The MNFF7 Submission Season begins on Monday, January 4, 2021. We look forward to considering your film!

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is all about showcasing the outstanding work of first and second time filmmakers. It’s our sole focus and it’s what we do exceptionally well. Our goal is to create a peer festival, a level playing field, a place to be discovered and talked about in a joyous environment. The event takes place in scenic Middlebury, Vermont in late August each year, with our 7th Annual event planned for August 26-29, 2021. We want you to feel at home here in Middlebury as we celebrate the dynamic and emerging new voices in independent cinema.

Submission Criteria

  • The work must be either your first or second film, whether it’s a feature OR a short. For example, if you have already made three short films, but you would like to submit either your first or second feature, then go right ahead. Or, if you have made a couple of features, but recently completed your first or second short film, then by all means submit the short. We are open to any genre, be it narrative, documentary, animation, experimental and VR.
  • Feature films should be at least 40 minutes long. Shorts can range in length from 3 minutes to 40 minutes, although, if a 40 minute short is accepted, it may possibly be classified as a feature. MNFF will also consider web series if the entire series does not exceed 60 minutes.
  • The work must have been completed after March 1, 2019, i.e., roughly within the past two years. We would like your work to be current.
  • In the event that your film is selected, we would love for your film to premiere at MNFF, but it is fine with us if you have shown your work elsewhere, i.e., at another festival or for a short theatrical run. If the film is already out commercially as a DVD/Blu-Ray, up on a transactional platform like iTunes or Vudu, on an SVOD platform like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, a VOD platform like Comcast Xfinity or on a broadcast or cable network, e.g., PBS or HBO or Showtime, we may still consider the work, but it does complicate the selection process.
  • MNFF typically does not pay screening fees to filmmakers whose work is accepted from the submission pool.
  • We are not accepting works-in-progress at MNFF.

Additional Screenings

A selection of MNFF’s best features will receive valuable additional screenings in various venues around Vermont in the February following the Festival, as part of our MNFF Vermont Tour. The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival asks that our selected filmmakers allow us to screen their work at these venues as we create greater visibility for their films in the state of Vermont. Compensation for these screenings will be paid by the Festival directly to the filmmakers, and travel and lodging arrangements are covered as well should the participating filmmaker wish to attend particular screenings.

Due to the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, MNFF will not conduct the Vermont Tour in February 2021 but we are hoping to restart this well received event in February 2022.

Awards & Prizes

In addition to Awards for Best Feature Documentary, Best Short Documentary, Best Feature Narrative, Best Short Narrative, Audience Award Feature and Audience Award Short, MNFF offers an exceptional array of prizes for both feature film and short film creators.

MNFF supports feature film creators with four cash prizes of $1,000 each and one valued at $500, all to be awarded at the 7th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival.

  • The Hernandez/Bayliss Prize for the feature film that best captures the triumph of the human spirit. Value: $1000.
  • The Clio Visualizing History Prize for the Advancement of Women in Film, presented to a woman filmmaker whose feature film boldly portrays the story of a person or events of historical significance. Value: $1000.
  • The Gaia Prize for Environmental Filmmaking, honoring a feature film that delivers exceptional insights into environmental and sustainability issues. Value: $1000.
  • The Shouldice Family Prize for Best Vermont-Made Film, honoring a feature film [or a short film] created and filmed in Vermont. Value: $1000.
  • The Thaddeus Stevens Award for Social Engagement by a Vermont Filmmaker, honoring a feature film that contributes to the national conversation of key social and cultural issues and is a tribute to the heroic native Vermonter, Thaddeus Stevens, who played a decisive role in the abolition of slavery and the establishment of free public schooling. Value: $500.

All of these cash prizes represent an ongoing effort by MNFF to expand its core mission by financially supporting the work of distinguished first and second time filmmakers.

New to MNFF this coming year is a remarkable opportunity for a feature filmmaker to participate in a cross cultural exchange:

  • The AICEF Prize for Cross Cultural Filmmaking, underwritten by the American-Indonesian Cultural & Educational Foundation [AICEF], will be presented at MNFF7 to a first or second time American feature filmmaker whose work robustly embraces cross-cultural themes either in the narrative or documentary genre. In addition to a showcase screening of the film at MNFF7, the selected filmmaker will present their work at the 15th Annual Bali International Film Festival [the Balinale] in May 2022, with whom MNFF is partnering. Further to the partnership, an Indonesian feature filmmaker will be selected by the Balinale to present their work at the 7th Annual Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in late August 2021. All travel and lodging costs associated with this exchange of filmmakers will be covered through a generous grant from the American-Indonesian Cultural & Educational Foundation [AICEF].

MNFF also offers a highly coveted award exclusively for short film creators:

  • The Vermont Symphony Orchestra [VSO] Award for the Best Integration of Music Into Film, which includes multiple live performances of the winning film’s score by the VSO alongside a simultaneous screening of the film as part of the VSO’s statewide winter tour in early 2022. This dynamic performance/exhibition combination will also take place at MNFF8 in August 2022. Travel arrangements will be made and underwritten by the VSO and MNFF to bring the filmmaker to a select VSO performance. A remarkable and clearly distinctive award, by any standard

MNFF7 Submission Windows & Fees*

  • Early Bird: January 4 – January 22, 2021. Submission fees – $45/feature and $30/short
  • Regular: January 23 – April 9, 2021. Submission fees – $55/feature and $40/short
  • Late: April 10 – May 7, 2021. Submission fees – $60/feature and $45/short
  • Extended: May 8 – May 28, 2021. Submission fees – $65/feature and $50/short

*All submitting filmmakers who are FilmFreeway Gold Members receive fee discounts during all submission windows.

Notification of Acceptance Date

MNFF anticipates that all submitting filmmakers will be informed of their final acceptance status on or before July 9, 2021.

How to Submit

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is working exclusively with FilmFreeway for film submissions. Secure uploading and online screening will be available on FilmFreeway for all submissions to MNFF. Please note that we will NOT be accepting physical copies of films for screening and review.

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