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Call for Entries

Film submissions for the 59th Chicago International Film Festival are now open!


Early deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by April 8, 2024.
Regular deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by June 10, 2024.
Late deadline entries must be postmarked/submitted online by July 1, 2024.

Laurels: 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee 2023 from MovieMaker Magazine
The Chicago International Film Festival has been named on Movie Magazine‘s “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”

Details & Information

Completion Date

  • Films must have been completed AFTER August 1, 2023.
  • Films completed before August 1, 2023 are NOT eligible.

Premiere Date

  • Films must premier/have premiered AFTER October 23, 2023.
  • Films premiered anywhere on or before October 23, 2023 are NOT eligible.

Premiere Status

  • Films must be at least a Chicago premiere, and US premieres (theatrical and/or online) are given priority.
  • Films shown at private screenings not open to the public (for crew, investors, etc.) are eligible.
  • Films that have previously shown online at U.S. film festivals outside of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin are eligible for consideration.
  • Films are NOT eligible if they
    • Have theatrically screened publicly in the Chicago area
    • Have had a theatrical run in the US prior to the Festival dates
    • Have aired on US television prior to the Festival dates
    • Have shown online in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, or Wisconsin prior to the Festival dates.
    • Are available to the public for purchase on DVD/Blu-ray or online.
  • Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) that are available for public online viewing in their entirety are NOT eligible. Short films (under 40 min) may be available online.
  • Films previously submitted to the Chicago International Film Festival are NOT eligible for consideration.
  • All entries must be either in English or subtitled in English. Dialogue lists are not accepted.
  • Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry to the Festival and to use all music, images, and content in the entry.

For any specific questions regarding your film’s eligibility, please email

  • Films must be submitted via an online screener hosted by Vimeo or other secure online platform. (It is recommended that films submitted via online screener be available to download). Please contact if you prefer to submit a Bluray/DVD screener.
  • Only complete entries (including fee payment and screener) will be considered.
  • Entrants are permitted to submit works-in-progress (i.e., without final color correction or sound mixing), but please note that the programming committee will only consider the version submitted. Subsequent cuts or replacement copies will only be accepted at the request of the programming committee.
  • For theatrical screenings, all films selected for the Chicago International Film Festival will screen on DCP unless otherwise arranged. If required, file specifications for online screenings will be provided to selected films.

Films are selected for Festival presentation by the Chicago International Film Festival programming committee. If a film is selected, the Festival office will contact the entrant by phone or email. For films selected to screen at the 59th Chicago International Film Festival, the Festival will only cover one-way shipping costs for the Festival screening hard drive or DCP.

All entrants will be notified on or before September 15, 2023. The Festival does not provide feedback or screening notes to entries that are not selected.

Films selected for the International Feature, Documentary, New Directors, and OutLook Competitions are judged during the Festival. All other competitive film categories, including the Chicago Award and Short Film Competitions, are judged before the Festival.

The Chicago International Film Festival is the longest-running competitive film festival in North America. The Festival is dedicated to the discovery of new voices. We are inclusive in our programming, embracing and uplifting a wide range of identities, cultures, genres, aesthetics, and perspectives. Films are programmed in a variety of competitive and non-competitive sections as we present a festival that is designed to excite, provoke, enrich, and entertain.

International Feature Film Competition
Representing a wide variety of styles and genres, these works compete for the top honor, the Gold Hugo – as well as awards for best actor, actress, director, writer, and more – in North America’s longest-running competitive film festival.

New Directors Competition
This selection of first and second feature films, receiving their U.S. premiere in Chicago, celebrates the spirit of discovery and innovation upon which the Festival was founded. To be eligible for the competition, films must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.

Documentary Competition
Global in scope and representing a wide range of approaches to documentary form, this program offers a diverse cross-section of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking in both competitive and non-competitive sections. To be eligible for the International Documentary Competition, films must be at least a U.S. premiere if selected for the Festival.

OutLook Competition
Competing for the Festival’s Q Hugo Award, these superbly crafted films reflect the myriad perspectives and experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals.

Short Film Competitions
Annually showcasing the best short films from around the globe, this competition highlights the work of both upcoming artists and masters of the short subject form. Programmed films are eligible for awards in the following categories: Animation, Documentary, and Live Action. The winners of the Best Live Action, Best Documentary Short and Best Animated Short awards are eligible to be considered by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the Academy Awards®.

City & State
This program celebrates Illinois’ rich filmmaking tradition, showcasing the best features, documentaries, and short films with their roots right here in Illinois. Films in this section compete for the Chicago Award, given to the year’s best Illinois film.

The Chicago International Film Festival screens a wide range of films out of competition every year. All non-competition films at the Festival are programmed under one of the following categories.

After Dark
Gathering genre films from horror and thrillers to edgy animation and dark comedies, this showcase of future cult classics and midnight favorites offers an exciting mix of late-night fare.

Black Perspectives
Now in its 27th year, this program showcases films that celebrate the richness of African American filmmaking and the diversity of black cultures around the world and the filmmakers behind them.

In addition to After Dark and Black Perspectives, The Chicago International Film Festival screens a vast range of films out of competition every year across a wide variety of genres and forms. Films screening out of competition are organized into categories at the discretion of the 59th Chicago International Film Festival and its programming staff. Past non-competitive sections have included: Cinemas of the Americas, Comedy, Expanded Visions (experimental), and Masters. These categories rotate annually.

Each entry must be accompanied by the appropriate entry fee. Entry fees are not refundable. Fees cover registration, registration notification, full consideration by the programming department, and notification of the results. These fees may be paid by credit card (VISA, MasterCard, or American Express) or by check or money order, made payable to Cinema/Chicago.

Postmark deadline April 3 June 12 July 6
Feature-length narrative $90.00 $100.00 $200.00
Feature-length documentary $70.00 $80.00 $150.00
Short film (under 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $70.00
Student film: feature (over 40 min) $40.00 $50.00 $80.00
Student film: short (under 40 min) $20.00 $30.00 $50.00
Actress Kathryn Hahn onstage with Artistic Director Mimi Plouche onstage in front of a movie screen
A large, diverse group of filmmakers pose on a red carpet
Filmmakers accepting awards on a stage