Anna Keizer
September 26, 2022

Guide to the Best Short Film Festivals

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Short film festivals offer an invaluable opportunity for filmmakers. Many may not have access to the resources often necessary to produce a feature film, but they can make a short. 

If that short then shows at the right short film festivals, it might just garner the exposure and connections that a filmmaker needs to take the next step in their career. 

If you have a completed short,  consider taking it out on the short film fest circuit. We’ve put together a comprehensive guide of the top film festivals for short films – both film festivals exclusive to short films and those with short categories.

Short films don’t often get significant notoriety in terms of broad distribution. However, they can become a filmmaker’s calling card or successful proof-of-concept for financial investment towards a feature version of the story.

Don’t sit on that short! Capitalize on your hard work and submit to these top film festivals for short films.

Top short film festivals

There’s no better place to start than events that cater specifically to short films.

Not only do these top short film festivals champion this specific medium, but also many of them have garnered the same prestige as their counterparts that cater primarily to feature films.

US-based short film festivals

We’re kicking off our list with the best film festivals for short films only that are located in the United States.

Midwest

Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Festival (Illinois)

Dates: November 11-12, 2022

The Windy City is an arts hub, and the Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Festival showcases the best in the short film storytelling format. We’re already two-thirds through the year, but there’s still time to submit for many short film festivals, including this one. 

Last Chance Deadline: October 6, 2022 

Deadline Fee: $55 (Short Film category)

Indy Shorts International Film Festival (Indiana) 

Dates: July 18-23, 2023

It’s never too soon to prepare for next year’s short film festivals. As many of the fests on this list indicate, it can very quickly get pricey if you miss the early submission deadline – even for shorts! So mark your calendar now to submit for the Indy Shorts International Film Festival.

Earlybird Deadline: December 18, 2022

Deadline Fee: $30 (Narrative Short category)

Northeast

Boston Short Film Festival (Massachusetts)

Dates: July 11-14, 2023

Summer is a popular time of year for the best short film festivals, including the Boston Short Film Festival. This particular event focuses on “the unconventional, the unusual, the underground, the intuitive, the innovative, the minimalistic, and the true artists of our time.” 

Not So Early Deadline: October 27, 2022

Deadline Fee: $25 (Narrative Short Film category)

Nitehawk Shorts Festival (New York)

Dates: March 1-5, 2023

Now is the perfect time to prepare your short film and materials for the Nitehawk Shorts Festival, one of the best short film festivals in New York. This wide-reaching event spotlights “short films in all forms (animation, documentary, narrative, non-narrative, artist films, music videos, horror) by local, national, and international filmmakers.”

Regular Deadline: November 28, 2022

Deadline Fee: $25 (General category)

Southeast

Atlanta ShortsFest (Georgia)

Dates: June 24-25, 2023 

Atlanta is a major entertainment production city, so it should come as no surprise that many creatives reside there with short films to screen. Whether you call The Big A your hometown or not, consider submitting to its Atlanta ShortsFest, which returns next June. Note that you still have time to submit before its early deadline!

Early Deadline Three: October 31, 2022

Deadline Fee: $20 (Narrative Short category)

West

Arizona Short Film Festival (Arizona)

Dates: May 27-28, 2023

The western United States is home to many of the top film festivals for short films, but they’re not all in California! Case in point, the Arizona Short Film Festival, which is accepting submissions for its next event coming up in May 2023.

Extended Deadline: October 18, 2022

Deadline Fee: $35 (Best Short Film category)

Aspen Shortsfest (Colorado)

Dates: April 10-15, 2023 

Aspen Shortsfest isn’t just one of the top short film festivals; it is considered far and wide an exceptional film festival, period. This prestigious event comes with stiff competition, but we encourage you to throw your short into the mix before its next deadline!

Regular Deadline: October 5, 2022

Deadline Fee: $80 (Drama category) 

Hollyshorts Film Festival (California)

Dates: August 10-19, 2023 

Hollyshorts Film Festival has been going strong for nearly 20 years, and between its longevity and location in Hollywood, it is a highly anticipated event for the quality of its short film programming each season.

Earlybird Deadline: February 3, 2023 

Deadline Fee: $45 (Short Live Action category)

Hollywood Comedy Shorts (California)

Dates: April 27-29, 2023

Cousin to Hollyshorts is the Hollywood Comedy Shorts. As its name implies, this event is one of the best film festivals for shorts within the comedy genre. Dark comedy, rom com, cringe comedy, horror comedy, they want it all!

Earlybird Deadline: December 2, 2022

Deadline Fee: $35 (Dark Comedy category)

LA Shorts International Film Festival (California)

Dates: July 2023 (specific dates TBA)

That’s right, folks. We still haven’t left Los Angeles. But you shouldn’t either if you haven’t yet submitted to the LA Shorts International Film Festival! This esteemed event, which has been highlighting the best in short film for more than 25 years, should be on your submission short list for next year.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. January 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Los Angeles Short Film Festival (California)

Dates: March 11-12, 2023

Rounding out our LA-based short film festivals  is the Los Angeles Short Film Festival. As the event notes, “Film festivals are still the best place to screen independent work and get it noticed.” It is currently accepting submissions for its March 2023 event.

Late Deadline, Phase 1: October 31, 2022

Deadline Fee: $30 (Short of Any Genre category)

McMinnville Short Film Festival (Oregon)

Dates: February 23-26, 2023

The best short film festivals aren’t just about showcasing your work; it’s also about making meaningful connections with others in the industry. That’s exactly what you’ll find at the McMinnville Short Film Festival, which prides itself on celebrating and bringing together the filmmaking community.

Regular Deadline: October 1, 2022  

Deadline Fee: $45 (Drama category)

Oakland Short Film Festival (California)

Dates: March 30, 2023

We’re back to California! But LA isn’t the only town with the top short film festivals. Oakland Short Film Festival’s goal of creating “a festival where independent short films of all genres and countries of origin get the recognition they deserve” makes it an event that every short filmmaker should consider for their projects.

Regular Deadline: October 2, 2022

Deadline Fee: $35 (Best Short Film category)

Oregon Short Film Festival (Oregon) 

Dates: February 19, 2023

Unlike the other best film festivals for shorts that we’ve covered so far, the Oregon Short Film Festival gives filmmakers multiple chances throughout the year to have their work shown. This seasonal event, which is part of the larger Film Festival Circuit, offers winter, summer, and fall showcases for filmmakers and film lovers. 

Regular Deadline: November 30, 2022

Deadline Fee: $49 (Drama Film of 6-30 Minutes category)

Palm Springs International ShortFest (California)

Dates: June 20-26, 2023

The Palm Springs International ShortFest is cousin to the illustrious Palm Springs International Film Festival and is no less impactful for the filmmakers who are accepted into this event. You have several weeks before its early bird deadline, but don’t wait on getting your project together for this must-enter festival. 

Earlybird Deadline: November 1, 2022

Deadline Fee: $40 (Live Action category)

Salute Your Shorts Festival (California)

Dates: August 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Remember when we mentioned the benefits of making connections through the film festival circuit? Salute Your Shorts Festival emphasizes that “community is one of our core values and thus selected filmmakers are adopted into our filmmaking family.” Reason enough to enter.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. November 2022 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

San Jose International Short Film Festival (California)

Dates: October 20-23, 2022

Last on our list of the top film festivals for short films only within the United States is the San Jose International Short Film Festival. This event has categories for short live action, comedy, family shorts, documentary, sci-fi, and thriller/suspense, so no matter your film’s genre, there’s a place for it at this fest. 

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. December 2022 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

International short film festivals

Want to see how your film resonates with audiences outside the United States? We’ve got you covered! Learn more about the best film festivals for shorts across the globe.

Americas

Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival / Festival Curta Cinema (Brazil)

Dates: December 1-5, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic threw many of the best short film festivals for a loop, and the Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival is no exception. Back from its hiatus, though, this event that celebrates exclusively short films returns this December. 

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. Please check back to the Festival Curta website for updated information on future events in the coming months.

Toronto Shorts International Film Festival (Canada)

Dates: December 8-11, 2022

The Toronto Shorts International Film Festival says what all short filmmakers think: “We feel that short-form cinema and its creators should have their own premier film festival in Toronto deserving similar recognition given to the feature film and its creators.” Given the way this event champions short films and their makers, why wouldn’t you want to submit? 

Late Deadline: October 21, 2022

Deadline Fee: $77 (International Shorts category)

Australia/Oceania

Show Me Shorts Film Festival (New Zealand)

Dates: October 7-30, 2022

As if anyone needs an excuse to go to New Zealand, right? This globally known event, which has been going strong for 17 years, makes it a point to celebrate both New Zealand filmmakers and those from the rest of the world.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. January 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Europe

Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival (France)

Dates: January 27-February 4, 2023

Many of the best film festivals for shorts mentioned so far are maybe 10 to 20 years old. Not bad for events that showcase only shorts. But the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023! The deadline for next January’s event is still several months away, so make sure to submit – for free. 

Deadline: October 3, 2022 (for films completed in 2022 only)

Deadline Fee: FREE!

Curtas Vila do Conde – International Film Festival (Portugal)

Dates: July 8-16, 2022

Another heavy hitter on the short film circuit, the Curtas Vila do Conde – International Film Festival, is already accepting submissions for next summer’s event. This particular fest has more relaxed requirements; filmmakers can submit shorts up to sixty minutes that are animated, documentaries, fiction films, experimental, or music videos.

Early Deadline: December 31, 2022 

Deadline Fee: $12.11 (International Competition category)

DokuFest (Kosovo)

Dates: August 2023 (specific dates TBA)

DokuFest is an event that celebrates many types of creators – narrative filmmakers, documentarians, and musicians. This celebration of all things artistic has been highlighting the best of film and music for more than 20 years.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. November 2022 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Encounters Film Festival (Great Britain)

Dates: September 27-October 2, 2022

For a quarter of a century, the Encounters Film Festival has been screening the best in short film from around the world. Given the event’s mission to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers, it’s a fest to consider for any creative just starting their professional careers.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. November 2022 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur (Switzerland)

Dates: November 8-13, 2022

What sets the best short film festivals apart from the rest is the recognition that the short movie medium is its own unique artform. That’s exactly how the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur promotes its event dedicated to short films. Like several of the international events mentioned so far, this fest is free to submit to, so add it to your list.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. Please check back to the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur website for updated information on future events in the coming months.

Leuven International Short Film Festival (Belgium)

Dates: December 2-10, 2022

Many of the best short film festivals run for just a few days given the shorter run times that take up less space on the schedule. This makes the Leuven International Short Film Festival, which is a full week, all the more impressive for the numerous short movies they highlight.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. February 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

ShorTS International Film Festival (Italy)

Dates: July 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Another fest with a 20-year history of showcasing great short films, the ShorTS International Film Festival also has a program with shorts geared specifically towards the under 15-crowd. Have a short that’s kid-friendly? Submit it to the ShorTS International Film Festival! 

The 2023 film festival dates, ShorTS IFF submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to the ShorTS IFF website for updated information in the coming months.

Shortynale (Austria)

Dates: August 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Europe is home to many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, but as this list indicates, it’s also home to some of the best venues that specifically celebrate short film! Shortynale is part of that list. Add it to yours for next year’s showcase of great short storytelling.

The 2023 film festival dates, Shortynale submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to the Shortynale website for updated information in the coming months.

Tampere Film Festival (Finland)

Dates: March 8-12, 2023

Did you know there’s a film festival dedicated solely to showcasing short films that’s been around for over 50 years? The Tampere Film Festival has built a much-deserved reputation for its devotion to this medium, and its 53rd event is coming up next March.

Regular Deadline: October 31, 2022

Deadline Fee: $11.10 (International Competition category)

Vienna Shorts (Austria)

Dates: June 1-6, 2023 

The final entry for the best film festivals for shorts only is Vienna Shorts. For nearly twenty years, it has made its focus short films. Impressively, this fest highlights close to 300 works by short filmmakers, providing a substantial platform for creatives who work in this medium.

Regular Deadline: January 5, 2023

Deadline Fee: $15.14 (Fiction & Documentary - International Competition category)

Best film festivals for shorts

If you have a short film, you don’t have to limit yourself to short-only film festivals. In fact, many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals cater to both feature and short filmmakers and can provide great exposure for those in the latter category.

US-based film festivals for short films

All right, below is a cross-section of film festivals in the United States that – while not exclusive to short films – offer short film categories for creatives with qualifying projects.

Midwest

The Chicago International Film Festival (Illinois)

Dates: October 12-23, 2022

We’re heading back to the Midwest and one of its most renown events: The Chicago International Film Festival. For close to 60 years, this Windy City institution has been providing a stage for short filmmakers.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. January 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Northeast

New Directors/New Films (New York)

Dates: April 2023 (specific dates TBA)

The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has put a spotlight on all things creative for more than 60 years. New Directors/New Films, which is produced by Film at Lincoln Center, is a must for any short filmmaker wanting to showcase their work in the Big Apple.

The 2023 film festival dates, New Directors/New Films submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to the New Directors/New Films website for updated information in the coming months.

New York Film Festival (New York)

Dates: September 30-October 16, 2022

Film at Lincoln Center offers multiple opportunities for short filmmakers. New Directors/New Films is one of those opportunities, and the New York Film Festival is another. This event, which is closing in on its 60th year, offers incredible exposure for any short filmmaker whose project is accepted into its programming schedule.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. March 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Tribeca Festival (New York)

Dates: June 7-18, 2023

New York is second to none when it comes to the number of events in this city that celebrate film. The Tribeca Festival, co-founded by none other than Robert De Niro, is yet another Big Apple event that gives space and exposure to short filmmakers from around the world.

Early Deadline: November 30, 2022

Deadline Fee: $50 (Shorts category)

Southeast

Atlanta Film Festival (Georgia)

Dates: April 20-30, 2023

Atlanta’s reputation as a hub of entertainment activity makes it an ideal spot for one of the nation’s best film festivals for short films. The Atlanta Film Festival, which is going into its 47th year, “actively strives to be an inclusive showcase with spotlights on filmmakers of color, LGBTQ+ films, women and gender nonconforming filmmakers, and filmmakers from the American South.”

Late Deadline: November 3, 2022

Deadline Fee: $65 (Narrative Short category)

Nashville Film Festival (Tennessee) 

Dates: September 29-October 5, 2022

Not to be outdone is the Nashville Film Festival, which will be holding its 53rd event this fall. As the oldest film festival in the South, NashFilm “discovers, elevates, and honors filmmakers, screenwriters, and music makers from around the world while engaging, connecting, and strengthening the community.”

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. January 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Richmond International Film Festival (Virginia)

Dates: September 26-October 1, 2023

Who knew that the American Southeast had so many of the best film festivals for shorts? This time, we’re heading to Virginia for the Richmond International Film Festival. Among its short categories are Narrative Short Film, Documentary Short Film, Experimental Short Film, and Animated Short Film. G This festival gives short filmmakers of every genre an opportunity to showcase their work through this event.

Regular Deadline: October 15, 2022

Deadline Fee: $55 (Narrative Short Film category)

Southwest

Austin Film Festival (Texas)

Dates: October 27-November 3, 2022

The Austin Film Festival is among the best short film festivals in the United States, and one of two located in Austin that made our list. Like Atlanta, Austin is known as a city for creatives – “Keep Austin Weird” anyone? – so be sure to consider this event that celebrates filmmakers of all kinds on your to-enter list.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. December 2022 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

SXSW Film Festival (Texas)

Dates: March 10-19, 2023

You can’t have a list of the best film festivals for short films without the SXSW Film Festival. Also located in Austin, this event has been providing a platform for filmmakers and their projects since its first fest all the way back in 1987.

Official Deadline: October 4, 2022

Deadline Fee: $55 (Short Film category)

West

Slamdance Film Festival (Utah) 

Dates: January 19-26, 2023

The Slamdance Film Festival no longer stands in the shadow of the Sundance Film Festival – if it ever did. So why is it one of the best film festivals for shorts? This event has “created a track record for showcasing breakthrough artists that is beyond dispute.” They’re not wrong, so see for yourself how this event can be a game-changer for your career.

Extended Deadline: October 3, 2022

Deadline Fee: $80 (Narrative Shorts category)

Sundance Film Festival (Utah)

Dates: January 19-29, 2023

Many consider Sundance to be one of the best film festivals for shorts in the entire world. For over forty years, this event has put a spotlight on the most innovative cinema from indie filmmakers.

All deadlines for the 2023 film festival have passed. August 2023 is the estimated opening period for the next submission cycle.

Telluride Film Festival (Colorado)

Dates: September 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Our final entry for the best short film festivals in the United States is the Telluride Film Festival. For close to 50 years, this event has seen filmmakers and film lovers converge upon this ski resort town to watch groundbreaking storytelling – including shorts – from artists around the world.

The 2023 film festival dates, Telluride Film Festival submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to the Telluride Film Festival website for updated information in the coming months.

International film festivals for short films

Americas

Toronto International Film Festival (Canada)

Dates: September 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Many of the best short film festivals can be found outside the United States, such as the Toronto International Film Festival. This event offers both Canadian Shorts and International Shorts categories, giving creatives from anywhere around the world the opportunity to have their works screened at it. 

The 2023 film festival dates, Toronto International Film Festival submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to TIFF’s website for updated information in the coming months.

Europe

American Film Festival (Poland)

Dates: November 8-13, 2022

We’re crossing the Atlantic once more and heading back to Europe to highlight some of the best film festivals for shorts. This time, we’re starting off with… the American Film Festival? You read that right. It’s a film festival hosted in Poland that specifically showcases American filmmakers and their works.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. Please check back to the American Film Festival website for updated information on future events in the coming months.

Berlin Film Festival (Germany)

Dates: February 16-26, 2023

The greater the notoriety, the greater the competition. The prestigious Berlin Film Festival can be a career-making event for any short filmmaker. Submissions are due mid-November, so don’t delay yours! 

Deadline: November 16, 2022

Deadline Fee: $73.79 (Shorts category)

BFI London Film Festival (Great Britain) 

Dates: October 5-16, 2022

London is an epicenter for fashion, theater, and culture, so it stands to reason that its BFI London Film Festival would be on our list of the best short film festivals. Though this year’s event is no longer taking submissions, as we’ve already mentioned, this offers the perfect opportunity to make sure your project is ready once it opens once more.

All deadlines for the 2022 film festival have passed. Please check back to the BFI London Film Festival website for updated information on future events in the coming months.

Cannes Film Festival (France)

Dates: May 16-27, 2023

This is likely no greater stage for a filmmaker than the Cannes Film Festival. Yes, it is a hugely competitive event, but it can change the trajectory of any short filmmaker’s career should they get into this best of the best film festivals for shorts.

The 2023 submission deadlines and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to the Cannes Film Festival website for updated information in the coming months.

Edinburgh International Film Festival (Scotland) 

Dates: August 2023 (specific dates TBA)

Here we have both one of the best short film festivals and one of the oldest. The Edinburgh International Film Festival clocks in at 75 years old and prides itself on being “intimate in scale and ambitious in its artistic scope,” which is reflected in its emphasis on animated and experimental short films.

The 2023 film festival dates, Edinburgh International Film Fesetival submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to EIFF’s website for updated information in the coming months.

Raindance Film Festival (Great Britain)

Dates: October 25-November 4, 2023

We’re traveling back to Great Britain and its Raindance Film Festival, which is the largest independent film festival in the UK. This particular event makes our list of the best short film festivals in part on account of its diverse category offerings, which include Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Animation Short, and Queer Short.

Earlybird Deadline: April 10, 2023

Deadline Fee: $32.67 (Narrative Short category)

Venice Film Festival (Italy)

Dates: September 2023 (specific dates TBA)

We have arrived at the last of our best short film festivals, the Venice Film Festival. Like Cannes, Berlin, and Sundance, this event is widely anticipated each year and known around the world for its stellar lineup of films. Certainly an event that can quickly propel a filmmaker’s career forward, the Venice Film Festival is a fest to strongly consider during your fest run.

The 2023 film festival dates, Venice Film Fesetival submission deadlines, and submission fees have not yet been published as of now. Please check back to VFF’s website for updated information in the coming months.

Wrapping up 

And there you have it – the best short film festivals from around the world.

Whether you decide to submit to short-specific events, just those close to home, or every single event we listed, the only wrong choice is not giving your film a chance at all.

These events can provide a pivotal opportunity to share your work with the greater film community and meet others in the industry, so don’t wait for someone to ask to see your movie. Plan your film fest run today so that in the weeks and months to come you too can showcase your short film through these top film festivals for short films.

Got a feature film you want to submit? Check out what fests to submit to, and no matter what, make sure you know how to best prepare for your film fest run. 

Good luck with your short! We can’t wait to see you at the festival.

Disclaimer

At Wrapbook, we pride ourselves on providing outstanding free resources to producers and their crews, but this post is for informational purposes only as of the date above. The content on our website is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for legal, accounting, or tax advice.  You should consult with your own legal, accounting, or tax advisors to determine how this general information may apply to your specific circumstances.

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About the Author

Anna Keizer

Anna Keizer originally hails from the Chicagoland area. After receiving her B.A. in Film/Video from Columbia College Chicago, she moved to California and finished her M.A. in Film Studies from Chapman University. She has also graduated from UCLA’s Writing for Television Professional Program and is currently in post-production on the short She Had It Coming, which she wrote and is executive producing.

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