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CineYouth Festival

Created in 2005, Cinema/Chicago’s CineYouth Film 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 three-day festival celebrating and fostering the creativity of filmmakers 22 years old and younger by screening officially selected work and encouraging their creative endeavors by presenting a filmmaking workshop, discussions and panels.

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CineYouth 2021

While the 2020 edition of CineYouth was postponed, the slated films will be featured in 2021 and join a new selection of work from the past year for a week-long virtual event from May 6-13, 2021.

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 to network with peers. CineYouth 2021 will offer free film screenings, virtual filmmaking workshops, live filmmaker Q&A’s, and more!

Submissions for the 2021 CineYouth festival are now closed.



  • Early bird deadline: February 22, 2021
  • Regular deadline: March 5, 2021
  • Final deadline: March 19, 2021


  • 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 us at cineyouth@chicagofilmfestival.com


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

Submit With FilmFreeway

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CineYouth 2019

Select Chicago Films

Please enjoy this selection of Chicago-made films from the 2019 CineYouth Festival that are free to watch online.


Director: India Harris, Jaliyah Thompson, Gina Navarrete, Maya Thompson

An emotional exposé on female victims of gun violence in Chicago, Hear Her Voice is told with a powerful sense of urgency by the victims themselves as they reflect on the state of their community.


Director: Kiernan Francis

A montage of the day in the life of a high school student, where over-stimulating classroom and social environments lead to feelings of dissociation.


Director: Samuel Johnson

This magical pop music video delves into the anxieties and delusions of a hard breakup, following a pathetically dramatic boyfriend on the road to closure.


Director: Natalie Braye, Liliana Bravo

The state of Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood, undergoing a change in identity amidst gentrification, told through the eyes of Pilsen’s local artists and the historic murals that have defined the community.


Director: Emilio Nieto

Formally ambitious and deeply vulnerable, PANZóN follows a Mexican-American teen in Chicago as he struggles with body image and self-acceptance.


Director: Nikki Milan Houston

Despondently driving around an industrial foreign town, a single mother posing as a customer service representative makes calls from different pay phones, attempting to reach the father of her child.

CineYouth Programs

CineYouth Award Winners photo

2019 Award Winners

The best films of the 2019 CineYouth Festival

CineYouth Film Challenge photo

CineYouth Film Challenge

Students ages 13-18 at the CineYouth Film Challenge complete a short film with their assigned team under the thrill of a deadline.

CineYouth Supporters

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

2019 Sponsors

Flashpoint ChicagoLogo: Columbia College - 273x100

2019 Additional Support

Logo: DCASE 2019 - 500x98Logo: HI USA 253x75Logo: Illinois Arts Council - 133x100Logo: WTTW 11 - 240x100

2019 Award Partners

Logo: Chicago International Film Festival 211x150Logo: Second City Training Center 200x200Logo: Pasfarda 200x200Logo: Harold Ramis Film School 275x90Logo: Prodigy Film Camp - 462x100
Charles Droege and Julie Wroblewski • Byron and Judy Pollock • Brenda Robinson • Steven Kwate • Dr. Jennifer Kim

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