The Houston International Sports Film Festival ( is very excited to open the submission process to our inaugural festival!

Born out of a love for sports and film, the first annual Houston International Sports Film Festival will be a platform to showcase the passionate, exciting and intense stories that sports brings to people’s lives. While everyone is captivated by the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat, we are looking for stories that go beyond the field and show the relationship between sports and life. HISFF founder, Josh Merwin, is proud to present this game changing festival.

Current events in the world right now have caused many in the film industry to stay home without work. One of the reasons HISFF founder Josh Merwin wants to take submissions now is so that we can give back by hiring those people in the film industry to watch and review the film submissions. It is our hope that this opportunity will give filmmakers a reason to look to the future with excitement and positivity for what is to come. Our goal will be to give filmmakers who are making submissions by the early deadline, an actual review of their film. We will do our best to extend this through the rest of the submission calendar, if possible. We know the film festival submission process can be an uncertain investment and the HISFF looks forward to giving filmmakers a more substantial return on their invested time and money. Please be sure to sign up for our mailing list at, and follow our social channels, @hiff_org so we can keep you updated on our future announcements!

HISFF will be a much-needed platform for independent storytellers to launch their sports films and careers. While there are thousands of film festivals around the country, HISFF will fill a void in the film festival landscape. In addition, as sports and culture have become intertwined, numerous athletes are using the platform that sports gives them to take a stand for causes and their personal beliefs. Many athletes are creating content via their own production companies. We will also give these athletes a platform to present their stories in a new, competitive space. We have seen these world-class athletes excel on the field of play, and we believe they will shine off of it as well!

The festival will benefit a specific cause every year that allows us to make a positive impact in the community and the world. We will launch in early June 2021, in conjunction with the World Transplant Games, allowing us to make a major impact for Organ Donor Awareness. Beyond the screenings, HISFF will also help kids live a more active lifestyle by having sports activities as part of the festival. In addition, we will have various networking opportunities with film and sports industry guests, as well as actors and athletes.

We encourage filmmakers to truly think outside the box. Their films can be loosely based on sports themes. For instance, we would love to have a film submitted on the Cajun Navy, which has helped numerous communities, specifically the Houston community during major floods. While you might not consider this a true sports film, the Cajun Navy are using fishing boats to save people’s lives, becoming everyday heroes. A story could be .001% sports related and we would consider it for the festival. If you have any questions, please email with a brief description of the film, and we will let you know if it is applicable.

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with a vast cultural landscape and incredibly wide palate for dining experiences from around the world. Sports is imbedded in the culture of Houston, overall as a city, as well as in the various communities and neighborhoods throughout the city. Sports brings together people from all of these different communities and backgrounds. We want to bring the rich flavors from all of these communities together at the HISFF. Houston draws people from all over the world to attend major international sporting events and these visitors also experience the southern hospitality Houston was founded on.

HISFF is excited to welcome filmmakers from around the world to experience our city and we are thrilled to support their careers!

Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Cinematography
Special Juried Award – Best Athlete Produced Film
Best Documentary Short Film
Best Narrative Short Film
Best Animated Film

Favorite Narrative Feature
Favorite Documentary Feature
Favorite Special Presentation
Favorite Athlete Produced Film
Favorite Documentary Short Film
Favorite Narrative Short Film

Film Festival Rules and Terms:

These regulations apply to all submission categories:
Strong preference that Films have been made completed no earlier than Jan 1, 2018.
Competition is open to U.S. and International entries.
All films must be in English or with English subtitles.
Films must be submitted with a working screener accessible via FilmFreeway.
Please submit a trailer of your film!
The submission fee is non-refundable.
Prior Screenings:
HISFF strongly prefers that submitted films have not been released theatrically, shown on television or online prior to the festival. Exceptions may by made on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the Festival.
If there are any questions regarding premiere status, please contact us at
Preference is given to emerging filmmakers.
Rough cuts and works-in-progress are eligible for entry, but the film must include an opening slate, listing what still needs to be completed (color-correction, sound mix, interviews, etc.). The application must be clearly marked as a work in progress. The Festival will only be able to consider one version of each film.
HISFF reserves the right to disqualify any submission, without refund at any point, at the sole discretion of HISFF.
Filmmaker must own all intellectual property rights to their film and music or have secured those rights and all submissions must be free from any legal disputes.
HISFF is not responsible for the return of any submission materials.

1.All filmmakers will be notified of their status by date March 1, 2021, via email.
2. HISFF is will try to provide feedback on films, if possible.
3. The preferred format for submissions is a secure Vimeo link via FilmFreeway. Access to these links should be granted to HISFF until the official notification date. Filmmakers are responsible for updating the festival if their passwords have changed. Submitting a downloadable Vimeo link, with the “Watch Later” function enabled is preferred.
4. If selected, DCP is the required exhibition format for all films screening at the festival.
5. For any further questions, please contact us at
All Submissions will be notified via e-mail if they are accepted or not.
Check FilmFreeway and HISFF website and our social media for updates!

By submitting an application, I agree to the following terms:
1. I am authorized to submit this film to the Houston International Sports Film Festival.
2. All information provided on the application form is, to the best of my knowledge, true and correct.
3. If selected, I grant HIFF the rights to use footage, trailers, stills and/or titles and information from the film for promotional purposes in all media and on the Festival’s website.
4. I release HISFF from any damage or loss of the print during the course of the Festival's possession of the film.
5. This agreement constitutes approval that HISFF may present the film at the 2021 Houston International Sports Film Festival.

Only completed submissions will be considered. Please ensure you’ve paid the fee and attached a screener by the final deadline. We are unable to consider incomplete submissions.

We accept submissions of Feature Narrative, Short Narrative,
Feature Documentary, Short Documentary and Animated Films.
We will also have a separate competition for Pro Athlete produced films.

Completion Date:
Projects submitted to the Festival must have been completed after January 1, 2018.
Works-In-Progress are considered only if the film will be completed by January 1, 2021.
- DCP is preferred exhibition format.
- DVD / BluRay (Region 0 or 1) Back-Up is strongly recommended.

HISFF does not consider films that require screening/rental fees.
Duration/Running Time:
Feature Narrative: No less than 60 minutes
Short Narrative: No more than 40 minutes (highly encouraged to be less than 30 minutes)
Feature Documentary: No Less than 50 minutes
Short Documentary: No more than 50 minutes (highly encouraged to be less than 30 minutes)
Animation: Less than 90 minutes

Support Materials:
Accepted films are requested to provide an electronic press kit including:
- Production still photos, and portraits that represent the look of the film
- Director’s photo and biography/filmography
- Director’s statement
- List of Producers and Bios
- Full Credits list
- All photos should be print-quality (300dpi) files.

Shipping Costs:
Submitters of accepted films agree to pay for shipping the exhibition copy of their film to HISFF, which is required to arrive at the festival office at least one month prior to the start of the festival. HISFF covers return shipping of accepted films’ exhibition copies and back up materials only. HISFF does not return marketing materials such as posters or postcards after the conclusion of the festival.

By submitting your film for consideration to the 2021 Houston International Sports Film Festival, you are telling us that you have full authority to do so, that the film is cleared for potential festival exhibition, and that you accept full legal responsibility for the intellectual property therein. Submitting your film to us constitutes permission to exhibit your work at the 2021 Houston International Sports Film Festival and related events. If your film is accepted to be part of the festival, you will do your best to have the film’s director and other key team members (actors, writers, producers, etc.) attend the festival to represent the film and interact with the Houston audience. The Houston International Sports Film Festival is also hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes. You shall also indemnify, defend and hold harmless the 2021 Houston International Sports 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.

The information contained in my online application is correct to the best of my knowledge. I give the Houston International Sports Film Festival the authority to use the submitted promotional and publicity materials for the purpose of promoting the film and the Festival. By submitting this application, you represent that you are authorized to give permission to allow the Houston International Sports Film Festival to screen this film.
I am the Rights Holder of the film or I am authorized by the Rights Holder of the film to submit the film and will include written verification from the Rights Holder with the submission copy. HISFF reserves the right to change any information contained in this document (including festival dates, events, venues, eligibility requirements and awards without further notice.

Along with the above regulations, the following rules apply for submissions to be eligible to play in competition:
-The film must not have been broadcast or available on streaming services prior to the festival date (exceptions may be made at the sole discretion of the Festival on a case-by-case basis)
-Submission to The Houston International Sports Film Festival acknowledges filmmaker’s understanding and acceptance of all terms included in this application.