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 11th festival at Chicago Filmmakers, located in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago’s north side, from July 24-30, 2021. The Blue Glass Awards ceremony will be privately recorded and streamed live to the public via Facebook and YouTube on August 1, 2021.

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
Best Documentary Short
Best Music Video
Best Experimental
Best Animation
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
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 December 4, 2020. All early submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, February 5, 2021. All regular submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, February 26, 2021. All late submissions must be submitted no later than Friday, March 19, 2021. 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 2021 festival must have been completed no earlier than January 2018.

Film producers are responsible for all insurance and shipment costs. Every effort will be made to send notifications by June 7, 2021. 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 June 7, 2021, 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 (i.e., Vimeo, YouTube, etc.). Non-English language produced films must have English subtitles or be dubbed in English.

II. By submitting, the Entrant grants BWiFF non-exclusive permission to exhibit the film at the scheduled 2021 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 2021 festival.

III. 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.

IV. 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.

V. 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 June 7, 2021, it is the responsibility of the entrant to contact our programming department.

VI. 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.

VII. Films accepted for exhibition are expected to provide a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) 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.

VIII. 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.

IX. 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 April 23, 2021.

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

Overall Rating
  • BWiFF hasn't happened due to COVID but will in 2021. Their communication is great and their lineup looks excellent.

    September 2020
  • Joanna Ke

    Thanks for such a great fest! Even though my team and I couldn't attend, they kept in communication with us about our film's screening and even managed to connect us in via Skype after the screening. Wonderful festival!

    October 2018
  • Jeff Fry

    A well organized and well moderated event with an intimate setting attracting serious filmmakers and a passionate, attentive audience. The directors, staff and judges genuinely care about the filmmakers and their presentations, which only screen in the evenings and in similarly constructed blocks, making their audience attendance as balanced as possible. The judging is fair and impartial, with the judges actually watching the films for the first time with the audience, but holding private daily discussions regarding the various entries and categories. The programming is exquisite - this festival seems to attract and select only the highest quality domestic and international films of original content. The festival also offers Q&A by Skype, allowing those filmmakers who are unable to attend an opportunity to discuss their work. This is a most enjoyable event, run by warm and caring individuals, with an open bar, nightly after parties, and considerable filmmaker and audience interaction, but it is a filmmaker festival, so if you are looking for agents, managers or distributors to be in attendance, check first. It was an honor to screen among films of such rare quality, and to build new friendships with some of the most passionate filmmakers, staff and audience members that I have encountered. I would love to come back again, with or without a new film.

    August 2018
  • I couldn't have been more thrilled to play at the Blue Whiskey in 2018. The venue was really great and intimate. The quality of the programming was excellent and I felt like our film was in great company. There were great QAs following each screening as well as supportive staff. Things couldn't have gone better! I hope to revisit or resubmit next year. Oh - and open bar? Very cool! Def worth submitting your next film to.

    August 2018
  • Diane Quon

    This was one of my favorite festivals! The screening was well-attended with engaged, appreciative audiences. Steve and the entire staff was so professional and informative and made each filmmaker feel special. Also loved their new venue! A privilege to have been part of this wonderful fest!

    September 2017