United Film Festival – Screenwriting Contest

2013 Season
Los Angeles – April / May
New York – May
London – June
San Francisco – Aug./Sept.
Chicago – Sept.
Tulsa – Oct.

This contest offers an amazing opportunity for screenwriters with work in many different genres. Visit the Submissions section of our website for more information on how to submit.

Along with submitting your script, you may also choose to purchase Script Coverage of your submission, which offers more in-depth analysis of your submission, including an evaluation of Originalty, Story Structure, Characterization, Dialogue, and Mechanics. Submission fees will increase as we get closer to our final deadline so submit today!

The United Film Festival Screenwriting Contest, now in its third year, is an opportunity for the United Film Festival to continue to grow our expansive United network and provide a forum for those who often get overlooked in the world of film production – “the screenwriter.” The United Film Festival screens cutting-edge independent films and highly acclaimed classic movies with the audience in mind in six unique cities -Los Angeles, New York, London, San Francisco, Chicago, and Tulsa.

After ten years running successful filmmakers in these cities, our commitment to bringing together talented filmmakers and screenwriters from diverse backgrounds, thus creating a “United” showcase of creative energy and talent, has extended to our Screenwriting Contest. We are commited to providing opportunities for our large and constantly growing network of filmmakers through outlets including our distribution division, United Films. As of 2012, United Films acts as a sales representative for over 50 independent titles, many of whom are United Film Festival alumni or former submitters.

Our Screenwriting Contest calls for short and feature scripts in the following categories: Drama, Comedy, and Horror/Thriller. We will announce three finalists in each category (Feature-length Drama, Feature-length Comedy, Feature length Horror/Thriller, Short Drama, Short Comedy, Short Horror/Thriller) in April 2013 and winners will be announced and honored at the United Film Festival – Los Angeles in May 2013.

A Tulsa native filmmaker, Jason Connell and his production company Connell Creations founded the United Film Festival – Tulsa ten years ago, expanding to Los Angeles & New York in 2007 and San Francisco, Chicago, & London in 2009. As a result of these six unique festivals, we have built a large network of filmmakers and in 2011, we continued to expand that network by creating a forum solely for screenwriters with the United Film Festivals Screenwriting Contest. Winners are honored at the United Film Festival – Los Angeles.

United Films, the distribution division of Connell Creations and the United Film Festival, continues to support the United network by offering opportunities to filmmakers beyond our festival. We have celebrated many successes through this avenue, and many of those films were originally United Film Festival submissions.

Another way we connect to our network of filmmakers and screenwriters is by offering an option for submitters to receive Coverage, designed to provide valuable insight by sharing comments from our Reading committee. Coverage is optional and can be added to any submission.

In addition to creating the United Film Festival, Jason Connell directed and produced the heartwarming documentary “Strictly Background” in 2008, and has produced critically acclaimed films such as “The Rock-afire Explosion,” “Cleanflix,” “Gabi on the Roof in July,” and “Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians.”

Our United Film Festival – Los Angeles, where Screenwriting Contest finalists will be honored, takes place at the Los Feliz 3 Cinemas.

Los Feliz 3 Cinemas
1822 Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

United Film Festival




Norwich, England – United Kingdom
April 28 to May 4, 2013


Upcoming Deadline: October 31

The 3rd Annual Norwich Film Festival (NFF) celebrates the art of short-form filmmaking, annually attracting storytellers from all over the world and presenting a diverse assortment of films, Q&As, workshops, and more. The city of Norwich provides the ideal environment for a deep-dive exploration of film, character, and story. The city truly comes alive with cinema, as films are shown on the lawns of the Norwich Castle, the screens of the Norwich Playhouse, and everywhere in between.


They are now accepting submissions for the 3rd Norwich Film Festival, for more information, visit the Submissions page. They are very much looking forward to seeing more of your fantastic work, and giving the public a chance to experience a side of cinema they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to see.


The winner of each competitive category will receive £250, and the work deemed Best Film overall will be awarded an additional £750. But the real reward is the network that NFF participants build, often leading to career-launching success. Student filmmaker Rhiannon Evans secured representation shortly after her film, Heartstrings, won the Best Student Film award at the festival, and Eric D. Howell’s Best in Festival-winning film, Ana’s Playground, went on to screen at the Winter Olympics and a United Nations summit. Submit your live action or animated short film today for the chance to be a part of the Norwich Film Festival’s dynamic program in 2013!





Los Angeles, California – USA
March 15 to 17, 2013 Upcoming Deadline: October 15

Telefest is announcing its Call for Entries for pilot presentations, films and documentaries for networks/cable, web series and teleplays.

The weekend venue in Los Angeles, March 2013 will feature the Awards Show, with category winners awarded a Viewer’s Choice Award and an Industry Choice Award, as is applicable. The venue also features Q&A panels with our judges (streamed live) and an opening night reception for industry and our top finalists in each category.

Telefest – Viral, Independent Television Festival seeks to revolutionize the television landscape by bridging the gap between artists and audiences. Through a platform that offers direct feedback before a new television series is fully developed, Telefest aims to give viewers and industry players exactly what they’re looking for. The festival will present awards for both Viewers’ Choice and Industry Choice, in addition to fostering deal-making and networking amongst participants.

Telefest offers an interactive experience through the Telefest Social Network, where viewers can create online profiles, rate and review finalists’ submissions, and engage with the Telefest venue via Livestream. The festival will culminate with a Los Angeles showcase packed with industry players eager to discover fresh talent. Telefest accepts pilot presentations, teleplays, or feature film concepts that may have television appeal. Prepare to connect with audiences and prospective buyers at this exciting new event; submit your work to Telefest – Viral, Independent Television Festival today!

Interactive Documentary Conference IDFA

Nov 18, 2012:

25th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam


Mark your calendars! On Sunday, November 18, the FORUM and IDFA DocLab (which is celebrating its fifth anniversary) will organize the Interactive Documentary Conference: DisruptiveTimelines, a one-day symposium on digital and interactive storytelling.

The conference will cover the very latest trends and developments in creating interactive stories, acquiring funds, and generating audience engagement. It will include keynote speeches from some of the world’s leading digital pioneers and multimedia artists. Keep an eye on our website for more information!

The FORUM and DocLab

In recent years, critically acclaimed projects such as Gaza/Sderot, Prison Valley, From Zero – People Rebuilding Life after the Emergency, and 24h Berlin have been pitched at the FORUM. Many of these later premiered at DocLab, IDFA’s program for digital documentary storytelling.

Since 2008, IDFA DocLab has been exploring the relationship between documentary filmmaking and new media. The IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Documentary Storytelling is open to all digital and interactive media that can be used to tell a documentary story. During IDFA, DocLab showcases an annual selection of the best interactive documentaries and other new forms of digital documentary art and storytelling. Projects are presented as installations, live cinema events, and on the IDFA DocLab website, which currently features over 100 projects.

Laugh Out Loud Short Film Festival

2 Annual January 11, 2013 to March 31, 2013

Want your short film screened in commercial movie theatres throughout North America?  You’ve come to the right place.

An estimated 17,000 short films are produced annually, yet only a tiny fraction ever sees an audience that isn’t positioned in front of a computer screen.  Sure, traditional short film festivals offer exhibition to an art-house crowd looking for alternatives.  But what about the masses?  Isn’t that what being a filmmaker is all about?  What better environment for screening your film than in front of mainstream audiences at commercial movie theatres throughout North America?

LOLSFF enables short comedy films to be viewed by mainstream audiences at commercial movie theatres throughout North America.

This festival leverages our Director’s relationships built over a 2O year career in the exhibition industry. With current customers representing hundreds of movie theatres and thousands of movie screens, we give comedy shorts the opportunity to be seen on the big screen. Likewise, audiences get a chance to see outstanding comedy films in the comfort and familiarity of their local cinema within a structure they are accustomed to.
Joe Edick (Festival Registrar) ; Joe Edick (Festival Registrar) ; Joe Edick (Festival Registrar)


1. Only completed entries (including entry form, payment, and DVD) will be processed and considered for screening.

2. Film must NOT have screened outside of the filmmaker’s local US television market prior to the Festival in order to be eligible for a Festival screening. Films shown outside of the filmmaker’s home market, but shown in a single market, will be eligible. By submitting, you agree to allow LOLSFF to exhibit your film during its 2013 festivals, regardless of subsequent distribution deals secured after the submission process.

3. Productions produced after December 2009 are eligible.

4. Productions must provide their screener on DVD Region 0 or 1 unless previously arranged.

5. Entries must be postmarked by October 19th, 2012. Late entries will be accepted until October 19th, 2012 provided that the entry is accompanied by the late entry fee (see entry fee section).

6. Entrant confirms and warrants required legal authority to submit the entry into the Festival and to use all music, images and content in the entry.

7. Entrant will allow usage of clips from the entry and all related publicity material submitted for promotional use on television, radio, in print, web and at live Festival events.

8. All entries must be either in English or contain English subtitles. Non-English entries submitted without subtitles or with supplementary printed translations will be automatically disqualified.

9. We will NOT look at works in progress.

10. All Decisions by judges, programmers and organizers will be final and NO REFUND of entry fee will be permitted.

11. Digital exhibition format will be used; therefore, if selected, producers must submit an NTSC HD format for exhibition.

12. Filmmakers will pay all transportation costs of shipping their materials to the festival.


San Jose, California – USA
February 26 to March 10, 2013

October 15, 2012 – Regular Deadline

The Cinequest Film Festival integrates the worlds of cinematic creativity and innovation to transform lives for the better. It is dedicated to empowering voices of all backgrounds in the effort to tell stories with cultural and social significance, always daring to act as a catalyst of dynamic change in a cookie-cutter world.

Cinequest also maintains its own Mavericks Studio, an enterprise that co-produces and distributes high-quality motion pictures, documentaries, television programs, and new media that demonstrate artistic ingenuity, social responsibility, leadership, and innovation. Its most recent undertaking, Life is Love, chronicles the true-life journey of Somaly Mam, a leader in the movement to free young girls from the horrors of human trafficking. The film is currently in production in Somalia, and furthers Mavericks Studio’s mission to deliver impactful stories that can truly change lives.

Variety declares, “Cinequest has consistently managed to pull in heavyweight guests,” and Ain’t It Cool News calls the festival “a state-of-the-art digital extravaganza like you’ve probably never seen.” For your chance to rub elbows with industry vets and discover new film talent and technology, submit your work to the Cinequest Film Festival today!

The 23rd Annual Cinequest Film Festival, is showcasing premier films, emerging artists, and breakthrough technologies that empower global connectivity between creators and innovators. Cited by Chris Gore’s Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide as an event that “sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends,” Cinequest is part innovation lab, part storyteller’s paradise, and always one-of-a-kind. Its originality annually attracts more than 90,000 attendees – a mix of seasoned artists, up-and-coming talents, and industry players interested in discovering the latest developments in film and technology.

Cinequest’s stellar reputation hinges in no small part on its knack for exhibiting a potent mix of immersive stories from around the globe, and for securing distribution for many of its honored filmmakers. IFC Films, MSNBC Films, Lionsgate, PBS, and HBO have all signed deals with some of Cinequest’s big success stories, and this year’s festival is primed to launch an entirely new crop of talented filmmakers onto the scene. As an Academy-qualifying festival for the short film categories, Cinequest is proud to honor the winners of its Best Short Narrative and Best Short Animation prizes with a shot at every filmmaker’s dream – Oscar gold.

New this year, Cinequest will present $25,000 USD cash prizes to the winners of the Knight Foundation Audience Favorite Feature and Audience Favorite Documentary awards. The festival also presents several category awards in addition to special recognitions such as Best First Feature Film, the New Visions Award, and the Global Vision Award. Winners are announced at the closing night celebration as well as in two press releases and on the festival’s website. Exhibiting filmmakers receive VIP passes granting access to all screenings, opening and closing night parties, and the VIP Lounge. Filmmakers also receive exclusive hotel deals while attending the festival.

Black Maria Film + Video Festival

32 Annual February 01, 2013 to September 27, 2013

The Black Maria Film Festival annually conducts an international juried competition followed by a multi month tour of the award works to cultural and centers, museums and colleges across the nation and abroad thus fulfilling its mission to advocate, exhibit and reward diverse short works up to an hour long made by independent film and videomakers. The festival is widely appreciated for its abiding commitment to independent short works.

Following the jurying process conducted by well qualified and knowledgeable panelist, the festival launches its national tour each February. 60 or more host institutions welcome the Black Maria Festival, where each individual program is custom tailored, ensuring an accessible and meaningful experience for varied audiences in at least 20 or more states coast to coast.

The Festival was initiated over 32 years ago at the world’s first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison at his West Orange, NJ labs a short distance from Manhattan. The 1893 studio was nicknamed Black Maria because it was reminiscent of police paddy wagons of the times. It had a hinged roof and rotated on a circular wooden track, allowing the building to track the sun and illuminate the stage within.The Black Maria is an important landmark from the dawn of moving pictures. Acrobats, strong men, vaudeville performers, actors and dancers (such as sharpshooter Anne Oakley, Buffalo Bill, and dancer Annabelle Whitford whose artful and edgy Serpentine and Butterfly dances challenged late Victorian mores were invited to the Black Maria to be filmed. Only shorts were made in the studio.


Since 1981 the Black Maria Film + Video Festival – named after the world’s first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison – The Festival Mission has been to celebrate and recognize diverse independent shorts up to 1 hr. or shorter and made within 3.5 years of the submission date. We conduct a juried annual competition with awards to 40 to 60 works chosen for the tour to 60 or more host venues per season. It is the tradition of lively inquiry, innovation, open artistic exploration, independent vision, and illumination of the human condition in all of it’s manifestations that motivates the festival’s work on behalf of contemporary film and video.

Moviemaker’s Spring 2010 issue lists the Black Maria Film + Video Festival as one of “25 Film Festival Worth the Entry Fee in 2010.”

In varied years, the Black Maria has been recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and has been covered on National Public Radio, awarded recognition by The New Jersey State Council on the Arts for excellence three years in a row. Following it’s annual premiere at New Jersey City University just across the Hudson from NYC, the Festival travels to such notable venues as The National Gallery of Arts in Washington, DC, The American University of Rome, DesMoines Art Center, Princeton University, The Edison Ford Winter Estates – Ft. Myers FL, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, New York Public Library Branches, Berks Filmmakers and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Colgate University, Savannah College of Art and Design, University of Colorado-Bolder, University of Oregon, Bentley and Emerson College,
Rhode Island School of Design, University of the Arts-Philadelphia, Lascaux Micro Theater in Buckhannon, WV, Alabama Filmmakers’ Coop, Monmouth University,and others.

John Columbus (Festival Director) ; John Columbus (Festival Director) ; John Columbus (Festival Director) ; John Columbus (Festival Director) ; John Columbus (Festival Director) ; Kerrie Young (Operations Associate/Festival Tour Coordinator) ; Marilyn Consulmagno (Business Manager)

The Festival welcomes submission of diverse short works no longer than 1 hour, total running time, into its annual juried competition. Submissions are sought and accepted starting at the end of August annually and running to deadline at the end of November each year. Early submission is highly recommended. Following jurying, winning works are included in the Festival’s multi state tour. Works may be considered according to categories but leaves it up to the entrant should she or he wish not to submit according to any particular category. For those who’d like to use categories the Festival suggests the following range:

•hybrid form
•no category

We simply seek fresh, lively and/or exploratory works in any genre which demonstrate such qualities as: creative vitality, human insight or sensitivity, edginess, free spiritedness, lyricism, whimsy, boldness, etc.

Works by and about people with disabilities are also welcomed.

The Festival will offer four ranges of recognition:

• Stellar Awards – 4 or 5 of these highest awards will be made around the following genres: documentary, fiction, animation, hybrid/open form, and experimental- alternative.
•Jury’s Choice – Equivalent to 1st Prize, without specifying category, typically 15 or so works are selected for the annual tour program.

•Jury’s Citation – Equivalent to 2nd Prize, without specifying category, typically 15 or so works are selected for the annual tour program.

Director’s Choice – Equivalent to 3rd Prize, without specifying category typically 20 or more works are selected for the annual tour program .

Director’s Citation – Equivalent to Honorable Mention, without specifying category typically 15 or so works are selected and will be listed on the website this coming season.

Entry Formats:
The submission format is DVD, regardless of the original production format. Although DVD is most often used for exhibition purposes, other exhibition formats may be preferred by certain select venues if work is released in: 35mm, 16mm, or mini-DV (NTSC) and other digital formats.

Awards & Prizes:
Awardees will be announced as soon as possible following the jurying at the end of December. Tour Honoraria will be determined shortly after the end of the Festival Fiscal Year and Tour



Liverpool, England – United Kingdom
February 1 to 3, 2013

October 7, 2012 – Regular Deadline

The mission of Liverpool Lift-Off is to provide student and independent filmmakers and screenwriters with a platform for exposure to a global audience. Through seminars, workshops, and the guidance of working professional filmmakers, Liv-Off also aims to prepare film artists for the challenges of tomorrow.

Perhaps best known as the home of The Beatles, Liverpool is a robust cultural center within the United Kingdom, offering an abundance of music hot spots, museums, performing arts, nightlife, and literature. In 2008, the city was honored as the European Capital of Culture by the European Union, and its contribution to the arts community hasn’t slowed since. See for yourself what makes Liverpool such a welcoming destination for artists…submit your film or script to the Liverpool Lift-Off International Film Festival today!

The Liverpool Lift-Off International Film Festival (LivOff), is an exciting new festival designed to showcase talents in storytelling, acting, and artistic vision. Bursting with film enthusiasts, providing a supportive environment, and offering plenty to see, do, and explore, LivOff is a place where small budgets and big dreams combine to give a powerful boost to budding film careers.

Adhering to its credo of “Look beyond the gloss,” LivOff is not drawn to flash or fancy effects. The focus of this celebration, and of each of the works it chooses to champion, is the potency of story. The festival welcomes films and scripts that are inspirational, challenging, heart-felt, daring, dangerous, dark, or light. LivOff accepts narrative or documentary films, feature-length scripts, short scripts, and television scripts – anything with a strong story that will move an audience.

Additional Lift-Off festivals take place in London, Las Vegas, and Long Beach; the top films in each category will also be offered a slot in the lineup of these Lift-Off events, providing additional exposure opportunities to winning films and filmmakers. Winners in screenplay categories at Liverpool Lift-Off will also benefit from hearing their honored screenplays performed and directed on stage by industry professionals – an invaluable experience that prepares any writer for the next big step in his or her career.

Athens International Film + Video Festival (Ohio)

40 Annual  –  April 12, 2013 to April 18, 2013

The Athens International Film and Video Festival‘s purpose is to celebrate independent and alternative motion picture arts. This entails a commitment to: educating our regional audiences about the cinematic arts; and supporting, through presentation, the work of artists from around the globe.

The Athens International Film and Video Festival started in 1974, has continuously since then maintained a vision and identity that celebrates avant-garde, independent, alternative, and world media, from 35mm feature films, 16mm films, video, and now digital media and interactive installations.

We are located in rural southeast Ohio, and often take advantage of our beautiful location to sponsor outdoor screenings and media events.

Our competition for independent media artists includes a broad diversity of artists, genres, and approaches. Prizes are determined by jurors consisting of guest artists, and other professionals in the field.

We are an Academy Qualifying Festival in the short and animated short film categories.

The Athens International Film and Video Festival also sponsors guest artists screenings, that often include workshops and additional opportunities for artists to meet with audience members and students.

Our Festival also includes a Feature Film Showcase, highlighting the latest in global cinema.

OPEN CALL FOR ENTRIES • Select a Category of Entry to continue.

Works that strive to expand the formal and content boundaries of motion picture arts, and that express personal involvement with the medium.
Documentary Short
Works that utilize nonfiction material to construct a story, an argument, and/or a statement about the real world. The total running time for a documentary short is no longer than 40 minutes.
Narrative Short
Works that tell a fictional story. Narrative shorts must have a running time of 40 minutes, or less.
Documentary Feature
Works that utilize nonfiction material to construct a story, an argument, and/or a statement about the real world. The total running time for a documentary feature is a minimum of 40 minutes.
Narrative Feature
Works that tell a fictional story. Narrative features must have a running time of 40 minutes, or more.
Works, of any length, that utilize animation techniques, including but not limited to: traditional drawing, stop-motion, computer animation, and other technical processes for generating non-live-action films.


Palm Springs, California – USA
January 3 to 14, 2013

October 5, 2012 – Regular Deadline

The Palm Springs International Film Festival seeks to promote and celebrate outstanding film and the people who create it. The festival also presents the Academy Award-qualifying Palm Springs International ShortFest and Short Film Market.

Throughout its many years on the festival scene, the Palm Springs International Film Festival has discovered and screened the earliest works from some of the most admired filmmakers working today, including Guillermo del Toro (Cronos), M. Night Shyamalan (Praying with Anger), and John Madden (Ethan Frome). Submit your feature-length film to the Palm Springs International Film Festival today for the chance to join this esteemed lineup of powerhouse talents in 2013!

The 24th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), is presenting more than 180 feature films from more than 70 countries and attracting over 133,000 attendees to one of Southern California’s most beautiful desert destinations. With its temperate weather, warm-hearted locals, proximity to Los Angeles’ bustling industry, and eclectic array of screen-sizzling cinema, PSIFF is not only a world-renowned circuit stop, it’s also an incredible place to kick off the new year in style.

All exhibiting filmmakers are invited to attend nightly networking mixers, special events, receptions, and the PSIFF awards gala, which has previously featured guest speakers and honorees including Brad Pitt, Kate Winslet, George Clooney, Michelle Williams, Glenn Close, Sean Penn, Ann Hathaway, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Throughout the 12-day celebration, PSIFF deftly weaves Hollywood’s A-list celebrities with soon-to-be discovered talents from the world of independent filmmaking. Filmmakers in competition vie for some of the most prestigious honors on the film festival circuit, including the John Schlesinger Filmmaker Prize for Outstanding Debut Feature, the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI), the juried New Visions Award, and PSIFF Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary.

Exhibiting filmmakers enjoy complimentary hotel accommodations, shuttle bus transportation, and full access to the PSIFF Industry and Hospitality Center – which provides a relaxed atmosphere for both business and fun during the festival. Participating filmmakers will also find notable opportunities for worldwide exposure through festival coverage in such far-reaching outlets as Entertainment Tonight, USA Today, Access Hollywood, The New York Times, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Magazine, Moving Pictures Magazine, Newsweek, People Magazine, Time, US Weekly, The Washington Post, and many others.