Science Fiction | Fantasy | Imaginative Horror
Fantastical stories limited only by the imagination.
The First Contact Film Festival is now at Kevin Smith's SModcastle Cinemas!

The First Contact Film Festival is a short film festival in New Jersey open to fantastical and imaginative genre films. This festival has been running for 11 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.

We are a festival for filmmakers by filmmakers. We celebrate story and the hard work that goes into making a movie. We understand the pain and joy of filmmaking because we are filmmakers. Maybe more importantly, we are fans. We love each and every one of the films we show.

We also continue our partnership with First Night Morris County, the New Year's Eve celebration for Morristown, NJ. This additional event allows the First Night Morris organization to extend an invitation to family-friendly films shown at First Contact to be included in this celebration. This is completely optional for the filmmakers and only open to family-friendly selections and requires no additional fees.

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

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

Best Live Action
Best Animation
Best Director
Best Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Editing
Best Visual FX
Best Practical FX
Best Sound
Best Original Score
Best Actress
Best Actor
Best Ensemble
Best Comedy/Dark Comedy
Director's Choice Awards (1 from each festival director)

(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. Works can be experimental but should have a clear narrative structure. Commercials and trailers 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. Please do not send separate SRT, DOC, or other files to play along with your submission, the subtitles must be an imbedded overlay in the render of your film file. (We will not decode Closed Captioning).

We do not accept AI generated films.

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.

3. You allow us to promote the film and the festival with your poster, stills, written blurbs, or other materials submitted through FilmFreeway. Submitted materials can be used in print, on the web, appear n our website, or can be used on social media for the above purpose.

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
  • Julia Tutko-Balena

    I had a terrific experience here. The wonderful folks running it GENUINELY care about films and filmmakers, and they are friendly, kind, and enthusiastic to all us artistic creator types. Definitely an S-tier festival.

    June 2024
  • Richard Lounello

    Excellent festival! Very well run with great communication. Honored to have won several awards including Best Live Action Short

    May 2024
  • Frederick Schoenhals

    A great Film Festival! Communication was excellent throughout the whole process. Highly recommend this one.

    May 2024
  • Great festival with programming for true genre fans and a really dedicated team. As a filmmaker who couldn't attend the event I always felt well informed and in the loop, and communicating with the team was a breeze. Having our film Lost in the Sky screened at such an iconic venue was awesome, and winning three (!) awards was a true honor. Thank you for everything!

    May 2024
  • Sammy Verni

    It was such an honor having my film, "Low Down Larry Versus the Giant Reptile" shown at this festival. Mark and Patrick were great and made everyone feel like royalty there! Highly recommended!

    May 2024