CALLING ONE CALLING ALL FILMMAKERS TO JOIN US FOR THE NATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL, A UNIQUE FILM FEST WHERE FILMMAKERS COMPETE FOR THE CROWN OF BEST SHORT FILM!

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\\ THE NATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL \\

The National Short Film Festival is a daring and different type of film event — we’re a film competition. Every year, hundreds of filmmakers from the United States and around the world accept the challenge and share their talent and films with us to compete in the ultimate short film showdown. Think of us as a mashup of March Madness and your favorite local film festival.

Currently, in its fourth season, the National Short Film Festival competition was originally called the Capitol Hill Film Festival and is now held in two stages: a Virtual Showdown and the Finals held in front of a live audience, where one film is crowned the ultimate winner. Additionally, our Jury of industry insiders presents the festival’s Best Picture and Best Director.

\\ OUR PURPOSE \\

We celebrate short films and new media worldwide. The National Short Film Festival is based in our nation's capital- Washington, D.C. and our slogan is “A, B, C, D, E, F--” because our mission is “About Building Community, Developing and Exhibiting Filmmakers and Films.”

Our competition is unique in the industry. A festival attracting both powerhouse companies as well as talented new filmmakers. Currently, in its fourth year, the festival is a live film competition, with a virtual component, that strives to give talented directors, producers, actors, new media creators their teams a unique venue to show their work and receive the positive exposure they deserve. It discovers and honors the achievements of filmmakers who produce high-quality shorts.

\\ HOW IT WORKS \\

Think of the National Short Film Festival as three small virtual film competitions throughout the year: The First Round, The Second Round, the Semi-Finals, and a live audience Finals that celebrates the best in the competition.

First, every film submitted is reviewed by our competition screeners who then upload the films into our virtual platform and promote them online.

Then twice a year we launch a virtual festival, in July and again in December, over Vimeo’s OTT service to the festival's patrons and they vote for their favorites. Each virtual edition will yield six films as winners which will go head to head in our Semi-Final Competition for a total of twelve films.

Finally, after a winner has been chosen from each category we host an in-person celebration of these six films called the Finals. The Finals is an event usually held at the historic Miracle Theater here in Washington, D.C. At the screening, our jury composed of industry leaders crown one short as the Best Picture, and the Best Director, whereas our live audience votes for the festival's Audience Award.

\\ WHAT KIND OF SHORTS? \\

This competition is an excellent venue for films, documentaries, new and experimental media, and animation. As long as the entry is 23 minutes or less, and made in the past two years, it is eligible for submission.

\\ SUBMISSIONS \\

Submissions cost $40 ($30 for Gold Members), exclusively on FilmFreeway.

FIRST ROUND - submissions open January 1 and close June 1.

FIRST ROUND VIRTUAL EDITION - Starts July 20th

SECOND ROUND - submissions open June 1 and close November 1.

SECOND ROUND VIRTUAL EDITION - Starts November 20th

SEMI-FINALS VIRTUAL EDITION - Starts February 20th, 2022.

FINALS LIVE IN A THEATER - The live Finals will happen in June 2022 when safe to do so.

\\ WHAT CATEGORY IS MY FILM? \\

The onerous is on you to self-identify what bracket you associate your film with. Use your geographic region you associate with. We rely on the Honor System.

\\ HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL \\

Founded in 2018 as the Capitol Hill Film Festival, our festival due to the power of filmmakers and professionals that it draws has always responded to our times and our community's needs. Seeing a clear need for a different type of film festival to celebrate filmmakers we created our unique March Madness-like approach. We are a community film competition in Washington D.C. and the only bracket style short film festival in the nation! We have five-star reviews from our sponsors, filmmakers, festival-goers, and film lovers. Last year our third iteration had over 300 competing filmmakers, over 15 community business sponsors, and a nearly sold-out audience.

\\ BENEFITS OF PARTICIPATING \\

VIRTUAL SCREENINGS - Premiere your film to our extensive virtual audience.

LIVE FINAL SCREENING - Premiere your film in the Nation's capital.

PROMOTIONAL LAURELS – Receive graphics to give promotional material for that wow factor!

PEER REVIEW – Our judges are filmmakers who understand the craft and what audiences want.

PUBLICITY ENHANCEMENT – Winners are announced to industry professionals, press, and additional international media outlets.

PRESS RELEASE - We provide a fill-in-the-blanks press release to help you promote your win. We've done the heavy lifting - just fill it in and send to media outlets of your choice!

SOCIAL MEDIA PUSH – Facebook and Twitter announcements of winners and updates from our filmmaking community can be shared with your own lists.

AND SO MUCH MORE...

\\ JUDGING AND AWARD LEVELS \\

It's important for us to ensure that entertainment industry leaders with a significant footprint in both DC and Hollywood are present as judges— so we've partnered with trade association leaders (MPAA and RIAA) film production and distribution company representation (Sony Pictures and Showtime) as well as media personalities (Mark McKinnon and Louise Linton) are key for us. We also feel it is vital to have an award-winner from festivals, and a top-flight journalist who covers politics and DC arts, culture, and the social scene.

Awards: Bestowed by Judges: Best Picture and Best Director. Bestowed by Audience: Favorite in each category: North, South, East, West, International, and Local DMV.

\\ Notification:

Each submission received will be confirmed by FilmFreeway and the National Short Film Festival administrative offices via electronic mail.

After judging is completed, winners in all categories will be notified of their advancement to the finals and are provided additional information such as links to winner’s laurels etc.
Winning films are also announced by social media and a press release is sent to five international media distribution outlets.

\\ Rules & Eligibility

1. Entries MUST BE 23 MINUTES OR LESS.

2. Submissions in other than English must be subtitled.

3. Multiple entries are not allowed.

4. Online screeners are mandatory. If you choose not to upload your project to FilmFreeway’s site, please provide an online link to your submission and be sure to include the password in an email correspondence sent directly to the National Short Film Festival.

5. The National Short Film Festival does not download submissions or accept Dropbox submissions. Please only send links to your media hosted on 3rd party servers such as Vimeo or YouTube.

6. Written comments describing entries are beneficial.

7. DVD entries will not be accepted nor returned.

8. If selected, filmmakers must sign releases to have their film screened at the Festival.

9. National Short Film Film Festival may request a downloadable copy (.Mov, .MP4, or other format) to use for exhibition and Filmmaker agrees to comply.

Overall Rating
Quality
Value
Communication
Hospitality
Networking
  • Thank you for selecting my experimental film ‘In a Station of the Metro’, for the 2020 'Capitol Hill Film Festival'.
    Congratulations on a great short film festival, the virtual presentation and festival organisation were excellent and I’m very happy to have been a part of it.

    January 2021
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    Response from festival:

    Mark, thanks for the kind words about our festival! We're glad you enjoyed it and send us more great work in the future.

  • Great film festival community that I'm proud to be part of!

    December 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Khadejah, you are the best. Thanks for submitting your film this year!

  • It is very exciting to have my film "In China" selected to be part of National Short Film Festival! I am grateful for the recognition and opportunity to share this story.

    December 2020
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    Response from festival:

    Les it was a wonderful film. We hope to see more of you in the future!

  • Had a great experience with this festival! Really well run and a great lineup of films. Looking forward to entering more films.

    December 2020
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    Response from festival:

    John, thanks for the kind words. You make some of the best content out there!

  • Out of all the festivals I have participated in thus far, the Capitol Hill Film Festival shines as the most well-rounded, valuable, and impactful one.
    From the very start, the festival director, Michael Rekola, kept in constant contact with all of the submitting filmmakers. We were clearly advised on what materials to provide and the dates that they were due. We were also provided with a clear scope of festival, its participants, and the magnificent downtown venue- The Miracle Theatre.
    The participants featured both local and international filmmakers, highly renowned judges, and an enthusiastic Washingtonian audience. The festival was well staffed and guests and filmmakers alike were warmly greeted with smiling faces at the door. The check-in in process was smooth and seamless. And of course, the theatre entrance was highlighted with a spectacular step and repeat for photo ops. The photographer snapped some of the best event shots I have seen to date!
    Most impressively, Michael himself interviewed each filmmaker immediately following the respective screening. Looked like something out of David Letterman's 'My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.' The Q&A segment is something that is too often missed in festivals, but this was no typical Q&A. Michael asked in-depth, thought provoking questions to the filmmakers. It showed that he took a genuine interest in each film and watched them all thoroughly. This was especially comforting to the filmmakers, and gave us the confidence that each and every submitted film was carefully considered. To make things even better, there were also audience awards that gave every film an extra shot of becoming a winner.
    And to answer every filmmaker's biggest question- YES, connections were MADE! The judging panel included representatives from Sony Pictures as well as on-screen talents from network television.
    The night couldn't have gone better for every attendee. I still hear my guests raving about the films that were screened. "Quality" is a great theme word for this festival. I definitely recommend each and every filmmaker to not miss out on this opportunity and submit!
    Luckily for me, my film, Black Coffee won the audience award as well as Best Picture. I was presented with a beautifully engraved gold plate with a wooden stand as my trophy. It's easily the most eye-catching and elegant piece I've been presented with to date.
    Major props to the Capitol Hill Film Festival for doing things the right way. QUALITY through and through!

    June 2019