible e-mail complications, or inaccurate information provided by the submitter some notifications may not be received by the official notification date. BWiFF will not be liable in any manner for the failure of notification. If you have not received notification by May 26, 2023, we encourage you to please contact our programming department.

Entrants (“Entrant”) must agree to all Submission Terms and Conditions, which also includes deadline and entry material requirements. Please read all Submission Terms and Conditions in their entirety as submission fees are non-refundable. Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (“BWiFF”) is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition for promotional purposes.

I. All submissions are required to be submitted through FilmFreeway. Entrants should have the Download option enabled through their chosen video platform.

II. Non-English language produced films must have English subtitles or be dubbed in English.

III. A paid entry fee is required for each submission. BWiFF does not consider requests for entry fee waivers or screening/rental fees.

IV. By submitting, the Entrant grants BWiFF non-exclusive permission to exhibit the film at the scheduled 2023 festival. Additionally, the Entrant agrees to allow BWiFF the option to showcase their film as part of a sponsored screening series outside of the festival run. Non-exclusive exhibition permissions shall not exceed twelve (12) months following the conclusion of the 2023 festival.

V. Entrants are responsible for obtaining all third-party clearances, licensing, permits, and releases necessary to have their films exhibited. BWiFF is not responsible for any infringement claims, including but not limited to, credit, copyrights, and/or trademarks.

VI. Entrants indemnify and hold harmless BWiFF from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees and costs of the court), which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the exhibition and marketing materials submitted.

VII. BWiFF is not responsible for any packaging or shipping costs in the return of exhibition copies and/or other promotional materials. Although due care will be exercised and staff will contact the entrant in the event defective materials are received, BWiFF cannot assume any liability for damage to entries. If the entrant has not received notification that their submission was received by May 26, 2023, it is the responsibility of the entrant to contact our programming department.

VIII. Electronic Press Kits (EPKs) are required and should include film stills, director(s) photos, brief director bio, synopsis, and above the line production credits. BWiFF reserves the right to secure substitute materials from other related sources if needed.

IX. Films accepted for exhibition are expected to provide a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) and/or an HD digital file no later than the deadline provided in the notice of acceptance. BWiFF reserves the right to determine which category is best suited for each film submitted.

X. Accepted entrants who plan on attending the festival are responsible for their own travel, lodging, and all other expenses. Each accepted feature film will receive two (2) festival passes. Each accepted short film and music video will receive one (1) festival pass.

XI. Entrant should not submit their film if there is a known possibility of withdrawal. BWiFF does not provide refunds to entrants without FilmFreeway Submission Protection and no refunds will be provided beyond five (5) days after submitting. No withdrawals will be honored by BWiFF after Friday, March 24, 2023.

XII. All of the above submission eligibility guidelines and general rules are subject to change by the BWiFF without notice.

Overall Rating
  • Blue Whiskey had fantastic communication. Our producer attended the festival in person and had nothing but good things to say about the organization and networking of the festival. We also loved the way the awards were presented in the virtual awards ceremony. Thank you Blue Whiskey for having us!

    February 2023
  • Thank you for choosing the movie “NIJARI”.
    It's an honor to work with these wonderful works.
    Thank you 🙏 BWIFF

    August 2022
  • This festival was a blast! We were only there for one night as our schedule only allowed. But what a show! Everyone was extremely welcoming and wonderful!

    July 2022
  • Rouzbeh Noori

    A truly first class festival by people who love cinema, value unique voices and try to uplift independent filmmaking. Could not recommend it any higher to filmmakers or film lovers.

    July 2022
  • Such a delight to be part of BWIFF! I wish I could've made it to Chicago to meet everyone but was very happy that the team organized a live Q&A with the in-person audience for my film Fugetsu-Do. With so many virtual festivals during the pandemic, it was wonderful to be able to talk directly to audience members (even if I couldn't see them)! The BWIFF team was communicative and super helpful throughout the process - hope I can make it to a future festival!

    August 2021