DC Shorts will be celebrating its 20th year! Recently named the “Coolest Short Film Festival” by Moviemaker Magazine, the 20th DC Shorts Film Festival is the largest short film event on the East Coast of the United States.

A highly competitive festival, DC Shorts receives 1,300+ submissions from over 100 countries around the globe, projected to an audience of 80,000 both in-person and online, internationally, making it a perfect platform to share your art.

During the 4-Day Festival - each day will have a collection of mixed themed screenings with a live element: filmmaker Q&A, awards dinner, live podcast interviews, parties, a directors table, red carpet night and more! A collection of esteemed judges, all professionals in the filmmaking industry, will vote and select winners for seven awards. Audience members will have a chance to vote for their favorites as well!

Outstanding US Narrative Short
Outstanding International Narrative Short
Outstanding Animated Short
Outstanding Documentary Short
Outstanding First-Time Director
Outstanding Local Film
Audience Favorite Awards

Software Packages
Equipment Rentals
Projection Equipment
And More!


By submitting your film for consideration for the 19th Annual DC Shorts 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.

- Films must have been completed after January 1, 2022
- Films must NOT be a previously submitted film.
- Films must NOT exceed 40 minutes in length, including credits.
- All non-English language films must have English subtitles.
- A separate entry form and additional entry fee must be submitted for each film.
- All entry forms must be filled out completely.
- Music Videos will be accepted, if they have a storyline.

We feel strongly that DC Shorts is a platform for all independent filmmakers to showcase their work, therefore, there are no restrictions on premiere status.

- All films must be submitted and paid for through FilmFreeway.
- Materials received after the appropriate deadline will be discarded without notice or refund.

Earlybird Deadline - $45
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by January 31, 2023 will not be accepted.

Regular Deadline -$60
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by June 22, 2023 will not be accepted.

Late Deadline - $70
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by July 31, 2023 will not be accepted.

*We do NOT grant waivers. (If you are an alum, please email for a discount code.)
*Entry fees are non-refundable.
*Filmmaker Feedback will NOT be provided.

- We strive to keep our fees as reasonable as possible, and encourage all applicants to take advantage of our early and official deadlines to save on submission fees. ​
- Please do NOT contact us requesting waivers or reduced submission fees.​
- All submitted projects are required to pay the fee for the deadline window they have selected.

- All films must be submitted using the FilmFreeway Secure Online Screener System, via a Vimeo link entered directly on the submission application.
- We do NOT accept links via e-mail or streaming links other than Vimeo.
- 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.

All entries are automatically included in the general DC Shorts Film Competition. DC Shorts 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 (each showcase runs for approximately 90-minutes, with an average of eight short films featured in each showcase).

Jury Awards will be presented in the following categories selected by a panel jury: Outstanding First-Time Director; Outstanding US Narrative Short; Outstanding International Narrative Short; Outstanding Animated Short; Outstanding Documentary Short; and Outstanding Local Film. All awards will be announced at the final Filmmaker Brunch. 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 online.

Letters of inclusion or non-inclusion, will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than August 8 , 2023. DC Shorts does not send physical mail — please ensure that your email address is accurate on your application. DC Shorts is not liable for emails delayed by spam filters, server rejections, or outdated email addresses.

* DC Shorts REQUIRE 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. DC Shorts, its members, directors, employees, and volunteers are not responsible for lost, misplaced, and undelivered film and media.

FILMMAKER AND WRITER ATTENDANCE: DC Shorts encourages filmmakers to attend the festival. To this end, we will assist every filmmaker (and one guest) who wishes to attend by helping to secure complimentary housing in a volunteer’s private home as available, discounted hotel rooms, passes for public transportation where available, invitations to all parties, tours and events, and passes for all film screenings. DC Shorts is unable to provide financial compensation for travel expenses or additional expenses incurred during the Festival week.

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

PUBLICITY AND MARKETING: All selected films and scripts may be excerpted for publicity purposes. DC Shorts 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 accepting inclusion in DC Shorts, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to showcase their film during the festival week (September 20-24, 2023) in as many screenings as required. This includes the competition screenings and the “Best Of” showcase which will play after competition ends. In addition, DC Shorts has non-exclusive rights to repeat the showcases through December 31, 2024 for fundraising or community outreach purposes. All ticket sales are property of DC Shorts.

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 DC Shorts Film Festival. Nothing in this Agreement constitutes a waiver of DC Shorts’ rights under the United States of America patent and copyright laws or any other Federal or State law, nor of any of DC Shorts’ rights under the rules or laws of any country, territory, republic, and/or province. DC Shorts 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
  • Daniel Maurer

    It was a very good experience for me having my short movie The Beyond at this very well organised and promoted festival! Thanks & all the best for the future!

    September 2022
  • I attended DC Shorts two years in a row. The people running it have been great, as has the quality of content and networking. With 2020 being virtual, they still provided an exceptional experience for me and my film. I look forward to joining them next year as well.

    October 2020
  • Gatopardo Filmes

    DC Shorts was amazing, even in such a difficult year. I wish I can attend in person the Festival in a near-future edition. Thank you, thank you for having The King Crab as part of the Festival.

    October 2020
  • Michael Stevens

    DC Short was fantastic! Unfortunate circumstances with Covid but DC Shorts rose above expectations, hosting a wonderful online format. My only hope is that I can return the in person festival! Thanks again for having Beyond the Backyard as part of your festival!

    October 2020
  • Farah Nabulsi

    Thank you for pivoting online at such a difficult time and putting together a professional festival with a quality selection of excellent films. I wish we could have all been able to attend in person, but my personal 'digital' experience was smooth, pleasant and much appreciated.

    October 2020