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 14th DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition is the largest short film event on the East Coast of the United States.

In 2016, we screened 131 films from 26 countries in 18 unique showcases that played over 11 days to a total audience of 9,00 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. 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


Awards & Prizes

(as of December 1, 2016)

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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)
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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!.....

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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 -

Rules & Terms

==> 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, 2016. 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 or Illegible or incomplete entry forms will not be accepted. Entry forms that do not include full payment of entry fees or working online screener URL by April 30, 2017 will not be accepted.

ONLINE SCREENERS. We accept online screeners through and when submitted through our own submission form, and through our various submission form partners. 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 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 will receive a short critique and 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, with a link to the reviewers’ comments, will be sent to the email address provided on the entry form no later than July 8, 2017. 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 20, 2017. DC Shorts requires two files for projection: a professionally converted DCP (24fps only) and an AppleTV formatted .mp4 file. Both files to Simple DCP 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. The office phone number is 202-393-4266.

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 7-17, 2017) 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, 2018 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.

7 Reviews

Overall Rating
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    john fortson

    DC Shorts was an incredible festival with great communication, attentive, welcoming festival organizers and staff as well as being one of the best programmed festivals I attended. The films were programmed into themes which I felt worked really well and helped create really interesting Q & A Sessions. Many of the best films from the festival circuit play here. Not to be missed!

    January 2017
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    Steve Desmond

    Excellent festival! I feel that you can instantly tell if festival programmers genuinely care about the filmmakers, and the team behind DC Shorts definitely do care. A lot. The communication was top notch. I regrettably was unable to attend in person but heard nothing but good things. I'd definitely submit again.

    January 2017
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    Michael Goldburg

    Terrific festival, great programming, and a warm and inclusive, down-to-earth vibe from all the staff. Our block of shorts was one of the most imaginative and well-programmed of any that we were in. Don't miss the awards ceremony, which was very personal and inspiring. A great way to meet the other filmmakers, too. Thanks DC Shorts!

    January 2017
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    Brianne Nord-Stewart

    I had a great time attending DC Shorts! I always like adventuring to new places. I was a bit disappointed that some of the filmmaker evening events were cancelled last minute, and that is wasn't inherently clear where the in town filmmakers could go to meet each other everyday (other than screenings) but we figured it out!

    By far the shorts programming was some of the best, if not the best I have ever witnessed, and I have been to a lot of film festivals – including Clermont-Ferrand. I thought the programmers were absolutely lovely, and I look forward to coming back again (if you'll have me).

    November 2016
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    Greg Emetaz

    Great experience with the DC Shorts and love the feedback you get from their reviewers!

    October 2016