- We Are Indie Horror

"Immediately in the class of the best genre festivals anywhere"
- Bloody Disgusting

"Quite possibly the best four days of film programming ever put together, EVER"
- Days of the Dead

"Among the premier horror film festivals in the country, if not the world."
- Horror Hound

"A must for genre filmmakers and fans"
- From Dusk Till Con

Cheer! Shudder! Never sleep again! Audiences and filmmakers discover their new favorite genre films at the world’s premier program of horrific, dreadful and weird movies – Nightmares Film Festival.

Nightmares Film Festival is a destination horror and genre fest conveniently held in the heart of the Midwest: easily reached, easily navigated and inclusive Columbus, Ohio. NFF sets itself apart from other genre fests by its deep year-round connection to the horror filmmaking community, which gives it the first line on the rarest, scariest, most daring and most unsettling films being created around the country.

Festival screenings are held at the world-renowned Gateway Film Center, named one of the 20 best art houses on the continent by Sundance. The film center’s dedicated team of expert projectionists – maybe the last such team in the country – oversees all presentation, to ensure every film looks and sounds its very best.

Nightmares Film Festival celebrates writers with a screenplay contest for horror feature and short scripts, overseen by a Script Pipeline grand champion and 2017 Screenwriter of the Year.

NFF also rewards fandom with surprise gifts and giveaways for its most faithful screening attendees, lovingly known as The Sleepless. So don’t skip that midnight block!

World-class screening facilities. Top-notch films. Filmmakers and fans being shocked and celebrated together. Nightmare Film Festival is a prestige festival and part of advancing horror filmmaking around the world.

Awards & Prizes

Short and feature filmmakers and screenwriters selected for NFF compete for the coveted Night Mare, the festival’s beautiful hand-sculpted award honoring the dark horses of horror and genre filmmaking. The Nightmares Film Festival Night Mare is designed and sculpted by toy and figure artist Tony Simione (Star Wars, Walking Dead, Aliens, Marvel Superheroes, Nightmare Before Christmas).

Awards and Night Mare statuettes are given for:

The Film from Hell – best of the festival
Best overall feature/short
Best horror feature/short
Best thriller feature/short
Best midnight feature/short
Best director feature/short
Best cinematography feature/short
Best writing feature/short
Best actor feature/short
Best actress feature/short

Screenwriting: best screen play feature/short

Rules & Terms

Submission Eligibility:
The 2018 festival welcomes for consideration short films of 59 minutes or less and feature films of 60 minutes or longer in the categories of Horror, Thriller and Midnight as described below, produced after January 2014. Premieres are prioritized in programming.

Horror: Tales of terror and death.
Thriller: Tales of dark suspense.
Midnight: Tales of the weird and bizarre.

Submission Materials:
1) Entry fee paid by credit card or PayPal. Entry fees are non-refundable.

2) Private online/FilmFreeway screener link (preferred) or 2 preview DVDs (NTSC only) postmarked by the listed deadline and mailed to the festival's attention at 1550 N. High St., Columbus, OH, 43201. Please test DVDs on several makes and models of players. DVD+RW and DVD-RW are not acceptable formats. DVDs will not be returned.

The Nightmares Film Festival jury is composed of film production, exhibition, press and audience community members. Their decisions on official selections, award nominees and award winners are final.

Filmmakers of selected films will be notified by email or phone.

Exhibition Prints:
Nightmares Film Festival accepts for exhibition HD digital files, Blu-Rays and DCPs. Materials must be received by the cutoff communicated to selected filmmakers; films not received by the cutoff will be replaced in the program. The festival does not pay shipping costs for delivery or return of materials.

The Fine Print:
NFF reserves the right to disqualify any submission without refund of submission fees.

While premieres are not requirements for NFF, premiere status is considered in final programming decisions.

All accepted films are scheduled at the discretion of the Nightmares Film Festival staff.

Films produced or financed by a major motion picture studio are eligible for festival screenings but are not eligible for competitive awards. Films that have acquired distribution are eligible for festival screenings but are not eligible for competitive awards.

Nightmares Film Festival is hereby granted the right to use an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the festival for promotional purposes. The festival is hereby also granted the right to use image(s) and/or biographical information of the filmmakers for promotional purposes. The festival reserves the right to fill in any information not supplied by the filmmaker from whatever source available and will not be responsible if incorrect information is entered.

It is the responsibility of the filmmaker to secure authorization for any copyrighted material that may be used in the film. I shall indemnify and hold harmless Nightmares 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 screening videos entered.

NFF does not pay screening fees.

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

51 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    Stuart Valberg

    Nightmares is a highlight amongst the festivals I've had the pleasure of attending. Everything from the venue, the organization, to the amazing people (curating and attending) it's not to be missed for any fan of Horror (#BetterHorror)

    December 2016
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Stuart, thanks a million for being part of it. You were a great addition to the fest, and we loved Megrim!

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    Nathan Zoebl

    Great festival and great people. They really go out of their way to make you feel welcome, to encourage mingling and networking, and to communicate at every step of the way. They're always open for questions and very accommodating to the filmmakers and their mission statement of "better horror" is soemthing they admirable live up to. Can't wait for this fest to make bigger and bigger waves as more people discover just how professional and appreciative they are to filmmakers and audiences. Excellent festival.

    November 2016
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Nate. Hope you guys will have something to submit this year!

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    Nick Spooner

    An extremely professional and tastefully handled festival.

    November 2016
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Just like The Call of Charlie! Thanks, Nick. Congrats on the short and all your success, and thanks for sharing it with us. Looking forward to whatever is next!

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    Patrick Rea

    Great festival! Did a fantastic job communicating with the filmmakers and keeping us properly informed on all events, award nominations, and screening times. Always answered any question I had. Can't wait to enter for next years fest!

    November 2016
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Thanks, Patrick! We loved playing Pillow Fright. Congrats on Enclosure, and keep us posted on everything you do!

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    Jonathan Nininger

    Everything a festival should be! Without a doubt, the Nightmares Film Festival was one of the best festival experiences our team has ever had. The organization and communication from the festival was incredible. They did a great job at advertising on all social platforms as well as locally in the city. You would have thought this festival had been around for years for as smooth and professional every aspect was. Make your movies, submit and get to this festival.

    November 2016
    Nightmaresfilmfestival profile
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for the kind review and for sharing Hop, Hop, Hop with us, Jonathan. Great seeing you. Hope to see you next year.