Moviemaker Magazine’s top “Coolest Short Film Festival” and the Largest Short Film Event on the East Coast.

Recently named the “Coolest Short Film Festival” by Moviemaker Magazine, the 16th DC Shorts 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 2018, we screened 125 films from 30 countries in 28 unique showcases that played over 11 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, 2018)

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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 (A Sample from Last Years Prizes)
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$1,000 Cash Prize (Sponsor: Pigmental Studios)
Screenings (One Week Oscar Run at Landmark Theater)
Software Packages (Sponsors: Final Cut, Final Draft, Gorilla Software, Red Giant, Write Brothers, Etc.)
Memberships (Sponsors: The Lookout, The Tracking Board, Etc.)
Equipment Rentals (Sponsor: KvM Rentals)
Projection Equipment (Sponsor: Vivetek)
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 16th 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.

GUIDELINES FOR ALL FILMS. Films must have been completed after January 1, 2018. 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.

ENTRY FORM AND PREVIEW MATERIALS FOR ALL FILMS. All films must be submitted and paid for through Filmfreeway. Materials received after April 30, 2019 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, 2018 will have to pay the regular entry fee.

Regular Deadline -$60
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by February 28, 2019 will have to pay the late entry fee.

Late Deadline - $70
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by March 31, 2019 will have to pay the extended entry fee.

Extended Deadline - $85
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener by April 30, 2019 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 this year.

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

REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS. 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). Award information is explained below. All prizes are subject to change, and updates to the prize package will be posted online at

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

NOTIFICATION OF ACCEPTANCE. Letters of inclusion or non-inclusion, will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than July 8, 2019. 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.

SCREENING FORMATS. 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, 2019. DC Shorts requires 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 providing a meal pass to be used at local restaurants, complimentary housing in a volunteer’s private home, discounted hotel rooms, passes for public transportation, invitations to all parties, tours and events, and passes for all film screenings (either in the general theater or in our special Filmmaker Lounge.) 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 submitting your project to DC Shorts, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to screen their film once at a public programming session. Films screened will not be announced prior to the event, and filmmakers will not be informed of their participation. Not all films are selected for this event. By accepting inclusion in DC Shorts, the filmmaker grants non-exclusive rights to showcase their film during the festival week (September 19-28, 2019) 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, 2020 for fundraising purposes. All ticket sales are property of DC Shorts.

INTERNET BROADCAST. DC Shorts may make films screened at DC Shorts available for commercial internet broadcast and download. Filmmakers have the ability to opt out of this program upon acceptance into the festival. This is an optional program in which the filmmaker has the ability to opt-in on acceptance of the Participation Agreement, sent on inclusion into the festival.

TELEVISION BROADCASTS. DC Shorts reserves the non-exclusive right to repeat the various showcases on local (DC metropolitan area) cable access channels without any further compensation to the filmmaker. Filmmakers have the ability to opt out of this program upon acceptance into the festival. This is an optional program in which the filmmaker has the ability to opt-in on acceptance of the Participation Agreement, sent on inclusion into the festival.

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
  • 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
  • Samuel George

    An absolute pleasure to be part of the festival...very well organized, good vibes from the other filmmakers and maybe most important, really really good films. it felt great to have my work associated with the other films there.

    October 2019
  • Marco Kyris

    Great group of people here. On the ball and proud of their work & organizational skills. Venues were perfect. Thank you for having my film screen at this wonderful film fest. Also, an amazing selection of films to boot!

    October 2019
  • Stuart Fryer

    A beautifully run festival. Lovely people. Amazing city!

    October 2019