Recently named the “Coolest Short Film Festival” by Moviemaker Magazine, the 17th DC Shorts International Film Festival and Screenplay Competition 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. In 2019, we screened 156 films from 38 countries in 30 unique showcases that played over 10 days to a total audience of over 9,000 people, with many of the titles available for online viewing on the Online Festival; which runs concurrently with the Shorts Fest. We also hosted a table read of six screenplays, and awarded the winner an incredible prize of $2,000.

(as of December 1, 2019)

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

JURY PRIZES (Sample from Previous Years)
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Software Packages (Final Cut, Final Draft, Gorilla Software, Red Giant, Write Brothers, Etc.)
Equipment Rentals
Projection Equipment
And More!

==> We HIGHLY recommend reading our updated rules, process and FAQs on our website:

Please read this agreement carefully before you submit your film.
By submitting your film for consideration for the 17th Annual DC Shorts International 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, 2019.
- 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.

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 December 31, 2019 will not be accepted.

Regular Deadline -$60
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by February 29, 2020 will not be accepted.

Late Deadline - $70
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by March 31, 2020 will not be accepted.

Extended Deadline - $85
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by May 15, 2020 will not be accepted.

*We do NOT grant waivers. (If you are an alum, please email for a discount code.)
*Entry fees must be paid online with any major credit card.
*We do NOT accept checks.
*Entry fees are non-refundable.
*Entries will not be viewed without payment.
*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 International 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 July 8, 2020 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.

* Films, acceptance contracts and other materials mentioned in the Letter of Acceptance MUST ARRIVE at the Festival office NO LATER THAN 11:59pm, July 15, 2020.
* 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

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 10-19, 2020) 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, 2021 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 International 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
  • DC Shorts is such an amazing festival with great staff and the selection of films is also excellent! I have been lucky to be part of two editions and won awards in both of them. This is a festival that cares about their filmmakers and not just slap a laurel on your poster! Highly recommended!

    September 2020
  • Awesome festival! This festival really cares about the craft of filmmaking and they do a lot of advocacy. Check out their website to see what I mean. Programmer Joe Bilancio is really great. I had a great time at the festival and DC is a great place to visit! Definitely submit to this one!

    February 2020
  • Katie Green

    This is the second year in a row that one of our student films was selected for DC Shorts, and we were thrilled and honored to be part of the festival. It's a pleasure working with the team.

    October 2019
  • Frederic Zeimet

    Amazingly kind and beautiful festival. Thank you for the selection and for showing my short.

    October 2019
  • Stuart Fryer

    A beautifully run festival. Lovely people. Amazing city!

    October 2019