50 Film Festivals worth the Entry Fee, 2014–2019 — MovieMaker Magazine

“…Rising stars would be remiss not to add it to their annual itinerary." — MovieMaker Magazine

"The ultimate indie film festival." — Seattle's CityArts Magazine

"One of the premier festivals in the Northwest." — PostDefiance.com

The Tacoma Film Festival is a celebration of independent film mirroring the diverse and eclectic sensibilities of Western Washington’s second largest city. Including selections from the Pacific Northwest and all over the world, TFF prides itself on showcasing the connectedness of local, national, and international film. It’s a great festival to connect with audiences, filmmakers, critics, and professionals because of the friendly, and collegial atmosphere throughout. The whole community gets behind the festival and makes it a really one-of-a-kind experience.

“It was one of the most diverse and current selection of films, shorts and new media that I have ever experienced in a film festival. I met people there that I will continue to be connected to for a long time.” — Juan Carlos Zaldivar, filmmaker

“The programming at TFF had such a progressive vision of cinema. The festival had a definite voice and created a warm atmosphere for filmmakers…” — Masami Kawai, filmmaker

“Very friendly, great emphasis on the films and filmmakers and creating an intimate community for film-going. Beautiful festival.” — Derek Knowles, filmmaker


– 180+ films including world, US, and Washington premieres. Our programming presented films that featured innovative storytelling, creative non-fiction, and wonderful works of animation.

– It was the 3rd year of our wildly successful filmmaker housing program where we hand-select wonderful residents to host filmmakers.

– The third edition of our Music Video program (Track 03), screened at Fawcett Hall, a state of the art music venue with one of the best sound systems in the state

– The Veldt VR Studio. Our fourth year presenting a diverse selection of virtual reality works, exhibited in a beloved community space, and without time limits.

– Panels and workshops geared towards independent filmmakers

– Fun parties and after parties

Established in 2006, the Tacoma Film Festival was created and developed by the passionate individuals behind Tacoma's only non-profit art-house movie theater, The Grand Cinema. The Grand (TFF's primary venue) is one of the Puget Sound region's strongest outlets for both international and local independent filmmakers, and works hand-in-hand with the festival to connect our city to the art of film.

Best Narrative Feature- $1000

Best Documentary Feature $1000

Best Narrative Short- $750

Best Documentary Short- $750

Best Animation $250

Best Music Video- $250

Best Virtual Reality film $250

Best Pacific Northwest feature $500
Best Pacific Northwest short $500
Best Pierce County short or feature $500

Audience Choice Awards
Filmmakers not from the Pacific Northwest are eligible for these awards. Winners will be chosen based on audience votes.
Audience Choice, Feature $1000
Audience Choice, Short $750

PNW Audience Choice Awards
Pacific Northwest filmmakers are eligible for the PNW Choice Awards. Winners will be chosen based on audience votes.
Audience Choice, Pacific Northwest Feature $750
Audience Choice, Pacific Northwest Short $500

Additional awards:

Best Director, Documentary Feature $175
Best Director, Narrative Feature $175
Best Director, Documentary Short $150
Best Director, Narrative Short $150

Best Performance, Narrative Feature $150
Best Screenplay, Narrative Feature $150
Best Performance, Narrative Short $150
Best Screenplay, Narrative Short $150

Four awards for Best Cinematography (documentary feature and short films, and narrative feature and short films).

All awards except Audience Choice awards decided by a jury composed of filmmakers, film programmers, critics, and/or industry professionals.


1. Submission Deadline Structure
Submissions Open: December 15, 2018
Early Deadline: February 15, 2019
Regular Deadline: April 1, 2019
Late Deadline: May 1, 2019
Extended Deadline: June 21, 2019

2. Submission Format
Films must be submitted via secure online screener (Vimeo or YouTube) or via FilmFreeway online screening portal only.

3. Submission Eligibility
All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2018.

4. Premiere Status
- US Premiere status is preferred.
- Premiere status for Pacific Northwest films (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia) must have a Pierce County Premiere.

5. Selection of Films
- The Tacoma Film Festival will complete the selection process by August 1, 2019 and will contact all submitting parties by email with programming status at that time. Accepted films will receive a Filmmaker Welcome Packet via email that will include important information about DCP exhibition, “Host a Filmmaker” lodging program, press and publicity, guest accreditation, festival filmmaker liaison contact information and how to make the most of participation in the festival.
- The accepted film must be received by Simple DCP by 9/1/2019 to be played at the Tacoma Film Festival, October 3-10, 2019.
- The submitter is responsible for shipping or uploading the exhibition copy to Simple DCP in Culver City CA. TFF will pay domestic ground shipping only to return exhibition copies if applicable (no overnight or express). Non-ground or international shipping must be paid by the filmmaker.

6. DCP is Required for features and shorts*

WE REQUIRE DCP (Digital Cinema Package). Shorts must supply DCP and 1080p downloadable file backup, and features must supply either 1080p downloadable file or blu-ray backup. If you are not prepared to meet the DCP requirement, please do not submit your film. *(Music videos/VR submissions are not required to supply DCP).

We are proud to partner with Simple DCP exclusively for our film traffic and conversion needs. There are DCP software tools, both free and paid, and other houses that do similar work, but we highly recommend Simple DCP for a number of reasons.

Playback on DCP equipment is crucial when testing DCPs. Using an emulator can lead to color shifting and other errors that cannot be caught unless played in a real DCP environment.

Simple DCP reviews every second of film in a cinema environment and ensures that it is converted at the highest quality and problems are caught before the film arrives at the festival.

Another benefit of using Simple is that your film can be archived with the company for use with other partner festivals, saving on shipping and time.

You are not required to use Simple DCP - if you have an existing DCP from another house or have created one on your own you can submit it to Simple DCP via link and they will provide troubleshooting and quality control at no cost to you. If you need assistance with the process or questions about pricing, please contact Simple DCP at info@simpledcp.com.

7. Screening and Scheduling

The festival aspires to provide the best quality projection possible but will not be held liable for any failure in the technical quality of the projection, nor will fees be refunded in any such case. The Tacoma Film Festival assumes that the submitting party or filmmaker(s) or entrant(s) or print source company has insured for damage and loss of the festival print or tape.

Screenings are scheduled during the festival at the discretion of the Tacoma Film Festival. The Tacoma Film Festival also retains the right to run limited Press & Industry screenings the week leading up to the festival.
. Festival Promotion
Should your film be programmed, portions of your submitted material may be copied and utilized for the purpose of promoting your film. Upon submission, filmmakers grant the Tacoma Film Festival the right to use clips and press materials from the film for promotional purposes unless the filmmaker requests otherwise in writing.
- Please make a note in your submission if you have any connections to the Pacific Northwest region.
- Returning TFF alumni filmmakers’ entry fees are waived. To request a waiver, please include the film title and year it played in Tacoma and email us at info@tacomafilmfestival.com.
- Works in progress will automatically be disqualified.
- Industrials, promotional, or news report films will not be considered if submitted.
- Entry fees will not be refunded.

We provide waivers and/or discounts to the following:

TFF Alumni - if you’ve screened at TFF in the past, we will waive the submission fee.
Pacific Northwest Filmmakers - if your film was made in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or British Columbia or you have strong ties to the area, you may be eligible for a waiver.

Student Discount - we provide a $10 discount for students or student works (films made during matriculation) on presentation of current student ID or proof of enrollment during production of your film.

We do not provide waivers for any other types of submissions.
No phone inquiries, please. Please email us with questions: info@tacomafilmfestival. Thank you!


If a film obtains distribution after submission, TFF will have the right to screen the film at the festival without screening fee. TFF will place any such film in its respective category for competition.

By entering the Tacoma Film Festival, entrants release and hold the promoter and host and other contest entities harmless from and against any and all losses, damages, rights, claims and action of any kind arising in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from the festival. The Festival will handle the films with care but cannot be held liable for any damage or loss during the shipping, preview or screening. The Festival is not responsible for any claim involving copyright, trademark or royalty infringements related to the work. Applicants are responsible for their own insurance and are not covered by the festival's insurance.

On submission, the filmmaker grants The Festival the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes.

The individual or corporation submitting the film warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

The submitting filmmaker shall indemnify, defend, 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, expert witness 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.

Overall Rating
  • Bill Brown

    Such thoughtful, adventurous, & wonderfully engaging programming! Thank you, TFF!

    October 2019
  • Erik Fox

    I had an outstanding time! Everyone I met was fantastic, accommodating and passionate about what they did. I only wish my stay hadn't been so short!

    October 2019
  • Tacoma was such an amazing festival! From the curation of the films to the hosts that allowed us to stay with them to cut cost, every aspect of the festival was incredibly thoughtful and geared toward making even those visiting from out of town feel welcome and apart of the festivities. One of our favorite parts was getting to experience VR for the first time and we were completely blown away by the artistry of it all. The opening night film was shown at the Pantages theatre and was absolutely mind blowing. It really kicked off the whole festival with a bang. Oooh can't forget the filmmaker field trip to Pt. Defiance as well. Thank you Tacoma Film Festival for selecting Violent Water and for making us feel so at home! We will definitely submit again!

    October 2019
  • Ty Huffer

    This was my 2nd time screening a short at TFF. Each time it has been a wonderful experience. The host of my film block was wonderful and led a great Q&A. I will submit to TFF again!

    October 2019
  • Sirena Ross

    Wonderful and kind people celebrating the independent cinema. Communication was a bit garbled but they went out of their way to be helpful and patient. This was a wonderful first time experience.

    November 2018
    Tff logo teal fill no text
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for supporting TFF with your review!