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 15th DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition is the largest short film event on the East Coast of the United States.

In 2017, we screened 170 films from 30 countries in 17 unique showcases that played over 11 days to a total audience of 9,000 people. We also hosted a table read of six screenplays, and awarded the winner an incredible prize of $2,000.

As we have done since 2003, after programming is announced, ALL ENTRANTS RECEIVE A REPORT WITH THE REVIEW COMMITTEE'S COMMENTS (must opt in). We believe that filmmakers deserve to understand why their film or screenplay was selected or rejected — and what that process entails. On our submission website, DC Shorts spells out the entire selection process, and offers resources to research the types of material we are most likely to program.

===> WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND REVIEWING reviewing our processes, FAQs, past festival catalogs and other materials at


(as of December 1, 2017)

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Outstanding Live Action Short
Outstanding Animated Short
Outstanding Documentary Short
Outstanding First-Time Director
Outstanding Local Film
Festival Programmer’s Choice (chosen by the Screening Review Committee)
Audience Favorite Awards

JURY PRIZES (A Sample from Last Years Prizes)
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
$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!.....

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* HOUSING / Host Housing on Request or Special Hotel Rates
* TRAVEL / Complimentary Metro Cards (Sponsored by WMATA)
* EVENTS / Four Receptions with Food and Beverages
* EDUCATION / Complimentary Professional Development Education

* MEALS / Meal Coupons from area establishments including, but not limited to.....
*** Buredo -
*** Roti Modern Mediterranean -
*** California Tortilla -
*** District Taco -

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

Please read this agreement carefully before you submit your film. By submitting your film, you expressly acknowledge and agree that you shall be bound by the terms of this agreement.

GUIDELINES FOR ALL FILMS. Films must have been completed after January 1, 2017. 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 Illegible or incomplete entry forms will not be accepted. Materials received after March 31, 2018 will be discarded without notice or refund of entry fee. Incomplete applications, failure to include payment, or submitting materials we are unable to preview will disqualify your entry without refund. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Earlybird Deadline -$45
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener URL by January 31, 2018 will have to pay the $55 entry fee.

Regular Deadline -$55
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener URL by February 28, 2018 will have to pay the $65 entry fee.

Late Deadline - $65
Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees and working online screener URL by March 31, 2018 will not be accepted.

ONLINE SCREENERS. We accept online screeners through and FilmFreeway. We will not watch films submitted on any other websites. DC Shorts, its members, directors, employees, and volunteers are not responsible for broken or incorrectly submitted URLs. Submissions may not be withdrawn from the Festival once they have been entered, except at the sole discretion of the Festival directors. There are no refunds for entries with incomplete entry forms, or incorrectly formatted/missing preview materials. In our experience, screeners have the best HD playback, and are preferred by our screening team. DC Shorts no longer accepts DVD screeners.

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 Selection Committee; a volunteer group of DC-area filmmakers, film enthusiasts and critics. Films are scored and filmmakers may opt-in to receive reviewer feedback. 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; Festival Director’s Choice; Outstanding Live Action Short (selected by a panel jury); Festival Programmer’s Choice (chosen by the Screening Review Committee); 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 1, 2018. 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, 2018. DC Shorts requires two files for projection: a professionally converted DCP (24fps only) and an AppleTV formatted .mp4 file. Both files to A DCP company TBD and may be uploaded or sent via mail on a USB flash drive to be returned in a provided self-addressed, self-stamped envelope. 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. Changes of email address can be sent to 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, or by mailing DC Shorts, 1317 F Street, NW, Suite 920, Washington, DC 20004 USA.

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 7-16, 2018) 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, 2019 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
  • We always commend DC Shorts for the varied and strong programme they put on. Communication is always exceptional at this festival, and the networking events they put on we hear are brilliant too. We're always thrilled when we get clients selected here :)

    September 2018
  • Yasmin Mistry

    Great festival! All the filmmaker events are centered around opening weekend only, so I unfortunately wasn't able to attend, but another member of our crew went and and had nothing but great things to say about it.

    We had a good crowd and a really great Q&A during opening weekend, and were fortunate to have our film programmed for three screenings throughout the festival. Our only complaint was that filmmaker Q&A's were only offered after our first screening. We would have loved to engage with the audience after our other screenings as well. Overall a great experience. We'll definitely apply here again in the future.

    September 2018
  • Walker Hare

    DC Shorts was a fantastic experience! I had a blast there. So many amazing films! Joe and the staff were incredible and great with communication with the filmmakers. Fun parties and even got "adopted" and had a place to stay with a sweet host. Will definitely be back!

    September 2018
  • Dominique Wilmore

    The 2018 DC Shorts Film Festival was amazing! Communication from the organizers was great from the beginning. Everyone in connection with the festival was extremely friendly and hospitable. I LOVED the filmmaker seminars that they hosted. Great content and variety of films! There were lots of opportunities to network with other filmmakers through the various events that were held throughout the duration of the festival. Also, the amount of press this festival receives is quite commendable! Great job and I'm proud to be a DC Shorts alum!

    September 2018
  • Via Bia

    DC Shorts is the largest "short-form only" festival on the East Coast and the thing I love most about it is the way it is programmed.

    Each shorts block has a mix of narrative - comedy, drama, animation - and documentary. I loved seeing my project programmed with other films that had (frequently) little-to-no storytelling overlap, because I think it makes for a dynamic and exciting viewing experience.

    I tip my hat to you, DC Shorts!

    December 2017