Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) is a not-for-profit organization based in the greater Chicagoland area. The festival seeks out bold and innovative 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.

Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival will be presenting its 2018 festival in Chicago, Illinois. In 2017, the festival exhibited over 30 films from around the globe that competed for a variety of awards that ranged 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 festival passes. Each accepted short, music video and series pilot filmmaker will receive one festival pass.

The 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

**Awards may be added or subtracted from the list above at the discretion of our guest judges.

All discount submissions must be postmarked no later than Friday, December 15, 2017. All early submissions must be postmarked no later than Friday, February 23, 2018. All regular submissions must be postmarked no later than Friday, March 16, 2018. All late submissions must be postmarked no later than Friday, April 6, 2018. Any submissions postmarked after the final deadline will be considered for the following year's festival.

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 2018 festival must have been completed no earlier than January 2015.

Film producers are responsible for all insurance and shipment costs. Although due care will be exercised and staff will contact the submitter in the event a defective disc is received, BWiFF cannot assume any liability for damage to entries. Submissions will not be returned. Every effort will be made to send notifications by June 22, 2018. 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 22, 2018, we encourage you to please contact our programming department at

Entrants must agree to all Entry Terms and Conditions, which also includes deadline and entry material requirements. Please read all Entry Terms and Conditions in their entirety as submission fees are non-refundable. The 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 (limited to the season in which the film was submitted).

(1) Non-English language produced films must have English subtitles or be dubbed in English. Submission DVDs will not be returned. BWiFF is not liable for any submission shipping costs or screening fees.

(2) By submitting, the filmmaker grants BWiFF non-exclusive permission to exhibit the film (if selected).

(3) Only NTSC DVD (DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-R DL or DVD+R DL) or Online Screener submissions will be accepted. All DVD entries must be submitted and postmarked no later than the extended deadline on April 27, 2018. It is the responsibility of the filmmaker to ensure that the DVD or Blu-ray submitted plays in its entirety on an industry-standard DVD or Blu-ray player prior to submitting it to the Festival.

(4) 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 a defective disc is received, BWiFF cannot assume any liability for damage to entries. If the entrant has not received notification that their submission was received by June 22, 2018, it is the responsibility of the entrant to contact our programming department.

(5) Electronic press kits (which should include film stills, director(s) photos, brief director bio, producer(s) photos, brief producer bio, synopsis and production credits) are encouraged and must be submitted by the applicable deadline. In the event they are not, BWiFF reserves the right to secure substitute materials from other sources. All hard copy photos provided must be clearly identified on the back. Promotional materials will not be returned and may be used for any festival marketing.

(6) Filmmaker shall indemnify and hold harmless Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival 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 submission materials entered. Selected films and their respective filmmakers agree to participate in the publicity for the festival as well as other promotional opportunities. Festival staff may require a high resolution Quicktime trailer (or 30 second clip) and social media info (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc). This media will be used to promote the individual films at the festival.

(7) Filmmaker agrees to allow the festival the option to exhibit film submissions 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 annual festival.

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

(9) Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival reserves the right to determine which category is best suited for each film submitted.

(10) All of the above submission eligibility guidelines and general rules are subject to change by the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival without notice.

Overall Rating
  • 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
  • Douglas Morrione

    Steve and the organizers of Blue Whiskey are buttoned up and excellent at what they do. Our film was supported by the organizers from acceptance on through the festival. I highly recommend Blue Whiskey - as they truly care about the filmmakers and their audiences.

    August 2017