Years running: 19 (since 2001)

San Diego Film Festival

International Film Festival.


The San Diego Film Festival's mission is to support the growth and distribution of the motion picture arts through supporting filmmakers, through connections, eduction and exposure, bringing independent and noteworthy film to a diverse audience, and promote San Diego as a thriving film and arts community.

Our aim is to present outstanding film and artists from around the world. We strive to uncover and foster filmmaker talent through education, promote contacts between industry professionals to assist in the development of the motion picture industry in San Diego, and build a community that appreciates and understands the motion picture arts. With special focus and support for Women in Film and Native American projects we hope to cast the widest possible net to grow future generations of filmmakers and movie goers in San Diego and around the world. 


  • Narrative Features,
  • Documentary Features,
  • Shorts (narrative and documentary). 

Some Programming Spotlight categories include: Animated Shorts, World Cinema, Native American, Action Sports, Military, LGBT, Student, Women Filmmakers, Health, and Environmental Films.


  • $5,000 Prize for Best Narrative Feature Film
  • $5,000 Prize for Best Documentary Film
  • $2,000 Prize for Best Short Film

Award Additional

  • The Chris Brinker Award (1st time directors only)
  • North American or International Premieres for the Best New Narrative or Best New Documentary Awards.
  • Audience Award (all categoies).
  • U-T San Diego Award (all categoies)
  •  Chairman’s Award (features)
  • Kumeyaay Award (all categoies)


  • Feature films, short films, documentaries must have been completed after January 1, 2017.
  • Projects must be a premiere in San Diego.
  • Subtitles language: English

Documents and Other Requisite Items

Each entered film must be submitted on its own DVD(s) or BLURAY(s) and accompanied by its own completed “Entry Form”.

If your work was submitted and considered for previous editions of the San Diego Film Festival, you may re-enter it and if all eligibility requirements are met.

The cost of shipping all entries and films to the festival must be paid by the entrant. The SDFF will not pay the cost of shipping the print back to the filmmaker.

Filmmaker Benefits:

  • 2 Filmmaker Badges with full access to all screenings and events
  • 5 Complimentary Tickets for the filmmaker's screening
  • Filmmaker Brunch including networking with industry professionals
  • Discounted accommodations for filmmakers
  • Industry-oriented seminars and workshops
  • Potential for one-on-one meetings with prominent entertainment industry professionals
  • Complimentary admission for some of the leading tourist and cultural attractions in and around San Diego

Premiere Requirements

City premiere required.

Jury and Organizers

Organizer — Stephanie Inscoe.



United States
San Diego

Official website



2683 Via de la Valle, Suite G210
Del Mar, CA 92014
United States

Phone: 619-818-2221


Social Networks:

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Dates & Deadlines
  • Opening date
    January 10, 2018
  • Earlybird Deadline
    March 01, 2018
  • Regular Deadline
    May 01, 2018
  • Late Deadline
    June 18, 2018
  • Extended Deadline
    July 02, 2018
  • Notifications
    August 27, 2018
  • Event dates
    10 — 14 October 2018
Categories & Fees

Student narrative, documentary, and shorts are those films completed for degree requirements or while in school of a university or film school program. Student shorts represent solid storytelling and emerging visions from a broad range of categories, and also includes student animation.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $25
  • Regular Deadline — $40
  • Late Deadline — $60
  • Extended Deadline — $85

To be considered for the Native American category, the film must be directed, produced or co-produced by a Native American or explore a topic pertinent to Native American culture. A runtime of any length is permitted.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $30
  • Regular Deadline — $50
  • Late Deadline — $70
  • Extended Deadline — $95

Films entered in this category must be under 30 minutes in length and contain a significant amount of animation.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $30
  • Regular Deadline — $50
  • Late Deadline — $70
  • Extended Deadline — $95

Films that honor our U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel by telling their stories, in order to help bring closure, create understanding and bridge the gap of empathy between the civilian community and our sailors, soldiers and airmen fostering the spirit of One Nation unified on the home front.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $30
  • Regular Deadline — $50
  • Late Deadline — $70
  • Extended Deadline — $95

Using the power of documentary films to tell transformational stories with lasting social impact and to create positive change in the world. The goal is to bring awareness to worldwide social issues. Issues can include, but are not limited to, homelessness, violence against women, LGBT+, Eco-Environmental, discrimination.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $30
  • Regular Deadline — $50
  • Late Deadline — $70
  • Extended Deadline — $95

Films longer than 30 minutes may be considered.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $40
  • Regular Deadline — $60
  • Late Deadline — $80
  • Extended Deadline — $105

We accept documentary, animated and experimental shorts in this category as well (maximum 30 minutes).

  • Earlybird Deadline — $30
  • Regular Deadline — $50
  • Late Deadline — $70
  • Extended Deadline — $95

Films must be longer than 30 minutes.

  • Earlybird Deadline — $40
  • Regular Deadline — $60
  • Late Deadline — $80
  • Extended Deadline — $105
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