20th Annual

Washington DC Independent Film Festival

March 01, 2019 to March 10, 2019

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Film Market
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1435 Holly Street NW
Washington DC 20012
Phone: 2023381198

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON • Information may be outdated.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.

DCIFF defines Feature Films as fiction films between 41 mins and 120 mins. (though we have shown films that are over 2 hours). We are equally interested in the lyrical, the dramatic, the amusing, the ironic, the symbolic, the unexpected, the beautiful and conversations. We reserve one or two spots for our Horror Night held in honor of the important role the genre has in forwarding independent filmmakers. 2019 is our twentieth anniversary and we have an extended festival and added activities and programs.
Short (includes experimental)
DCIFF defines a short as a fiction film 30 minutes or less in length. However, if your film is 30 - 40 minutes in length, it will be considered. The festival welcomes all content except adult films.
Experimental and art films are programmed in the experimental category. We are are known for holding one Fright Night Horror Film Extravaganza every year. If your film mixes genres, it is best to put this in the Short Category.

If you are a student with a Valid Student ID, you would do best to apply through the student film category at WAB (although there is no student category when it comes to awards).
Animation is a central part of DCIFF as it is an area of immense creativity and innovation in independent film-making. We welcome animation submissions from 2 minutes to 90 minutes and all genres (we consider X-Rated animation for late night screenings). The festival does not have a dedicated family or children's section but our selection committee loves animation that appeals to the child in us all. We encourage experimental and animated art films as well as narrative animated films. We are honored to have screened animated films that have been nominated for or won Oscars.
DCIFF seeks innovative documentaries on any topic. We like to take conceptual risks, we love aesthetics and we pay attention to the craft of documentary filmmaking. We often screen films that are concerned with music. art and culture. As we screen in Washington DC we have a section of 3-4 films called Poli-Docs dedicated to politically controversial and important issues topics. We have documentaries in competition for both feature length and short documentary films.

The festival has generally screened at least one documentary about music each year. DCIFF normally presents about 5 feature length documentaries and up to 15 documentaries of 30 minutes in length or less. In 2012 and 2014, documentaries won Best of Fest.

Please note that the student category is for submissions only, There is no student category for programming at the festival. Student films are screened alongside other films. So student films may belong to any of the other categories: feature, short, animation, documentary and experimental. The only exception to this is work created while in High School as there is a separate category for this.

To qualify as a student film, you MUST be a CURRENT STUDENT with a Valid ID (you must submit a copy of your ID with your submission with current dates on the card). If your card does not have dates, you must submit a statement/evidence from your school that you are enrolled. These can be scanned and attached to your online Withoutabox submission.

DCIFF expects most student submissions to be shorts (up to 20 mins.) If you are submitting a feature film, please submit this under the Features category where there is a Student Fee rate as well.
High School Students (age 18 and under)
Since 2014, DCIFF has decided to honor the incredible creativity and talent that we see in films made by filmmakers before they have left school. This separate category means that submissions are not selected against seasoned filmmakers with good equipment and oodles of experience, but are judged in a category alone and screened in a special, competitive sidebar judged by industry professionals. Attending filmmakers get to take part in the full festival.
Out of Competition (up to 30 mins)
We have a small non-competitive sections in the areas of documentary and experimental films. We still require you to pay a small submission fee for this and fill in the submission form for us to review your film. In this case YOUR FILM DOES NOT HAVE TO BE COMPLETED in 2017. We will be looking for topics that are volatile, artistically cutting edge, technologically innovative and/or quite unexpected.
Out of Competition (over 30 mins)
We have a small non-competitive sections in the area of documentary and experimental films. We still require you to pay a small submission fee for this and fill in the submission form. In this case your film does not have to be completed after September 2017. We will be looking for topics that are volatile, artistically cutting edge, technologically innovative and/or quite unexpected - and filmmaker interest in working with DCIFF to assure a successful screening.
Series Pilot or Episode
We realize these pilots or series episodes may well have online lives already and we will not require Metro DC Premiere status in this category. If selected, we will ask filmmakers to attend the festival with one or two cast members ready for a table reading of another proposed episode, a discussion of the larger series, or some other engaging interactive program with the audience.


The Washington DC Independent Film Festival (dciff-indie.org) : "The festival that brings independent film culture to Washington, DC" (Washington Post) showcases independent film from around the world as well as sections devoted to; Metro DC filmmakers, political/issue documentaries, animation and high school students. DCIFF presents world premieres, award-winning features, shorts, animation, experimental films and documentaries by local, national and international filmmakers. We showcase new ideas, formats and styles. Our festival is a celebration of community and creativity, an engaging experience for audiences and a window of opportunity for the filmmakers. We are fiercely independent... but we work for everyone's benefit with mainstream media.

The festival's goal is to help filmmakers find a place in the marketplace through effective screenings, intensive outreach online and to the traditional press and long term support. The festival hosts workshops and seminars for filmmaker professional development. Unique to DCIFF, the Independent Film Summit on the Hill, held yearly since 2006, lets filmmakers meet with government representatives to discuss the issues which specifically address our industry such as taxes, avatars, drones and films as public diplomacy. The 2019 focus is the legal and economic realities of online distribution.

DCIFF2019 is the festival's twentieth year. We continue to expand animation, experimental and art film offerings. The festival also has a strong music component and we welcome fiction and documentary films about musicians and music. We are known for our strong documentaries which we screen with a panel discussion.

Films are selected through the submission process, rather than by invitation (with the exception of honorees or VIPs) or by visits to other film festivals. Submissions are reviewed by people with media experience and semi-finalists are then viewed by the festival programmer. We require all films to be Metro DC premieres. We work with dedication to deserve filmmaker trust in our process and our event. Let us know if there are any issues with the submissions. DCIFF is a 100% volunteer-run festival and ALL submission dues go towards programming and outreach. We try to keep our submission fees reasonable and, accordingly, we rarely offer fee waivers.


Founded in 1999, the Washington, DC Independent Film Festival annually showcases up to 70 local and international features, shorts, animations, and documentaries including many World Premieres as well as Oscar-nominated films. Recently we have been honored to welcome such talents as Jorge Saralegui, Les Blank, Harry Shearer, Keifer Sutherland, Jean-Marc Barr, Q'orianka Kilcher, Annet Mahrendru and Timothy Busfield. We have a reputation as a strong launching pad for first feature films and animated shorts.

DCIFF is the only festival that brings its filmmakers to Congress to meet and discuss film-related economic and legal issues (e.g. crowdfunding, avatars, drone cameras, film tax laws, online music rights) with members of Congress. The Washington, DC Independent Film Festival also hosts veteran independent filmmakers, focused professional seminars and interactive film events. Often there are "Film Sessions" (where several films and Question and Answers with the filmmakers are presented in a 2-3 hour session).

Finally, the festival partners with many organizations and institutions to assure great events: screenings at The World Bank, The Washington National Cathedral and the Voice of America Building and in partnerships with The Smithsonian Institution. In all cases, the festival strives to assure a quality projection and sound experience for both the filmmaker and the audience. The films compete for category-based audience awards and one Grand Jury Award. The high school film competition and the animation section are independently juried. Winners receive financial and promotional support when and if available.


Deirdre Evans-Pritchard (Executive Director)


Non-refundable submission fees: if not paying online via credit card, please make your checks or money orders, (or International money orders, for foreign countries) payable to: DC Independent Film Festival,. Your submission will be marked as in consideration once we have received payment and your submission copy.

Checklist for the submissions to the DCIFF (these materials will NOT be returned):

* Completed online entry form.
* Non-refundable entry fee
* Properly labeled DVD or Blu-Ray(on the box and the disc itself) with WAB Tracking ID, title of the film, name of the director and length.
*Although a full press kit is not necessary, we do request the following elements with your entry form:

1) jpeg photo of production.
2) jpeg photo of the director.
3) Director's bio.

In the Withoutabox Cover Letter Section, please indicate if you have sent the required elements via email to filmmakers@dciff.org (please write the film title in the subject line of the e-mail) or if these elements are available in your Withoutabox online Press Kit (free and easy to use!).

Thank you.

You MUST be a DCIFF Alum (meaning that your film had been accepted and screened at a previous DC Independent Film Festival) in order to qualify for the No Entry Fee for Earlybird submission and the discounted fee for regular submission for all DCIFF Alumni. Please email the year your film screened and the title to dciffsubmissions@gmail.com, otherwise your film will not be put into consideration and reviewed.

By submitting to the festival, the filmmaker(s) acknowledges that no film accepted for screening in competition at DCIFF may be withdrawn without the express written permission of DCIFF given in DCIFF sole discretion. There are no exceptions to this rule even in the case of technical issues. In the event a screening print is not delivered, DCIFF reserves the right to screen publicly the DVD or VHS submission. This being said, we hope and expect to resolve all and any issues without incident with you, the filmmakers.

Thank you submitting to DCIFF 2015

Keywords: DC, Indie, DC Indie Film Fest, DC Independent


Legal Information
Terms of Submission

* I am authorized to submit this film to the DC Independent Film Festival for consideration and have read, understood and agreed to all entry requirements.
* I release DCIFF from all responsibility for any and all film loss or damage.
* All of the above information and statements are accurate. I promise to contact DCIFF immediately regarding any changes to the information above, including Premiere status of my film or exhibition format. Failure to provide complete and updated information or failure to submit an exhibition copy of my film by the communicated deadlines may cause the elimination of my film from competition.
* All rights and permissions are in place for my submission (it is the sole responsibility of the applicant to obtain any and all necessary rights and permissions).
* By submitting my film for consideration, I grant permission to DCIFF to use any portion of my film and related materials for promotion in all media, including DCIFF catalogues, flyers, posters and the DCIFF website.
* I am DULY authorized to submit this film to the DC Independent Film Festival and its competition ("DCIFF") and I have read, understood and agreed to all entry requirements.
* I UNDERSTAND AND AGREE that IF THIS FILM IS ACCEPTED for screening in competition at the DCIFF and once it has been programmed online that this film MAY NOT BE WITHDRAWN WITHOUT EXPRESS WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE DCIFF. THE DCIFF RESERVES SOLE DISCRETION TO SCREEN THIS AND ALL FILMS ACCEPTED TO COMPETITION. There are no exceptions to this rule even in the case of technical issues. In the event that a screening print of this film is not TIMELY delivered, DCIFF reserves the right to screen publicly the VHS or DVD submission tape..
* I understand that if this film is accepted in competition, DCIFF will check to see if it is available to the general public online for free. If DCIFF finds that it is available online for free then DCIFF will request that the film be removed until after the film is screened at DCIFF. If the film is not removed as requested, DCIFF reserves the right to remove the film from competition.
This being said we hope to work with filmmakers to resolve all issues. Thank you.