15th Annual

San Diego Film Festival

September 28, 2016 to October 02, 2016

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Film Market
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2683 Via de la Valle
Suite G210
Del Mar CA 92014
Phone: (619) 818-2221

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON • Information may be outdated. Add this event to your Watch List and set a Remind-Me if you want to be notified when the next Call For Entries is posted.

From wild road-trip comedies to heart-felt dramas, this series of films is comprised of the freshest films from both established and emerging filmmakers. In order to be considered for the 2016 Features Program, films must be longer than 30 minutes.
Based on real life stories, our documentary film section aims to provide a vivid reflection of the world beyond our doors – taking audiences to places they might never have the chance to see, and introducing them to people they will be glad they got to know. In order to be considered, films must be produced after January 1, 2015. To qualify as a Documentary Feature, the submitted project must be a non-fiction film not including entirely scripted or improvised reenactments or fictional depictions of actual events. Documentaries may contain some dramatization of actual events. Films longer than 30 minutes may be considered. If accepted, the Programming Department will ultimately decide which category suits your project best.
Our shorts track is comprised of six short film programs (each program is comprised of approximately eight short films and runs 1.5 hours in length). We accept documentary, animated and experimental shorts in this category as well. In order to be considered, films must be produced after January 1, 2015.
Native American
Support of Native American filmmakers is part of the SDFF’s core mission and has an annual program spotlight that includes short and feature length narrative and documentary films. To be considered for the Native American category, the film must be directed, produced or co-produced by a Native American or explore a topic pertinent to Native American culture.
Animated Films
There are no limits on format. For filmmakers, there are no age limits or education requirements. Even animation industry professionals exploring the independent sector are eligible. If accepted, the programming department will ultimately decide which category suits your project best.
Submit in this category if you are a student (proof of current scholastic attendance required).
Please send in a copy of your school ID with your submission.
Films that honor our U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel by telling their stories, in order to help bring closure, create understanding and bridge the gap of empathy between the civilian community and our sailors, soldiers and airmen fostering the spirit of One Nation unified on the home front.
Social Justice
Using the power of film to tell transformational stories with lasting social impact and to create positive change in the world. The goal is to bring awareness to worldwide social issues. Issues can include, but are not limited to, homelessness, violence against women, LGBT+, Eco-Environmental, discrimination.


The San Diego Film Festival is an annual, world-class event established to showcase the best in new and classic cinema. It actively seeks to discover, promote and nurture cinema artists from around the globe and to support the development of a new generation of filmmaking talent.

The San Diego Film Festival encourages community engagement, film production, tourism and trade and celebrates San Diego's unique natural, artistic, academic and cultural resources in a truly international event.


The San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) is a place for the film professionals and film enthusiasts to engage, explore and discover new cinematic creativity in a fabulous environment. The SDFF is a competitive five-day festival for U.S. and international independent films and filmmakers held each fall at multiple “film village” locations including the vibrant downtown/Gaslamp district and the iconic beach community of La Jolla.

Founded in 2001 and expanded and revitalized by new leadership in 2012, the San Diego Film Festival executive team has a bold vision for the future; to create a Festival that is a major destination for independent filmmakers to share their art, further careers, refine their craft, and network with industry professionals. Films that have premiered at the San Diego Film Festival and which have been nominated for or won major awards include: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, THE IMITATION GAME, WILD, ST. VINCENT, WHIPLASH, MR. TURNER, SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ, I SMILE BACK, HE NAMED ME MALALA, ROOM and many more. Past filmmakers and celebrity attendees include Adrian Brody, Geena Davis, John Boyega, Brit Marling, Alan Arkin, Beau Bridges, Michelle Monaghan, Eli Roth, Josh Duhamel, Denise Haysbert, Judd Apatow, Mariel Hemingway, Michael B. Jordan, Gus Van Sant, Martin McDonagh, Anne Heche, Diane Ladd, Joaquin Phoenix, Richard Dreyfuss, William Shatner, James Woods and many more.

The slate of films selected offers a wide range of programming from creative narrative features to thought-provoking documentaries to engaging and enlightening short films. Topics in film we specifically cultivate include Women in film, Native American, film exploring the role of veterans and the Armed Forces, Student Film projects, Sports, Horror, Animation and World Cinema. SDFF offers filmmakers and audiences industry insights and access, educational panels, exciting discussion at intimate gatherings and opportunities to grow explore the art of cinema.

Awards & Prizes

The SDFF also offers hospitality benefits to our visiting filmmakers:
Filmmaker Hospitality and Awards
Filmmaker Benefits
• 2 Filmmaker Badges with full access to all screenings and events
• 5 Complimentary Tickets for the filmmaker's screening
• Filmmaker Brunch including networking with industry professionals
• Discounted accommodations for filmmakers
• Industry-oriented seminars and workshops
• Potential for one-on-one meetings with prominent entertainment industry professionals
• Complimentary admission for some of the leading tourist and cultural attractions in and around San Diego

Each year the Festival includes:
• 100+ films
• 100's of visiting filmmakers and entertainment industry leaders
• Sneak preview premieres of Oscar-worthy studio releases
• A Tribute evening & program to notable cinema actors and filmmakers
• Jury and Audience Awards in a multiple categories
• Multiple screening venues in and around the San Diego area
• Opening Night Premiere & after-party
• Friday Night party in the vibrant Downtown/Gaslamp District
• Saturday Night Filmmaker Awards

• Programming spotlights include: Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Shorts, Animated Films, World Cinema, Native American, Sports, Military, LGBT, Student, Women Filmmakers, Social Justice, Health, and Environmental Films.


The nonrefundable entry fee must be payable in US dollars to SAN DIEGO FILM FOUNDATION. Entries must be POSTMARKED by the deadline. Submission costs vary depending on category and discounts. When submitting to the festival you are agreeing that, if selected and the invitation accepted, to screen the submitted film during the dates of the festival. SDFF will not pay any screening fees for presentation of the film during the festival. The only exception would be if there is a negotiated agreement preceding the submission of the film to SDFF.

The SDFF is a competitive showcase for domestic and international feature films, documentaries and shorts. The SDFF reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any project submitted. All films must be a minimum of a San Diego Premiere and NO theatrical, cable, television, satellite, DVD, VHS, VOD, internet screenings or availability of any kind in the San Diego region prior to the SDFF dates. Only works completed in 2015 and 2016 are eligible for selection. There is no limit to the number of entries.

February 8, 2016 – Submissions open on all platforms.
March 18, 2016 (6pm PST, postmark) – Early Entry deadline for all categories.
May 13, 2016 (6pm EST, postmark) – Official Entry deadline for all categories.
June 10, 2016 (6pm EST, postmark) – Late Entry deadline for all categories.
June 24, 2016 (6pm PST, received by) – Extended Entry Deadline for all categories.
September 28 – October 2, 2015 – 14th Annual San Diego Film Festival (the “SDFF16″)
Note: Submissions may be in work-in-progress form; however, works that are not final cuts must be clearly marked “Work in Progress (WIP)” or “Rough Cut” with an indication of what will change or what is missing (e.g., temp sound, Avid output, missing animation, etc.) Also, due to the volume of submissions, only ONE physical replacement version (i.e. final cut) will be accepted and replacement copies will not be accepted after May 13, 2016 (unless solicited by the Festival).

Note: Entry fees are in U.S. Dollars, are per film and are non-refundable. The Festival reserves the right to disqualify a submission, without refund of any kind, if eligibility requirements are not met including if eligibility status changes post-submission.

All foreign language entries must have English subtitles. Projects must be submitted for consideration on DVD, BluRay or as an online screener. PAL format will not be accepted. Works in progress will be considered for the SDFF, provided they are completed no later than May 13, 2016. Works in progress will not be screened in the festival. Screening material, press and any application materials sent to SDFF will NOT be returned. If you did not receive a confirmation of submission, please email programming@sdfilmfest.com. All features and documentaries submitted must be available in BluRay and DCP for festival presentation.

The San Diego Film Festival is a competitive event and unless notified otherwise, all films officially selected are eligible for competition. For a list of competitive categories, please see our Awards page. All films are nominated and voted upon by an impartial jury of filmmakers, industry professionals, festival programmers and film aficionados.

If selected, the SDFF will require an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) to include high-resolution production stills, key art, bio and filmography of the director, production notes and full cast and crew credits.

Although every possible care will be taken with tapes, films, drives and files while in our possession, we cannot accept responsibility for loss or damage. Do not send original or master prints, tapes, files or drives. Please keep the SDFF notified of any address/phone number changes.

The cost of shipping all entries and films to the festival must be paid by the entrant. The SDFF will not pay the cost of shipping the print back to the filmmaker. SDFF will not be responsible for expedited or overnight shipping charges to other organizations. Also, SDFF cannot guarantee shipment of prints to other festivals during the days of the festival. All international entries must be sent 'free domicile' to the SDFF office with all transportation charges, duties, and taxes prepaid by the shipper.

Submission of an entry gives the SDFF permission to have excerpts of accepted work, including film trailers, shown in all promotional activities related to the festival.

Films selected for the SDFF will be notified no later than September 1, 2016.


I, the undersigned, acknowledge and agree that to the best of my ability, I am duly authorized to submit this film to the San Diego Film Festival (SDFF). I hold SDFF harmless from damage to or loss of the film media (prints, drives, files, etc.) en route due to improper containers or otherwise, and that I accept all of the submission regulations stated here. The SDFF is a competitive showcase for domestic and international feature films, documentaries and shorts. The SDFF reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any project submitted. All films must be San Diego Premieres. This means NO theatrical, cable, television, DVD, VHS, or internet screenings or availability of any kind in the San Diego region prior to the 2015 San Diego Film Festival. Unless it was deemed appropriate by the Head of the Programming Department. Only works completed in 2015 and 2016 are eligible for selection. There is no limit to the number of entries.