Celebrating 40 years in 2021, the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF) is one of Minnesota’s most anticipated annual cultural events, and the largest film festival in the region. Over 17 days each spring, MSPIFF brings cinematic wonder to screens across the Twin Cities, presenting 250+ new international, independent films, and offering audiences of 45,000+ countless opportunities to engage with 150+ visiting filmmakers and talent from around the world.

It will be hard to predict what conditions we will face in the spring of 2021, but we are committed to promoting the art of film as a medium that fosters cross-cultural understanding, education, entertainment, and exploration. We intend to continue offering audiences unique opportunities to experience the wealth of international cinema, to engage with and learn from international filmmakers, and to share these experiences as a community. While we are hopeful the festival can return to traditional screenings in theater venues in 2021, our current planning includes virtual and live screening settings.

As we are planning for MSPIFF 40, we will be closely monitoring health and safety guidelines. We will strive to communicate any news about possible event changes if and when they may occur. Potential changes could include dates, venues, and formats.

We have signed Seed & Spark’s 2020 Film Festival Survival Pledge, and have adjusted premiere requirements and production deadlines.

Films of all genres and lengths are encouraged to submit for consideration.

Minnesota-based filmmakers: Please complete this waiver request form for a full fee waiver: http://bit.ly/40mspiffwaiver

Please note: For the 2021 festival, submissions to our Nextwave Youth Film Competition for filmmakers ages 18 and under will be accepted on a separate festival page located at filmfreeway.com/nextwavemspiff.

The Festival presents the following awards:

Emerging Filmmaker Award
Documentary Feature
Spotlight Competition
Minnesota Made Fiction Feature
Minnesota Made Documentary Feature
Fiction Short
Documentary Short

Films in competition are selected by the programming committee on an invite only basis.

Audience Choice Awards are given for each category and determined by audience balloting at the festival.

For award descriptions and competition eligibility information see the Guidelines & FAQs on our website at mspfilm.org/mspiff-submissions


All films:

I. Must have been completed after January 1, 2019.

II. Foreign language (non-English) submissions must be available in their original language and soundtrack with English subtitles.

III. Films that have been submitted for consideration in previous years are eligible for consideration only if they have undergone extensive changes and re-apply as a new submission.

IV. The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul reserves the right to determine eligibility of any work submitted.


I. Minnesota Premieres are required of all feature submissions.

II. Feature films that have had a public ticketed screening anywhere in Minnesota are not eligible for submission.

III. Feature submissions must not have been broadcast or televised regionally, nor made publicly available in their entirety online prior to their date of exhibition in the festival.

IV. Films that have been previously screened online in an official ticketed-festival capacity are eligible for submission.


I. Whereas Minnesota Premieres are required of all feature films, they are not required of short films. Additionally, short films may also be available for streaming online prior to its festival screening. However, these factors will be taken into consideration during selection and films that have played in Minnesota or are available online are ineligible for juried competition.


The following requirements must be met before a submission can be considered for inclusion:

I. Completed Submission Form (via FilmFreeway).

II. Submission Fee*. Payment is accepted via FilmFreeway or money order made out to The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul.

III. Submissions must include an online screener (Vimeo preferred). The Festival no longer accepts submissions via DVD.

Please note: Changing the password for a private online screener will make the submission unviewable, and therefore disqualified. The Festival will attempt, but is under no obligation, to contact the applicant for an updated password.

* The following fee waivers are available. A waiver request form can be found at http://bit.ly/40mspiffwaiver.

A. Minnesota Made: In recognition of Minnesota’s filmmaking community, MSPIFF offers one (1) complimentary submission per individual for projects that qualify as “Minnesota Made” and are submitted before the Late Deadline. Eligible “Minnesota Made” films submitted after the Late Deadline may request a 50% discounted entry. To qualify, a film’s director must be a current Minnesota resident OR a combined 50% or more of production and/or post-production must have taken place in Minnesota.

B. Alumni: Filmmakers whose work has been previously shown at MSPIFF are eligible for complimentary submissions.

C. Student: Films made exclusively by college students are eligible for a 50% discount off regular submission fees.

Other waivers may be granted under special circumstances. Please use the form at the URL http://bit.ly/mspiffwaiver to make a request.


Notifications regarding acceptance and non-acceptance of submissions will be sent by March 11th, 2021.

I. Immediately upon notification of acceptance, submitters or primary contacts will be required to fill out an official Confirmation Form so as to provide festival staff with the most accurate and necessary information. The form includes but is not limited to the following:

a. Online screener link (to be used for competition jury and press requests through the duration of the festival)
b. Cast/Crew information
c. Synopsis
d. High-res film stills
e. Premiere status
f. Filmmaker attendance

II. All films must be made available in Digital Cinema Package (DCP) format.

III. All exhibition copies, including back-up content, must be delivered to the Festival office by March 25th, 2021.

IV. Physical exhibition copies must be shipped prepaid, insured, and properly packaged. The Festival does not assume liability for damage to prints due to improper packaging or other reasons. All films while in our possession will be insured against loss and damage while participating in the event. The Festival will provide return shipping. If requested, the Festival may ship the exhibition material to another festival, decided on a case-by-case basis.

V. The Festival reserves the right to place accepted works in the appropriate program.

VI. The Festival reserves the right to remove a film from the festival 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.

VII. Accepted films may be screened between 1-4 times, at the discretion of the Festival.

VIII. Screenings will take place at official festival venues, including, but not limited to: St. Anthony Main Theatre, and Marcus Rochester Cinema.

IX. The Festival reserves the right to use images from selected films for Festival marketing purposes.

X. The Festival does not pay screening fees for accepted submissions.


I, the authorized representative of the project being submitted (hereafter called the “Film”) acknowledge that I am duly authorized, on my own behalf and on behalf of all other persons or entities who have any ownership rights or interests in or relating to the Film (hereafter called the “Film’s Owners”) to submit to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. I warrant and agree, on behalf of myself and each of the Film’s Owners, that the Film is being submitted voluntarily and without promise or inducement, and that the submission of the Film neither imposes nor creates any obligation or responsibility on the part of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival or The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul (hereafter called The Festival) to accept the Film for inclusion in The Festival, to exhibit the Film at The Festival, to acknowledge the submission of The Film, or to return the submission copy of The Film or associated submission materials to me or others.

I shall indemnify and hold harmless The 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. I have paid and will pay in full all license fees, clearance fees, and other obligations, of any kind, arising from or associated with the exhibition of the Film at or in connection with The Festival.

I understand that The Festival reserves the right to waive or adjust any requirements outlined herein. I understand that I am not entitled to any refund or damage claims of any kind if my film is unable to screen due to technical or operational difficulties or if my film needs to be rescheduled, delayed, or removed from the program for any reason.

By submitting, I warrant that I have read, understood, and accept all aforementioned regulations and requirements pertaining to submission to The Festival.

Overall Rating
  • Ayesha Adu

    My team and I were extremely honored to have our short film, Little Men, in this festival. Nothing like hometown love! Thanks for everything, MSPIFF!!

    May 2020
  • Our short film HIEROPHANY was accepted and although we couldn't attend. Communication with festival staff and programmers was excellent. Thank you again for the support!

    April 2019
  • I couldn't attend because of visa issues, but the staff is very communicative and friendly. The website is super handy and the interface of it is stunningly beautiful. We loved our film section of the website and the logline they wrote for us way more eloquent than mine. We also still get trailer clicks from the website.
    Thanks MSPIFF for screening our film.

    May 2018
  • Cy Dodson

    This is a great festival that gives filmmakers, especially us local guys and gals a venue to share their work with audiences. There are also plenty of national and international films to take in over the course of three weeks with a nice mix of docs and narratives to go around. I've screened my last two films there and would recommend a submission to MSPIFF.

    May 2018
  • Justin Ayd

    MSPIFF 37 was an absolute delight. Their overall communication between programmer and filmmaker is stellar. One of the worst blizzards in Minnesota history certainly didn't keep film lovers away - including us.

    May 2018