The San Luis Obispo International Film Festival (SLO Film Fest) will once again attract stars, great films and film enthusiasts to the Central Coast of California, when it celebrates its 29th Annual festival from April 25 - 30, 2023.

Located half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo's laid-back vibe and serene natural beauty is the perfect setting for this highly regarded annual film celebration. Filmmakers rave about the warmth and attentiveness that is so much a part of the SLO Film Fest experience, as does the swelling tide of industry pros and film critics who are fast discovering the Festival's thoughtful audiences and unique programming sensibility.

In 2023 we will be offering a hybrid festival with virtual and in person screenings. Prizes and cash awards will still be presented and our festival will continue its commitment to presenting world-class cinema in San Luis Obispo County.

There are three categories of competition at the SLO Film Fest. The George Sidney Independent Film competition is open to filmmakers worldwide, all ages and all genres (including our newest category, Music Video's). The Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase is open to producers, writers and/or directors living in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. And the Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase is open to youth filmmakers, grades K-12, with films 10 minutes or less.

Named for the sixth time to MovieMaker Magazine's list of the "Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee," the SLO Film Fest was also called "one of the best film events in the country" by former MovieMaker publisher, Timothy Rhys after a festival visit. Come and find out why filmmakers, celebrities and the press return year after year to enjoy the Festival's perfect balance of film, wine and fun!

George Sidney Independent Film Competition Prize categories:
Best Narrative Feature
Best Documentary Feature
Best Narrative Short Film
Best Documentary Short Film
Best Student Film (any length)
Best Music Video
Best Animated Film

All winners will receive cash prizes: $1000 for feature-length films and $500 for short and student categories. Other prizes may also be awarded for Music Videos.

The Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase films are eligible for awards in the same categories, and other prizes may also be awarded.

George Sidney competition films will also be eligible for Audience Awards in five categories: Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Narrative Film, Best Short Documentary Film and Best in Fest (any length.) Prizes will be announced in early 2023.

The SLO Film Fest reserves the right to determine eligibility of any work submitted. All films submitted must have a completion date after July 1, 2021. Preferred format for screening copies is an online link – preferably Vimeo.

Films selected for screening at the Festival will be notified no later than February 15, 2023. All George Sidney Independent Film Competition filmmakers will be provided with one night’s accommodation at a hotel in the San Luis Obispo area (this does not include filmmakers in the Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase, Music Video Showcase, or Filmmakers of Tomorrow Showcase unless excess availability). They will also be given two all-access passes to the 2023 SLO Film Fest.

Filmmakers with films that were produced, directed or written by residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Monterey counties are invited to submit their films for a discounted entry fee, for possible screening in the Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase. The same film cannot be entered in the George Sidney Independent Film Competition however. A separate set of jurists will choose a selection of films to be screened as “local” films. If the “local” film is entered in the George Sidney Independent Film Competition it will be judged by the SLO Film Fest Programming Committee along with all other entries from around the world. If a film is entered in the wrong category, it will be disqualified.

SLO Film Fest Alumni filmmakers are invited to submit a new film with a fee waiver.

Submission fees are non-refundable and will not be refunded if a film is not selected.

Overall Rating
  • We had an amazing time premiering our film at the SLO Film Fest. The Fremont, Palm, and Sunset Drive In theatres are all iconic venues to host your film. As a first time filmmaker, I felt I had a deluge of questions and the communication for the festival was always quick, direct, knowledgeable, and a breeze to facilitate the screening of our film. The hospitality had us crying, and we were given many opportunities to do press for our film.

    May 2023
  • Cindy Lu

    So so happy our film THE VAN was programmed and we attended SLO! Everyone that works there, which is not that many people, and all of their volunteers were so great! It's such a welcoming environment that they've built there. They truly and honestly love film and have an audience that does too. All the questions at our Q and A's were full of detail and care.

    They are also, I'm learning now, care a lot about their alumni. So it's really nice to see communications about submitting future projects or ways you can be involved in future festivals.

    My view on this fest is that in the not so distant future it'll be one of the big fests everyone in the industry attends because of it's amazing programming, great staff, excited audiences, picturesque California coastal town, and it's proximity to Los Angeles.

    Don't wait. Submit your film now. You won't regret it!

    May 2023
  • So glad to have had the chance to share our film with the SLO Film Fest Audience. The event was so well organized—everyone on staff was so helpful, the films were wonderful, and the opportunity to network with other filmmakers in beautiful central California was exceptional. Highly recommend, and hope to come back!

    May 2023
  • Jesse Rudoy

    I was sadly not able to attend SLO in person but we had a wonderful experience sharing my film and got so much great feedback from the audience there. The folks who run this festival clearly care about it very much and the communication and organization were on point. I sincerely hope I can attend in the future.

    May 2023
  • Brody Gusar

    This was a fantastic festival. They made me feel really welcome and had a lot of interesting events. You could tell they actually cared about the films and the filmmakers. Can’t wait to go again.

    May 2023