CineYouth banner: See the next generation of filmmakers


CineYouth is the Chicago International Film Festival’s yearly film festival that showcases short films made by filmmakers 22 years old and younger from around the world. CineYouth encourages the talent of young filmmakers and supports diverse youth voices by providing opportunities to have their work showcased, to learn about filmmaking from industry experts, and network with their peers. CineYouth 2022 will offer both in person and online film screenings, filmmaking workshops, live Q&A’s, and more! All events at CineYouth are FREE and open to the public.

Select award-winning CineYouth films will be screened at the 58th Chicago International Film Festival at the CineYouth “Best of the Fest” screening in October 2022.

CineYouth Festival 2022

Submissions are now open for CineYouth 2022!

CineYouth 2022 will be held in Chicago April 22-24, 2022, and will include screenings of Officially Selected films, hands-on workshops and special events.

Submission Guidelines


  • Early Bird Deadline: January 21, 2022
  • Regular Deadline: February 18, 2022
  • Final Deadline: March 4, 2022


  • Filmmakers must be 22 years old or younger at the time of the film’s completion. (Can currently be 23 if the film was finished while 22.)
  • Films must be 15 minutes or less.
  • All entries must be submitted through FilmFreeway.
  • We accept the following genres: drama, comedy, animation, horror, thriller, music video and experimental.

Questions? Email:

Submit Now

For full submission details and to submit your film for consideration, please use the FilmFreeway link below:

Submit With FilmFreeway

Our Commitment to Diversity

As a step towards a more inclusive and accessible festival that addresses the systemic inequity and underrepresentation in film, CineYouth is offering a 50% discount to all films submitted by BIPOC filmmakers, as well as filmmakers with disabilities and/or films featuring performers with disabilities using the following codes:



Additional discount and waiver requests are considered by CineYouth on a case-by-case basis. To make a request, please fill out this short form

CineYouth Intership

Join the CineYouth Programming Team with this hands-on internship that provides experience managing and assisting with operations related to the CineYouth Festival! Learn more…

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CineYouth Festival 2021

CineYouth 2021 streamed globally for a week-long virtual event from May 6-13, 2021. CineYouth 2021 presented 14 international short film programs of films as well as panel discussions, live filmmaker Q&As, and more.

2021 CineYouth Award Winners Download the CineYouth Program Book

2021 Short Film Programs

Playtime: Animation

12 shorts | 40 minutes

Bats, birds, dogs, rams, monsters, and even mushrooms get their stories told in this wide array of animated delights from around the world.

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Lights, Camera, Lock Down

6 shorts | 41 minutes

COVID-19 may have locked everything down, but it couldn’t stop the creative and journalistic energy of these filmmakers who provide a fresh look at our tumultuous now.

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A Personal Climate Crisis

5 shorts | 43 minutes

The climate crisis takes a personal toll in these five films which investigate humanity’s relationship to nature through dystopian (but not so distant) futures, the effects of commerce, and pressures on individual growth.

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6 shorts | 50 minutes

When it feels like the world has failed to provide us with an adequate instruction manual for life, we sometimes need to forge our own path to understand our place in the universe.

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Speak, Memory: Documentary

7 shorts | 56 minutes

Memory and history inform the future in these six documentaries that consider the legacy of language, the power of collective identity, and the ripple effects of incarceration and climate change.

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It’s All Relative: Siblings

5 shorts | 48 minutes

Bonds are tested and renewed in these heartfelt stories of sibling rivalry and solidarity, revealing the ways brothers and sisters shape each other’s identity.

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Up Past Bedtime: Horror

6 shorts | 58 minutes

True crime, creature features, and descents into the darkest depths of the mind are the jumping off points for these exciting and bold genre exercises.

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Hi, Mom!

6 shorts | 52 minutes

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, so make sure you don’t forget (1) to get a card and (2) share with Mom these beautiful films that reveal the powerful influence matriarchs have over our lives.

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Jam Session: Music

7 shorts | 51 minutes

Bandmates and artists find their music and personal lives blend together in these visually arresting films, featuring energetic music videos to reflective dramas and absurdist comedies.

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A New Outlook: LGBTQ+

6 shorts | 43 minutes

Self-love triumphs in these six short films as the filmmakers come of age and come to understand their own identities.

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You Havin’ a Laugh?: Comedy

7 shorts | 49 minutes

Come have a hearty chuckle with these goofy shorts where heroes are pushed to their limits in the fight to keep parrots missing and claim the last piece of pie.

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Give Me Strength

6 shorts | 38 minutes

Provocative and emotional, these shorts empower survivors as they reflect and recover from personal traumas, beautifully detailing the challenges involved in resilience.

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Project a World: Experimental

9 shorts | 67 minutes

Experience the radically inventive approaches to imagemaking from these young visionaries, who create a cinematic language all their own.

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The Cinemas of Chicago

12 shorts | 93 minutes

Our city has proven once again to be fertile ground for filmmakers to find sources of creative self-expression, and these shorts a mere sample of what the future holds for Chicago cinema.

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About the CineYouth Festival

Created in 2005, Cinema/Chicago’s CineYouth Festival is designed to encourage youth filmmakers in their creative endeavors. CineYouth provides opportunities for young filmmakers to articulate themselves artistically, and have their voice heard. Held annually in Chicago, CineYouth is a festival celebrating and fostering the creativity of filmmakers 22 years old and younger by screening officially selected work and encouraging their creative endeavors with workshops, discussions, and panels. CineYouth encourages the talent of young filmmakers and supports diverse youth voices by providing opportunities to have their work showcased, to learn from industry experts, and to network with peers.

2021 CineYouth Supporters

Want to help support the next generation of filmmakers? Become a CineYouth Sponsor today…


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Additional Support

Logo: DCASE logoLogo: Illinois Arts Council - 133x100logo: Illinois Film Office

Event Partner

Logo: National Film Festival for Talented Youth

Official Agency

Logo: Ogilvy 175x75

2019 Donors

Brian Dailey • Adrienne Davis • Corbin Horn • Tom Kehoe • Rick Nicita • Cynthia Olson • Judy Pollock
Joe Swanberg • Kathleen Turner • Paula Wagner • Mamie J Walton