The goal of the UPIKE Film and Media Arts Festival is to promote the art of filmmaking on both the UPIKE campus in Pikeville, KY, and in the surrounding region. We accept films from across the country and across the world from filmmakers of all ages. We like narrative, documentary, animated, experimental, youth films, features, and shorts. In addition to our competitive film screenings, we also hold a screenplay contest.

Our festival is traditionally an in-person festival, but we held it online in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the uncertainty of the evolving situation, at this time we are planning for the 2022 festival to be online as well. The festival will be live-streamed simultaneously over YouTube and Facebook and will feature live Q&A sessions with accepted filmmakers and screenwriters.

We accept paid submissions for films and screenplays from across the world, but all submissions from Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia can be submitted for free. Additionally, students can submit to the early deadline of all our categories for free. This includes elementary level students all the way up the grad students in college. For more information on rules and regulations check that section out further down the page.

We prefer to accept submissions to our festival through this page using the FilmFreeway platform. It's very easy to create a FilmFreeway account, upload a digital copy of your film to FilmFreeway and apply to our festival. Once you've submitted your film to our festival it's easy to use the site to find and submit to additional festivals so we encourage you to take advantage of those opportunities as well.

If you have any additional questions please email us at

We will have at least $1000 in prize money that will be divided up for the following awards:

Best of Show
Best Narrative Feature
Best Narrative Short
Best Documentary Feature
Best Documentary Short
Best Animated Film
Best Experimental Film
Best UPIKE Film
Young Filmmaker Award
Spirit of the Mountains Award

In addition, we will give the following screenplay awards:
Best Feature Screenplay
Best Short Screenplay
Best UPIKE Screenplay

Also, any high school senior that submits a film of high quality will be considered for a Film & Media Arts scholarship to UPIKE.

All filmmakers and screenwriters must pay the required submission fee to enter unless they fall under one of two categories:

1 - Any student (elementary school, middle school, high school, college, or graduate school) can submit their work for free to the early deadline. After that, they must pay to enter the regular and late deadlines.

2 - Filmmakers/screenwriters from or currently living in the states of Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia can submit their work for free. If your film/screenplay was shot in or set in those states you can submit for free as well. There is a special category for these submissions.

All filmmakers that submit to this category are required to clarify their Kentucky, Virginia, or West Virginia connection in an accompanying cover letter or in their film information. Failure to clarify this will result in us marking your submission "Incomplete" until you can clarify your entry's eligibility. We require this because a significant number of films are inappropriately entered into this free category as an attempt to avoid submission fees. If you fail to explain your film's eligibility it will eventually result in your entry being disqualified.

We are accepting works of all lengths (shorts and features) and types (documentary, animation, music video, and traditional narrative).

For purposes of categorization, we are considering feature films to be 40 minutes or longer, and shorts to be 39 minutes or less.

All that being said, if you are making a film specifically for this festival we encourage you to produce short films that are less than 10 minutes. As with any festival we only have so much time to show films, so the shorter your film is then the greater its chances are of being accepted and screened.

All entries need to be original work, and you must have the legal authorization to utilize all the content within your film.

We do not have a premiere requirement, but we do ask that you only submit works that were completed within the last 2 years.

Feature screenplays should be 50 pages or longer, and short screenplays should be 49 pages or less. TV pilots are accepted just submit to the appropriate category based on your page count.

Finally, we reserve the right to disqualify or reject your submission if we believe that it does not adhere to our rules or requirements.

Overall Rating
  • Thank you so much UPIKE! Such a great honour to take home best documentary for my feature film 'HARD RUBBISH'. I actually got to do a Q&A AND got a prize!! So awesome. So good to meet you Andrew Reed (Festival Director) via zoom :D All the best! xoxo

    March 2021
  • I have participated twice in this festival. Wonderful communication from a caring staff. A real community feel with supportive filmmakers. I 100% encourage all filmmakers to submit.

    March 2021
  • Taheri Studios

    Great festival, lots of great films and great prizes

    March 2021
  • Jesse Cowan

    A solid crew, and a solid festival. Glad to be a part of it all!

    March 2021
  • David Keogh

    True professionals - this is how to run a film making competition - keeps everyone informed, engages well and doing a read through of the winning script was a thrill - loved every minute and so proud to be a part of a festival run by a true film lover.

    February 2021