35th Annual

Black Maria Film Festival

February 04, 2016 to November 08, 2016

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Film Market
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c/o Media Arts Department, Fries Hall
New Jersey City University
2039 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City NJ 07305
Phone: 201 200 2043

OPEN CALL FOR ENTRIES • Select a Category of Entry to continue.

Global Insights
The Black Maria Film Festival welcomes work to be considered for the Global Insights Stellar Award - films that focus on the environment, people with disabilities, and/or issues of social justice.
ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
The Black Maria Film Festival's 35th Anniversary Tour commencing in February 2016, has instituted a new submissions category to encompass films that include closed-captioning. The festival jury will judge all films designated in this entry category separately on their individual merits. Closed-captioned films chosen by the jury for the festival tour will be made available to host sites upon request.



Since 1981, the mission of the Black Maria Film Festival has been to promote, illuminate, and advocate innovation in the art of the moving image. The festival has passionately embraced this mission for the past thirty-three years, and is named after the world's first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison, where he made all of his own short experimental films. Moviemaker's Spring 2010 issue lists the Black Maria Film Festival as one of "25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee."


The Black Maria Film Festival annually conducts an international juried competition followed by a multi-month tour of the award-winning works to cultural centers, museums, colleges, and other arts venues across the nation and abroad thus fulfilling its mission to advocate, exhibit and reward diverse short works. Following the jurying process conducted by highly-qualified experts in the field of film curation, media studies and production, the festival launches its national tour in February, traveling to states coast to coast.

The festival was initiated over three decades ago at the world's first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison at his West Orange, NJ labs a short distance from Manhattan. The 1893 studio was nicknamed the Black Maria because it was reminiscent of the police paddy wagons of the time. It had a hinged roof and rotated on a circular wooden track, allowing the building to follow the sun and illuminate the stage within. The Black Maria studio is an important landmark from the dawn of moving pictures. Acrobats, strong men, vaudeville performers, actors and dancers, sharpshooter Anne Oakley, Buffalo Bill, and dancer Annabelle Whitford, were all invited to the Black Maria to be filmed.

Today the works exhibited by the Black Maria Film Festival represent a mosaic of diverse forms including documentary, experimental/alternative, animation, fiction, dance, and hybrids with an emphasis on personal, poetic, human interest and otherwise insightful, creative and varied approaches to any given subject or genre. The festival tour exhibits the winning works in various thematic and artistic configurations tailored to diverse audiences at the host venues, which are conducive to the genuine appreciation of the work.

The festival’s artistic vision includes our commitment to present programs in person, hosted by either the director or associates of the festival, such as highly qualified trustees, filmmakers, film scholars, and jurors. The purpose of in-person presentation is to facilitate the full appreciation of the work through interactive dialogue with the audience. Most tour programs are approximately 90 minutes long and are curated from the award winners by the festival in conjunction with representatives from the host institutions. Comprehensive program booklets with descriptions of all the works in the annual collection are offered to each host venue to accompany screenings. The booklet is offered to each host site digitally, and is posted on the festival website www.blackmaria.org, as part of the festival’s green initiative.

The Black Maria Film Festival has received grants from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has been featured on National Public Radio, and has received awards for excellence from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts for the past eight years.

Following it's annual premiere at NJ City University just across the Hudson from NYC, the festival travels to notable venues including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC; the American University of Rome; Des Moines Art Center; Edison-Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers, FL; Pittsburgh Filmmakers; Savannah College of Art and Design; University of Colorado-Boulder; University of Oregon; Rhode Island School of Design; University of the Arts in Philadelphia; Alabama Filmmakers' Coop; Upstate Films, Rhinebeck, NY and many more.


Jane Steuerwald (Executive Director)


Submission restrictions:

The Black Maria Film Festival is primarily a showcase for short works. We do not accept any films over 60 minutes in length. If you have a feature length film you wish us to consider, you MUST be prepared to provide a cut with a maximum running time of 60 minutes NO LATER THAN DECEMBER 1ST, 2015.

June 1 through September 1, 2015 - Early Deadline
September 2 through Oct. 1, 2015 - Late Deadline
October 1, 2015 - Final Deadline for entries

There is a separate fee for each work entered. ENTRY FEES ARE NOT WAIVED.


Highly qualified pre-screening reviewers evaluate all entries in their entirety in preparation for the jury panel. Each film is viewed by a minimum of three pre-screening reviewers. A number of films are eliminated through the pre-screening process, and the balance go on to the jury panel.

A new jury panel is convened each season. In November, the panel views the films, and determines and assigns all awards. Following, and in cooperation with the jury's decisions, the festival director selects films to be included in the annual tour. Awards and selections for the festival tour are announced in December prior to the festival premiere in February.

Selection of awards and films included in the tour is based on the sole discretion of the jury panel and the festival director.

Selection Notification:

You will be notified of the selections for the 35th Anniversary Festival Tour - 2016, by the beginning of December 2015. If you submit your work for review on-line, the link must not expire until after you are notified of the jury panel's selections.


RIGHTS GRANTED By submitting a work for consideration (a Work), entrant hereby grants the Festival the following non-exclusive, irrevocable rights: To curate and assemble the Work into traveling programs to be exhibited and publicly-performed in the Festivals extended, national annual tour through January 2017; To compile the Work into format groupings (e.g., short, animation, documentary) on a DVD or Blu-ray, or appropriate media for projection; To exhibit and publicly-perform portions of the Work, as selected by the Festival, on the Festivals website; To use and display the names, voices, photographs, likenesses, and biographies of the entrant and the Works director and producer for advertising, publicizing, and promoting the Works in any media now or hereafter known throughout the universe; and To use, publicly display, and publicly perform moving images and stills from the Works for advertising, publicizing, and promoting the Works in any media now or hereafter known throughout the universe. REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES Entrant hereby represents and warrants that as of the submission of this Entry Form and at all times thereafter: Entrant has all requisite power, authority, and approvals to sign this Entry Form and grant the rights granted in this Entry Form; Entrant has all right, title, and interest in and to the Work for the purposes outlined in this Entry Form, and has cleared all copyrighted material (e.g., music and stock footage) included in the Work; Neither the Work nor any of its elements infringes upon the copyrights or trademarks of any person or entity; and The exhibition and public performance of the Work will not violate the rights to privacy of any person, constitute defamation against any person, or in any other way violate the rights of any person or entity. INDEMNIFICATION Entrant hereby indemnifies the Festival its successors, licensees, assigns, officers, directors, employees, and any representatives thereof, against any and all claims, expenses, losses, or damages (including reasonable attorneys fees) incurred by reason of the breach of the foregoing representations and warranties. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY IN NO EVENT WILL THE FESTIVAL, ITS ORGANIZERS, EMPLOYEES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS SPONSORS, OR PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS BE LIABLE TO THE ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER PARTY FOR: (1) DAMAGE TO OR LOSS OF THE WORK OR ANY OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED TO THE FESTIVAL; OR (2) ANY INCIDENTAL, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES OF ANY KIND (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOST REVENUES OR PROFITS) ARISING FROM OR RELATING TO THE WORK, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, EXHIBITION DELAYS, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE FESTIVAL WAS ADVISED, HAD OTHER REASON TO KNOW, OR IN FACT KNEW OF THE POSSIBILITY THEREOF. THE FESTIVALS AGGREGATE LIABILITY FOR DIRECT DAMAGES UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT EXCEED THE ENTRY FEE. CHOICE OF LAW This Call for Entries and this Entry Form, and any and all disputes directly or indirectly arising out of or relating to this Call for Entries or this Entry Form, will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey, without reference to the choice of law rules thereof. Entrant hereby irrevocably consents and submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts located in New Jersey for any such disputes, and hereby irrevocably waives any objections to the laying of venue in such courts.