The Summary:
The First Contact Film Festival is a hybrid online and in-person short film festival in New Jersey open to fantastical and imaginative genre films. The festival has been running for eight years and attracts high quality films, passionate filmmakers, and engaged audiences.

Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, fantastical, and magical films are all appropriate. Think of a party where the Twilight Zone, The Dark Crystal, Alien, Doctor Who, Black Mirror, Conan the Barbarian, and Tales From the Crypt were all invited. And then they all brought friends. Stephen King is mixing the drinks and Scooby-Doo has the snacks. Don't worry, we have plastic on the furniture.

First Contact is an IMDB qualifying festival.

The Story So far...

First Contact has its origins as an occasional curated film event in the back of one of the geekiest bookstores in New York City. We've grown a lot since then.

In March of 2020, the world changed as COVID 19 disrupted everything-- including our festival. We pivoted to an online festival and after seeing thousands of attendees coming from all over the world, we knew First Contact changed forever.

The biggest change-- an in-person festival to a week-long hybrid web-based festival with a live in-theater component if the state of the world allows.

Another HUGE change is that we have entered a partnership with First Night Morris. First Night Morris is the New Year's Eve celebration for Morristown, NJ. This major event has had up to 6,500 ticket holders. This partnership allows the First Night Morris organization to extend an invitation to family-friendly films to be included in this celebration. This is completely optional for the filmmakers and only open to family-friendly selections. In 2020, this is an online only event.

One thing that hasn't changed is that we are festival for filmmakers by filmmakers. We celebrate story and the hard work that goes into making it. Maybe more importantly, we are fans. We love each and every one of the films we show.

We love sci-fi, the fantastical, and the macabre. If you love those things too, I hope you'd consider joining us.

-Mark Boutros
Festival Director

Awards & Prizes
All accepted film makers will be eligible for Juried Awards and Prizes.

Best Short Live Action
Best Short Animation
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Visual FX
Best Practical FX
Best Sound
Best Original Score
Best Dark Comedy

Best Actress
Best Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Ensemble

(other possible awards as are merited)

Rules & Terms

All submissions must come through FilmFreeway and submitted digitally.

Must provide short synopsis.

Films, TV pilots, episodes, web series, etc... are all welcome. However, we do NOT accept "fan films". Please do not submit those.

We don't care how old the film is, but premieres will be given extra priority.

All Films must be complete. 'Works In Progress' will not be accepted.

Low, no, and micro budget films are welcome and encouraged.

If your film is selected and you do not provide a media file that meets our specifications (see below) in a timely manner, we reserve the right to select another winner.

All submissions must be in the English language, or come with English subtitles baked-into the file. (We will not decode Closed Captioning)

We understand that film concepts come in many resolutions and sizes. To properly respect that, we ask that if your film is accepted it comes to us already mastered or re-mastered in a standard 1920x1080, 16:9, MP4 format. Use letterboxing and side-bars as needed, but we want to make sure your film plays as you intend an audience to see it on our projectors. We do not accept DVDs, Blu Ray, or physical media of any kind.

If we do not receive your film in a proper format in time for us to program the festival, we reserve the right not to play your film during the day of the festival.

By submitting a film, promotional material or images, the submitter acknowledges that consent has been obtained from any and all owners, creators, writers, producers and/or other authorized representatives and that permission of any copyrighted or trademarked materials or content (including music and any stock media) has been granted.

If you use any copyrighted or trademark materials or content including music or stock media, you must properly list these in your credits and notify First Contact at the time of submission and provide us with proof of the agreement(s). We will not accept films with music or images improperly taken from other films, television, recordings, or other media. This includes works of satire and parody, and as mentioned above, fan-films.

The above point needs repeating-- let us know ahead of time! If you have proper clearances for a copyrighted or trademarked work PLEASE LET US KNOW FIRST!!!

STOP. Read the above two paragraphs. Thanks. You may continue.

When submitting to the festival you are agreeing that:

1. If selected and the invitation accepted, you allow us to screen the submitted film during the dates of the festival.

2. You are allowing both in-person and on-line screenings of your film and you have clearances for both.

FCFF will not pay any screening fees for presentation of the film during the festival. The only exception would be if there is a negotiated agreement preceding the submission of the film to FCFF.

Selected Films are not automatically selected for First Night Morris. Inclusion in First Night Morris is by invitation of the First Night Morris organization only.

The First Contact Film Festival, at its sole discretion, reserves the right to waive, alter, add, delete or make exceptions to the submissions requirements and eligibility.

Overall Rating
  • Tamila Nesterenko

    Great festival with an interesting selection of films! Thank you for choosing our film "There is Hope" and for the awards! Great joy to be a part of your festival!

    August 2022
  • Nice festival. Very good place for small indie film artists who create niche content. Thanks for selecting my short film! Keep doing good job and showing cool motion media artwork.

    July 2022
  • Great and well-focused festival. Excellent communication from the organisers can see how fun bunch they are. Kudos!

    July 2022
  • Ellen Weisberg

    Great festival! Thanks for letting us be part of it!

    July 2021
  • canva ma

    Good job at the festival. great communication!

    May 2020