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How to Submit a Film To The Sundance Film Festival?


How to Submit a Film To The Sundance Film Festival?

How to submit a Film To the Sundance? Here’s a Step by step Explanation about the process and guidelines for submitting a film to the Sundance Film Festival. Sundance Film Festival is a very important event for independent filmmakers since the festival welcomes the film and theatre of independent artists. Like every event, in this case also, some rules and regulations have to be observed. Therefore, some confusion is evident. Therefore in order to make it easy and hassle free we have come up with a detailed list of all the rules to be followed. Here are the detailed tips on how to submit a film to this festival.

The Deadlines and The Fees:

Those who are submitting films to the Sundance after the early-bird deadline may have to pay double of the usual submission fee. This is why we are recommending you to submit your work by the scheduled deadline in order to avoid paying extra. Let’s take a look at the different deadlines along with fees.

  • Deadline for Early Submissions:

U.S. and other International Short Films: 3rd August 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee- $40

Feature Films from U.S. and other countries: 10th August 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee-$60

  • Deadline for Official Submissions:

U.S. and other International Short Films: 24th August 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee- $60

Feature Films from U.S. and other countries: 31st August 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee- $80

      • Deadline for Late Submissions:

U.S. and other International Short Films: 21st September 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee- $80

U.S. AND International Feature Films: 28th September 2017 (Or the same year): Entry fee- $110

One thing is required to be noticed that in case your film arrived at the office after the original deadline date for which you have registered, you will be informed promptly to make the additional payment. In case you want to send us the physical disk, it is advisable to send it long before the original deadline in order to avoid problems.

What Are the Categories?

People often wonder about the specific categories of films that are supposed to be submitted to this film festival. Every year Sundance tend to select approximately 120 to 125 Feature Films and more or less 60 to 80 Short Films to be screened in one of the 13 Festival events. It’s better to go through the six categories and then submit your film under one of them. Let’s take a look at the categories:

  • Narrative Feature Films from U.S.

This area includes any kind of narrative work of fiction from U.S. origin which has a running time of 50 minutes or more. This category includes films shot in “mockumentary” style. The submitted works must be either scripted or improvisational fiction work in order to be qualified as U.S. Narrative Feature Film. Apart from this, half of the work’s financing must be drawn from the sources within U.S.A. Even though the main thrust is on finance, the final decision is supposed to be dependent upon certain other factors like the primary shooting location, languages spoken in the film, nationalities of the main cast and crew member.

In general, Sundance select films which are World Premieres for out U.S. Dramatic Competition Program but U.S. Narrative Feature Films which are shown at two other film festivals are eligible also for the ‘out-of-competition’ programs.

Any U.S. Narrative Feature Film that is supposed to be exhibited publicly or broadcasted on television or released via the internet or home video or by Blue-ray, DVD before 31st January are not eligible.

  • Feature Films and U.S. Documentary Film:

This category includes any non-fiction film from U.S. origin of a length of more or less 50 minutes without an entire fictionalized account of the actual events. You can submit your documentary even if it contains some partly dramatized events but ultimately the decision will be of us to consider which category suits your project best. The rest of the requirements remain as same as the earlier one.

  • Narrative Feature Films of International Origin:

This category contains any narrative work of fiction of international origin with a length of 50 minutes or more. The category also includes films which are shot in “mockumentary” style. In order to be qualified as international film, half of the financing of the project must be done by sources outside U.S. Rest of the requirements remain same as the U.S. Narrative Films.

  • Documentary Feature Films of International Origin:

Any kind of non-fiction film of International origin which is based on real events can be considered as Documentary Films. Your work can contain part dramatization of actual events but in that case, we will take the ultimate decision on where to put your work. Half of the project’s financing must be drawn from sources outside U.S. The rest of the things remain same as the Documentary Feature Films from America.

  • Short Films from U.S.:

This division includes any narrative fiction film or any documentary of U.S. origin with a length of less than 50 minutes, including the credits. The main requirement is that the size of the short films should not exceed 10 GB file size in-case of digital uploads or the film must fit on a single disk in any of the prescribed forms which include Blue-ray, DVD and so on. Your project will be qualified as U.S. Short film only when half of the financing must come from the U.S. sources. Unlike the earlier categories, short films don’t have any restriction or premier requirements to be eligible. The films may have been screened at any public theaters or streamed on the internet.

  • Short Films of International Origins:

Any kind of narrative fiction or documentary film of international origin with a running time of less than 50 minutes is eligible for the category. In order to be qualified as international, half of the project’s financing has to be drawn from sources outside U.S. The rest of the requirement remains same as the short films from U.S.

Watch: How To Get A Movie Into The Sundance Film Festival? A Video Essay By Film Courage 


What Is The Eligibility Criteria?

This film festival comprises of 6 competition categories and 7 non-competition categories. The rules and regulations sometimes may change from time to time and it is advisable to take a note of that. Films that are selected in any of those 6 categories are automatically eligible for jury or audience awards in their respective sections or both. Here is a detailed list on the competition categories.

  • U.S. Dramatic Competition:

This competition is held among the selected feature films of U.S. origin. As the name suggests the competition provides the audience a glimpse at the revolutionary, strong and bold work by the independent filmmakers which initiates a long lasting impact on the new, modern wave of American films. These movies stand out due to their immense maturity of story and acting.

  • U.S. Documentary Competition:

This documentary films define the contemporary time frame and discuss about the issues related to human rights, culture, socio-political conflicts and so on.

  • World Films Dramatic Competition:

The competition is held among 12 international narrative feature films with unique and innovative approach and story. The main aim is to show regards for the independent filmmakers throughout the world.

  • World Documentary Film Competition:

The competition includes films from different origins except U.S. which deal with universal issues.

  • Short Film Competition:

Equipped with sound modern technology, editing skill and animation, short films of both U.S. origin and International ones are eligible for this competition. These films are eligible for Short Film Grand Jury Prize, as well as Jury prizes within other categories like U.S. Fiction, International Fiction, Non-fiction, and Animation.

The 7 non-competition categories are the following:

  • U.S. and International Feature Films:

There is not any restriction regarding the premier for the films selected under this category.

  • U.S. & International Films:

These films are known for their bizarre representation of horror genre or sci-fi genre. These films generally are most likely to amuse and entertain the audience with exaggerated comedy or stories with weird elements, presenting a topsy-turvy condition.

  • New Frontier Feature Films:

The films under this section welcomes and celebrates the modern technology, the blurring genres of art, new media and so on in order to go beyond the traditional aesthetic set ups.

  • Documentary Premiers:

This category includes films of both U.S. and International origin. Acceptance into this category is by invitation only but once it’s accepted, the film must maintain the standard of a world movie. The movie must have a running time of at least 50 minutes.

  • Sundance Kids:

This category is introduced to this film festival so that both the young generation and the older ones can enjoy some of the evergreen films of all time. The main aim is to actively engage the kids and younger generation into the captivating world of cinema. This program is a joint product along with Tumbleweeds and Utah’s Premiere Film Festival for Children and Youth.

  • Sundance Collection:

This category enables the viewers to rediscover the past glory of the independent cinema by screening films of both U.S. and International origin, saved in the Sundance Collection archive at UCLA. This is also a joint collaboration of Sundance Film Festival, UCLA Film Festival, and Television archive. This is also an invitation-only category.

Watch: Things Y0u Keep In Mind Before Submitting a Film To a Film Festival


Sundance Film Submission Rules- General

Since this is a film festival with lots of categories and competitions it is not unnatural to be confused. In order to lessen the problem, here we are with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on how to get a film into sundance.

  • Can Films be Submitted as Rough Cut:

In general, many films are submitted in unfinished condition and it does not affect the decision but there is supposed to be a consistency, for example if the original version of your film is 2 hours long, it will be wise not to send a1 hour version. If possible, provide an on-screen version of the missing elements to maintain the continuity.

  • What Does ‘Ticketed Public Theatrical Exhibition’ Mean?

The term refers to the screening of your completed project at a film festival or anywhere where general audience buys tickets to watch it. If you want to screen your unfinished project in order to collect the fund to complete it, this won’t be considered as ‘ticketed public exhibition’. Invitation-based screening or any private screening will also not be termed as this one.

  • Is There Any Age Limit of The Films for the Submission:

All the films to be submitted are required to be made just one or two years before the date of the actual event, not more than that.

  • Can A Film Be Resubmitted?

Many times, filmmakers wonder whether they can resend the films which got rejected last year. In order to do so, you need to change the film very significantly from its earlier version in order to maintain the quality of the film festival.

  • Submission Format:

You must use the Withoutabox Secure Online Screener System in order to submit your film through Vimeo link either entered directly on the submission application or mailed to the event management on a single Blue-ray disk or DVD.  This may take an entireday and that’s why you better not wait till the deadline. Here are the necessary settings:

  • Frame Rate: 24, 25 or 30 FPS
  • Format: MP4, WMV, AVI or Quicktime
  • Codes: Due to the best streaming result, H.264 video with AAC audio is the best.
  • HD Resolution: The ideal resolution is 1280*720, 1920*1080
  • SD Solution: 640*360 or 640*480

It is advisable to not submit more than one film on one single disk. In that case we will go through the first one only. In order to save time and confusion, we welcome Blue-ray or DVD that directly begins your movie and goes on without any disruption. It is of high preference that you should send NTSC region free or region 1 DVD. In case otherwise, be careful to mention it. Write the information directly on the face of the disk.

  • International Films:

If the films contain dialogues or languages other than English you need to add English subtitles and the subtitles are needed to be hardcoded on the video file in order to save time.

  • Animated Films:

Incase of animated films too, you need to follow the guidelines given by the other categories, based on the story line, financial resources and so on.

  • Address:

In case you want to mail us your project, you have to write your Withoutabox number on envelop and send it to Loss Angeles, CA 900036. Also you can mail it to

  • Multiple Versions of Film:

Yes, you can send multiple versions of your film under different categories, but for that different versions of your film must have different project page and unique tracking id. For each separate category you need to pay separate fee.

  • Films with Temporary Music track:

Yes, you can submit your film with temporary music tracks but as mentioned earlier please provide detailed information about the missing pieces.

  • Online Application:

You need to get a unique tracking number for your project which you can get only by applying online form at or through Withoutabox. In case you are having trouble you can contact us through

  • Right Clearance:

Regarding the copyright issue you must have the right clearance in order to avoid any confusion. You have to sign a statement stating that the materials used by the film are completely unique and not plagiarized.

  • Submission:

People often wonder what they should include while submitting the film. All you need to submit is a single copy of your project in a disk form. You can pack it in a medium, bubble wrapped envelop to prevent damage. You can provide the necessary information by using a permanent marker only.

  • Mail Mishaps:

In case your mail get lost and remain unable to reach us, we will definitely contact you as soon as possible and ask you to resend another copy. Since the submission number is huge, sometimes it is not possible for us to contact each of you in case we don’t get your film. The responsibility, therefore it is your responsibility to collect the information. Sending a newer cut of the film that you have already sent can also cause problems and confusion.

  • Return of the Disk:

Since the application numbers are huge, it is difficult and impossible for us to resend any of your disk or DVD. Instead, we make sure that those disks remain secured within the safe hands.

  • Online Posting of Trailers:

You can post-minimal trailers or video clips of the film that you have sent to us. This does not affect or violate the eligibility criteria.

  • Age Limit of Filmmakers:

We are pleased to announce that there is no age limit for the filmmakers so that the diversity and quality remain intact. Only if you are not adult we will need a signed statement from your guardians after your film gets acceptance.

  • Change of Contact Details:

One problematic area is the change of contact details after submission. In that case, you can log into your account at and update new information.

  • Notification Regarding Acceptance:

During the first week of December, we will definitely contact you through email. In case you don’t get to hear from us after December 10th, please feel free to inform us.

  • Exhibition Format:

We prefer DCP format along with 35 mm film prints. Films delivered on DCP format must include at least 2 copies of CRU as well as a non-DCP backup. All of these DCPs must be DCI compliant with the drives formatted with EXT 2 or 3 file systems. All the encrypted DCPs must supply DKDM keys which remain open for the duration of the entire festival. Blu-ray or ProRes file backup copies must be provided also for both Short and Feature Films on DCP. For 35mm film prints, we generally screen 24fps in aspect ratios of 1.37, 1.66, 1.85, or 2.39. We prefer sound formats of mono, Dolby SR and Dolby SRD. Please make it a note that these specifications are subject to change. In case your film is accepted into the Festival, we will definitely provide you with the most recent exhibition news and deadlines for delivery of your project within that time.

  • Selection:

If your project is delivered within the deadline and with the prescribed fees, we will definitely watch it. Therefore you need to rigorously follow the rules. We encourage and prefer films with independent spirits which are interesting, informative, encouraging and revolutionary in an exemplary way.

  • Rejection:

No matter how much we want to interact with each individual filmmaker about their projects, it is not really possible for us to contact more than 12000 applicants due to time issue. However, needless to say, you must not feel discouraged regarding this since we think of each filmmaker as worthy as the selected ones.

  • Submission Fees:

This is a nonprofit institution which arranges many different events which are needed for people associated with film, theater. Fees from the submission process help us to fund these events and maintain the submission procedure. Unfortunately, the fees are non-refundable.

Hopefully, you can clear your doubts through these tips and get a concise idea about how to submit a film to Sundance Film Festival.

View More at Official website of Sundance:

Also Watch: Sundance Premiered Short Film ‘Lunch’ Directed By Matthew Ehlers

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Hailed from Kolkata, Bijuri is well known as Researcher and English linguistics Expert. She is interested in diverse of arenas including- Literature, Independent Cinema, Indian Literature, Cultural Studies, and poetry. She is working as an Article writer with Filmmakers Fans

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. bollywoodnazar

    November 17, 2016 at 9:26 am

    In case your film is accepted into the Festival, we will definitely provide you with the most recent exhibition news and deadlines for delivery of your project within that time. The article is very interesting… thanks for sharing with us.. keep it up!!!
    latest bollywood news


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