The Ten Best Short Film Festivals to Submit to in the US
By Argo
It is important to select a festival that matches your values as a filmmaker, as well as a festival where you think you stand a chance at being accepted. I wanted to showcase some established festivals for those who have been around the block before, as well as some up-and-coming film festivals that are a little more accessible and budget-friendly for filmmakers that are just starting out.


*Note – Most of these festivals are meant to be in-person, but have gone virtual during the pandemic.


Aspen Shortsfest
    • Aspen Shortsfest is one of the most well-known film festivals in the United States, which is impressive for a festival dedicated to short films. They’ve been around for 30 years, and the festival takes place in Aspen, Colorado. They are also an Academy Award Qualifying Festival, meaning your film can be nominated for an Academy Award after screening at the festival. There have been a number of success stories that have come out of this festival, including four shorts nominated for the 2020 Oscars!
    • Entry Fee: $60-$90
    • Opening Date: July 15, 2020
    • Event Date: April 6-11, 2021


Palm Springs International Shortfest
    • Palm Springs International Shortfest is an offshoot of the popular Palm Springs International Film Festival in California. They also offer the opportunity to qualify for the Academy Awards if you win certain awards at the festival. They have been running for 26 years, and they have a student-specific short category that is eligible for all other specialty awards at the festival.
    • Entry Fee: $40-$60
    • Opening Date: TBD
    • Event Date: TBD (2021)


Atlanta Film Festival
    • The Atlanta Film Festival is the only festival on this list that is not exclusively dedicated to shorts, but it is Academy Award Qualifying and has a wide variety of submission categories for short films. These categories include Narrative, Documentary, Animated, and even Puppetry! This is one of the coolest festivals for independent filmmakers, and more accessible for short films than bigger festivals like Sundance.
    • Entry Fee: $30-$85
    • Opening Date: April 3, 2020
    • Event Date: April 22-May 2, 2021


Independent Shorts Awards
    • The Independent Shorts Awards festival has a mind-blowing 29 categories to submit to, ensuring that a wide variety of films get screened. Based in Los Angeles, they are a relatively new festival compared to others on this list at three years old. They offer a unique model of monthly live screenings, making them accessible no matter when your film is finished. They are also an IMDb Qualifying festival, meaning you can list your film premiere on IMDb if it is screened here.
    • Entry Fee: $45-$55
    • Opening Date: August 12, 2020
    • Event Date: September 13, 2020


Argo Untold Stories Short Film Awards
    • In-person festivals are having a hard time transitioning to online screenings. But the Argo Untold Stories Short Film Awards is designed to be an online festival! Perfect for premiering a film in a pandemic. Their goal is to promote BIPOC narratives and celebrate cultures from all around the world that we may not see represented in mainstream media. As a bonus, winners’ films will be released on the curated Argo app!
    • Entry Fee: $1-$5
    • Opening Date: July 3, 2020
    • Event Date: October 1-18, 2020


Boston Short Film Festival
    • The Boston Short Film Festival accepts shorts of any genre, with a focus on up-and-coming filmmakers and new talent in the next generation. Their submission prices are noticeably low, and Boston filmmakers get to submit their films for free! At six years old, this festival is developing into one to keep an eye on for unconventional and underground films.
    • Entry Fee: $10-$35
    • Opening Date: July 19, 2020
    • Event Date: July 12-16, 2021


Southern Shorts Awards
    • Offering seasonal awards and screenings, the Southern Shorts Awards in Roswell, Georgia has many different categories to submit to, with unique options such as Fan Films and Musicals. Every film submitted gets scored, so it’s a great way to get feedback from judges even if your film doesn’t end up winning anything.
    • Entry Fee: $30-$50
    • Opening Date: July 1, 2020
    • Event Date: November 14, 2020


Arizona Short Film Festival
    • The Arizona Short Film Festival is a new festival, having only run for 2 years. But they are in association with a collection of international film festivals supporting independent filmmaking. They aim to connect filmmakers with each other. Playing at this festival could lead to a bigger professional network and further film work down the line.
    • Entry Fee: $10-$35
    • Opening Date: March 31, 2020
    • Event Date: May 26, 2021


Clean Shorts Film Festival
    • It takes creativity to make a film that is suitable for all ages, and that’s the kind of film this festival is looking for. There are submission categories for both high school and college students, so this is an ideal festival for someone who is just starting out. They are located in Choctaw, Oklahoma and they’ve been running for seven years.
    • Entry Fee: $10-$25
    • Opening Date: June 1, 2020
    • Event Date: March 26-27, 2021


Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Festival
    • Chicago hosts a number of film festivals every year, but the best one for shorts is the Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Festival. There are only two categories, Short Films and TV Pilots/Web Series/Film Trailers. They then determine the festival awards based on the submissions, so it changes year to year. It’s a festival shaped by the filmmakers who are a part of it.
    • Entry Fee: $20-$55
    • Opening Date: December 30, 2019
    • Event Date: November 13-14, 2020


You can find more details about the Argo competition here: Argo Untold Stories Short Film Awards

For any questions please reach out to:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @watch.argo
Twitter: @watch_argo
Facebook: @watchargo