The Submission Window for MNFF10 is now CLOSED!Submit Your Film to MNFF11 Beginning January 2, 2025!

For Filmmakers

Submit Your Film to MNFF11

Hello, new filmmakers! The submission window for the 10th Anniversary Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is now CLOSED. We will reopen for our 11th season on January 2, 2025. We look forward to considering your film in the new year. Our best to all!

Celebrating remarkable 1st and 2nd time filmmakers from around the world.

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is all about showcasing the outstanding work of first and second time filmmakers from around the world. 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 10th Anniversary Festival scheduled for August 21-25, 2024. 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 a short film trilogy with a unified theme that spans no more than 40 minutes. And, we will consider a web series if the entire series does not exceed 60 minutes.
  • The work must have been completed after March 1, 2022, 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.
  • We are not accepting multi-part long form episodic series at MNFF.

MNFF Vermont Tour

A selection of MNFF’s best feature films will receive valuable additional screenings in various venues around Vermont in mid-November of 2024, 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 or their distributors, and travel and lodging arrangements are covered as well, should the participating filmmaker wish to attend particular screenings.

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 eight cash prizes of $1,000 each and two valued at $500, all to be awarded at the 10th Anniversary 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, honoring a feature film that contributes to the national conversation around key social and cultural issues. The Award 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.
  • The Ralph Steiner Award for Poetic Cinema, honoring a feature film that embodies the poetic sensibility of pioneering filmmaker and photographer Ralph Steiner. Value: $500. 
  • The Kate Hearst Prize, given to a feature or a short film that explores human connectivity in our increasingly interdependent world by revealing vital relationships between individuals, local communities, global collectives and/or species who share our planet. Value: $1000.
  • The Gamble-Paison Prize for Best International Feature Film, recognizing excellence in feature narrative or documentary filmmaking by first or second time international directors. Value: $1,000.
  • The Swift House Prize for Best Depiction of the Arts, presented to either a feature or short film that best portrays a story of an artistic creation or endeavor. Value: $1000.
  • The Jeanine Basinger Prize for Best Student Film, an important new Prize, awarded to a short film created by an enrolled student [undergraduate or graduate] that best demonstrates the art of filmmaking.  Films made either as part of the academic curriculum or independent of the curriculum are eligible. Value: $1000.

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.

MNFF also provides 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 MNFF9 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 MNFF10, the selected filmmaker will present their work at the 17th Annual Bali International Film Festival [the Balinale] in May 2025, 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 10th Anniversary Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in late August 2024. All travel and lodging costs associated with this stimulating exchange of filmmakers will be covered through a generous grant from the American-Indonesian Cultural & Educational Foundation [AICEF].

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

  • The Vermont Symphony Orchestra Award for the Best Integration of Music Into Film, honoring a short film creator whose integration of music into film is of the highest order. The award includes multiple live performances of the winning film’s score by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO) alongside simultaneous screenings of the film as part of the VSO’s major performance schedule in early 2025. This dynamic performance/exhibition combination will also take place at MNFF10 in August 2024.  A remarkable and clearly distinctive award, by any standard.

Submission Windows & Fees*

  • Early Bird: January 2 – January 19, 2024. Submission Fees: $30/Short, $45/Feature – CLOSED
  • Regular: January 20 – April 6, 2024. Submission Fees: $40/Short, $55/Feature – CLOSED
  • Late: April 7 – May 6, 2024. Submission Fees: $45/Short, $60/Feature – CLOSED
  • Extended: May 7 – May 29. Submission Fees: $50/Short, $65/Feature – CLOSED
  • All submitting filmmakers who are FilmFreeway Gold Members receive fee discounts during all submission windows.

Notification of Acceptance

We anticipate that all submitting filmmakers will be informed of their MNFF10 acceptance status on or before July 8, 2024.

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.