Cinequest Film Submissions

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, ’What do I have to do to be invited back?’ It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place." - Neil Gaiman.  Please watch this video from artists about their Cinequest experience.

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Cinequest voted Best Film Festival by USA Today Readers.

"This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time." - Chris Gore (Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide). Cinequest Film & VR Festival has helped discover countless artists including: Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie); Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros, 21), Deepa Mehta (Water, Midnight’s Children); Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno); Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men); Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite); Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos); Renee Zellweger (Chicago, Jerry MacGuire); and Gavin Hood (Tsotsi, Wolverine), among many others. Click here for additional Cinequest Programming Highlights.

Unparalleled amongst the major festivals, Cinequest programs 85-90% of its Features and 100% of its Shorts from paid submissions. An Academy-qualifying festival for the short film categories, Cinequest is proud to honor the winners of its Best Short Narrative and Best Short Animation prizes with a shot at every filmmaker’s dream... Oscar gold.

Film Submission Deadlines

Film Submission Sections

"This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time." -- Chris Gore (Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide)

NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM COMPETITIONS

Cinequest will consider feature-length narratives for one of three sections:

DRAMATIC FEATURE COMPETITION

Cinequest’s Dramatic Feature Competition is comprised of 15 U.S. and International features demonstrating adventurous and personal stories that resonate with global audiences. Films are selected based on highly realized artistic vision and the discovery of compelling and unique story-telling. Films in this section will be eligible for BEST FEATURE COMEDY and BEST FEATURE DRAMA awards.

NEW VISIONS

Comprised of 20-25 feature films, the New Visions program focuses on film artists who re-define their craft by creating original work. This prestigious section gives emerging filmmakers an opportunity to gain the recognition necessary to launch distribution and promotional campaigns. Films are selected based on creativity and adventurous storytelling. Films in this section will be eligible for the NEW VISIONS AWARD.

GLOBAL LANDSCAPES

Comprised of 20-25 features, Global Landscapes looks at visions from around the world, and sheds light on regions, territories, or cultures that have a substantial effect on cinema. Films in Global Landscapes are selected based on creative storytelling, unique visions and/or global impact. Films in this section will be eligible for the GLOBAL VISION AWARD.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM COMPETITION

Cinequest’s Documentary Feature Competition: 12-15 feature documentaries provide an international mix of adventurous and thought-provoking films that challenge and inspire audiences. Films are selected based on high artistic merits and the discovery of a unique subject and personal vision. 

SHORT FILM COMPETITION

Cinequest’s Short Film Competition is comprised of approximately 75-100 short films in all genres, including: Live Action Narrative, Documentary, Animation, Experimental.

Cinequest is honored that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has elected to recognize the Cinequest Film & VR Festival as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category for the Annual Academy Awards®. Recipients of the BEST SHORT NARRATIVE and BEST SHORT ANIMATION awards will qualify for consideration for an Academy Award® without the standard theatrical run provided the film complies with the Academy’s rules. For more information, please see www.oscars.org. 

This section is an international mix of adventurous and personal films, focusing on the varied visions found in world cinema. The selection criteria for the competition will include content, form and technical achievement.

HIGH SCHOOL FILM COMPETITION

Cinequest welcomes national and international submissions of Short to Mid-Length films (up to 40 min). Cinequest seeks original and engaging films of all genres including: comedy, drama, experimental, documentary, sports, and action. Films in this section will be eligible for BEST HIGH SCHOOL FILM.

COLLEGE SHORT FILM COMPETITION

The College Short Film Competition is comprised of an eclectic mix of adventurous and personal short films, focusing on visionary statements. All films for this section must be produced as a student but may have been completed after graduation. The selection criteria for the competition will include content, form and technical achievement. Films in this section will be eligible for BEST COLLEGE SHORT FILM.

Film Submission Rules and Information

"I think the most important thing about Cinequest is it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever come to a festival where my immediate reaction is, ’What do I have to do to be invited back?’ and that’s not normally my reaction. It’s a perfect film festival in a glorious place." -- Neil Gaiman, Maverick Spirit Award Winner

GENERAL RULES

ROUGH CUTS ARE ACCEPTED for submissions as long as films are completed by the festival dates. Our selection committees are comprised of filmmakers, and we look at each work in progress film knowing that it will definitely be different by the time the film makes it to the big screen.

Cinequest is honored to announce that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has elected to recognize the Cinequest Film & VR Festival as a qualifying festival for the Short Films category for the Academy Awards. Recipients of the BEST SHORT NARRATIVE and BEST SHORT ANIMATION prizes will qualify for consideration for an Academy Award without the standard theatrical run, provided the film complies with the Academy’s rules. For more information on Academy rules, please see www.oscars.org.

SCREENINGS

If selected, film producers authorize Cinequest to conduct up to four (4) theatrical screenings during the Cinequest Film & VR Festival. NOTE: FILM AWARD WINNERS MUST BE WILLING TO SHOW ON ENCORE DAY, SUNDAY, MARCH 6, 2016.

FESTIVAL SECTIONS

Filmmakers only need to submit with ONE entry fee per film, as the festival programming committees will view and consider each film for the appropriate sections.

Short film submissions will be considered for the category to which they are submitted: Short Film Competition, College Film Competition, and High School Film Competition, where appropriate.

Feature Films will be considered for Dramatic Feature Competition, Documentary Competition, New Visions Competition and Global Landscapes Competition).

To qualify specifically for all Feature Competitions, a film must be a Northern California Premiere.

Festival Awards include:

  • Best Feature Film: Drama (Dramatic Feature Competition)
  • Best Feature Film: Comedy (Dramatic Feature Competition)
  • Best Documentary Feature (Documentary Feature Competition)
  • New Visions Award (New Visions)
  • Global Vision Award (Global Landscapes)
  • Audience Award for Feature Narrative
  • Audience Award for Feature Documentary
  • Best Short Narrative Film
  • Best Short Animated Film
  • Best Short Documentary Film
  • Best College Short Film
  • Best High School Film

MARKETING AND PUBLICITY

Cinequest’s publicity and marketing teams will craft a specific promotional campaign for the film program. To assist in this campaign, filmmakers will be responsible for providing the following materials by January deadlines to Cinequest, if selected to participate:

  • Digital images
  • EPKs
  • NTSC DVD media screeners of their film
  • Trailers and film clips
  • Any other marketing materials you wish to be used to promote your film. (NOTE: The publicity team will send a more specific list once films are selected)

FILM FORMATS AND SHIPMENT

Filmmaker must provide one of the following screening formats for their Cinequest festival screenings:

  • DCP
  • HDCAM (HD-CAM SR is NOT accepted)
  • BluRay

Note: We cannot accept HDCAM-SR Tapes or HDV Tapes for exhibition formats. Dobly-E audio tracks on digital tapes are also NOT supported for exhibition.

If a film is selected, the participating filmmakers will be responsible for covering the costs of the shipment of the film to Cinequest. Cinequest will cover the return shipment costs to the filmmaker. If a film is being shipped to another festival, the receiving festival must pay for shipping.

Click on the following for more information on film submissions sections, or for general rules and information. If you have any questions, please contact our Programming Department. If you are a Sister Cities Filmmaker, please click here to enter your submission access code.