Cinematic Splendour: The Best Short Film Festivals Around the Globe
Join us as we unearth the best short film festivals around the globe for filmmakers and film connoisseurs alike.
Whether you hope to submit an entry and see it on the big screen – or discover the next big flick before anyone else, you'll certainly find something that can pique your interest.
From Europe to Africa, Asia and Australia, there is a variety to choose from too.
While some festivals are purely for short films, others are more prominent festivals containing short film categories.
If you're looking for the best short film festivals in the world, Europe, home to three of the "big five" international film festivals, is a great place to start.
CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
'BlacKkKlansman' cast at Cannes Film Festival 2018. Credit: Georges Biard/Wikimedia Commons
The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most celebrated events of its kind. The Promenade De La Croisette in Cannes, France, will host the 2023 festival from May 16 to 27.
Eligibility requirements: Thirty-five minutes maximum, new entries only, no previous broadcasting online, English subtitles or in English.
Submission deadline: TBC.
Prizes: The "Short Film Palme D'Or".
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
The Raindance Film Festival is the UK's largest independent film festival.
The 2023 event will be held in London between Oct 25 and Nov 4. Raindance occurs across three venues: the Vue Piccadilly at Lower Regent Street, Cafe De Paris on Coventry Street, and the Century Club at Shaftesbury Avenue.
Eligibility requirements: Forty-five minutes maximum.
Submission deadline: April 10, May 8 and June 12.
Prizes: Awards for "Best Short" of the festival, "Best UK Short", "Best Documentary Short", "Best Animation Short" and "Best Music Video".
VENICE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Robert Redford and Shia LaBeouf at the 69th Venice International Film Festival (2012). Credit: fry_theonly/Wikimedia Commons
The 80th Venice International film festival will take place in Lido Di Venezia, Venice, Italy.
Although the 2023 date hasn't been announced, it's estimated to take place from the end of August to early September.
Eligibility requirements: World premieres only, no commercial distribution/exhibition online, new entries only, 20 minutes maximum.
Submission deadline: TBC (typically June).
Prizes: The "Orizzonti Award For Short Film".
North America hosts a plethora of short film festivals. Discover a few of the most talked-about shows from a cross-section of states.
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
Sundance Film Festival sign (2015). Credit: Travis Wise/Wikimedia Commons
While searching for the best short film festivals in North America, it would be hard to miss the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Sundance is the largest independent film festival in the US, and short films will be one of the areas covered between Jan 19 and 29, 2023.
Eligibility requirements: Fifty minutes maximum, new entries only, no previously broadcasted/streamed films, films must have been completed after Jan 1, 2021.
Submission deadline: Sept 5, 2023.
Prizes: The "Short Film Grand Jury Prize".
Film lovers flood the streets of New York City, New York, every spring to feast their eyes on the Tribeca Festival.
Formerly known as the Tribeca Film Festival, the "film" was dropped from the name in 2021 with the introduction of a video game category.
Short filmmakers still have plenty of opportunities here, as they'll discover between June 7 and 18, 2023.
Eligibility requirements: Under 40 minutes, no prior public screenings/broadcasts.
Submission deadline: Nov 30, Jan 11 and Feb 22.
Prizes: Awards for "Best Narrative Short", "Best Documentary Short", "Best Animated Short" and others.
TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL
Held on Labour Day Weekend (the first Monday in September), the Telluride Film Festival is hosted annually in Telluride, Colorado.
The upcoming 2023 event will be the festival's 50th edition.
Eligibility requirements: Sixty minutes maximum, no previously broadcast/streamed films.
Accepting submissions: TBC.
Prizes: "The real prize in Telluride is to be accepted from hundreds of entries as one of approximately 25 shorts and 30 features that will be showcased at the festival." (from Telluride's website).
If you needed an excuse to visit scenic Aspen, Colorado, here it is. Aspen Shortsfest is an Oscar-qualifying film festival recognised by many as one of the best in the US.
Filmmakers wanting to be a part of this event can do so between April 10 and 15, 2023.
Eligibility requirements: Forty minutes maximum, new entries only, no previous public broadcasts/streamings.
Submission deadline: Nov 28, 2022.
Prizes: Various prizes of US$1,000-US$2,500.
South America also has some of the best short film festivals today.
It may not be the most accessible location to travel to, but the scenic locales and warm climates are more than enough to entice film fans and critics alike.
RIO DE JANEIRO INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL
The Rio De Janeiro International Short Film Festival is a jam-packed event resulting from fusing two film festivals.
To avoid swamping the city of Rio De Janeiro with too many cinephiles in such a short space of time, the Rio Cine Festival and the Mostra Banco Nacional De Cinema merged in 1999.
Although no date has been announced, expect the 2023 Festival Do Rio, as it is also known, to take place sometime in autumn.
Eligibility requirements: Digital Format, 30 minutes maximum, new entries only.
Accepting submissions: TBC.
Prizes: "Grand Prix" of the Festival Curta Cinema, "Special Jury Prize", "Best Director, Public Award", "Latin American Panorama Public Award", plus others.
CARTAGENA DE INDIAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Tilda Swinton at the 2018 Cartagena de Indias International Film Festival. Credit: Redes Black Velvet/Wikimedia Commons
Active since 1960, the Cartagena De Indias International Film Festival is just one of many reasons people travel to Cartagena, Columbia.
With a passion for Columbian, Ibero-American and world cinema, movie-goers and filmmakers can enjoy the festivities between March 22 and 27, 2023.
Eligibility requirements: English-spoken pieces must have Spanish subtitles, Spanish-spoken pieces must have English subtitles, other languages must have subtitles in both English and Spanish, 60 minutes maximum.
Submission deadline: December 19, 2022.
One of Asia's best short film festivals isn't as far away as you may think. Thanks to the wonder of the internet, film fanatics can enjoy this show from the comfort of their couch.
SHORT SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL & ASIA
One of Asia's largest international short film festivals, Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, will host its 25th edition between June 6 and 20, 2023.
The Tokyo Photographic Arts Museum will be home to the festivities, but don't worry if you can't make it to Japan in person; you can also watch the festival online.
Eligibility requirements: Under 25 minutes, English subtitles are required for films with languages other than English or Japanese, new entries only.
Submission deadline: Jan 31, 2023.
Prizes: Awards for international, Asian international, Japanese, non-fiction, cinematic Tokyo, animation, smartphone film, and branded shorts.
For the best short film festivals in Australia, Sydney is your destination.
What's more, you have the choice of experiencing a film festival in a classic theatre setting or while soaking up the sun on the beach. That's if you didn't fancy attending both.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
The Sydney Film Festival will celebrate its 70th year in 2023.
It will be held between June 7 and 18. As well as the festival's flagship venue, the State Theatre in Sydney, organisers will utilise other cinemas and multiplexes nearby.
Eligibility requirements: TBC.
Accepting submissions: November 2022.
Prizes: Various grants and prizes up to US$60,000.
FLICKERFEST INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Flickerfest International Film Festival (2010). Credit: Dan Terzian/Wikimedia Commons
If you want to attend a film festival in Australia without spending too much time inside, Bondi Beach in Sydney between Jan 21 and 30, 2023, is the place to be.
With the choice of watching films in the sun during the day and beneath the stars at night, Flickerfest International Film Festival stands out among the more established festivals.
Eligibility requirements: Thirty-five minutes maximum, no previous broadcasting/streaming, filmed in English or with English subtitles, films must have been completed within two years of entry.
Submission deadline: Oct 10, 2022.
Prizes: Awards for "Best Of EU Shorts", "Short Laughs Comedy", "FlickerUp" and "Rainbow Shorts".
Last but not least are the best short film festivals in Africa.
Makers of traditional films are more than welcome, of course, but there also happens to be a festival that caters specifically to horror fans.
SOUTH AFRICAN HORRORFEST
Although it was initially planned as a reason to scream on Halloween, the 2022 South African Horrorfest has been postponed.
The new dates are Nov 1 to 30. The venue (the Labia Theatre in Cape Town) remains the same.
Eligibility requirements: Non-English spoken films require English subtitles, 30 minutes maximum.
Submission deadline: July 1, 2022.
Prizes: Awards for "Best Short Film", "Best South African Short", "Best Comedy Short", "Gorefest Award, Best Music Based Short", "Best Animated Short" and "Best 1 Minute Short".
DURBAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
With this year's Durban International Film Festival not that far behind us, the 2023 show has no definitive date yet.
However, expect it to be held on virtual platforms and in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, next summer.
Eligibility requirements: Fiction or documentary under 40 minutes, new entries only, no previous broadcasting/streaming.
Submission deadline: TBC.
Prizes: R10,000 each for "Best Short Film", "Best African Short Film" and "Best South African Short Film".
Want to read more on festivals? Take a look at the following:
Cover Credit: A Paper Creative
Writer | D.B. Damage
D.B. Damage is a freelance content writer passionate about creative subjects like music, film, and video games. He studied I.T. and music technology at college and has a background in managing and promoting local bands.