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Ben Yennie: Top 10 Oscar-Qualifying Short film festivals

It’s March, so the Oscars are old news, but if you’re a Savvy Filmmaker, you’ll be planning on how to build your audience for the future.  Nothing does that quite like saying that you’re an Academy Award nominated (or winning) filmmaker.  But how do you actually qualify for the best narrative short film academy award or best animated short film academy award?  The easiest way is through qualifying festivals, so to Kick off Festival Month for our content here on ProductionNext, we’re giving your our top 10 short film festivals that can make you eligible for the academy award for best short film.

In order to get the most utility out of this list, we’re ignoring many of the festivals that are obvious contenders that you don’t have much chance at getting into.  As such, you won’t see Sundance, Cannes, or other Tier 1 festivals on this list.  We also limited ourselves to zests that focus primarily (if not exclusively) on shorts.  Finally, this list is very much OUR top 10.  If you think we missed one, mention it in the comments.  We might even publish your work on it through our blog syndication program.  

1. Aspen Shortsfest

This festival was the first one I ever went to, and it really opened my eyes to the grandeur of film.  It takes place in the lovely, celebrity-filled, and expensive town of Aspen Colorado.  The prizewinners for Best Animation, Best Comedy, Best Drama, and Best Short Short are all qualified for either the best live action or animated academy award.  2020 Deadline has passed but check back around May or June for submission deadlines for 2021.

Website: http://www.aspenfilm.org/

Submit via FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/AspenShortsfest

2. Hollyshorts

Disclosure: ProductionNext has had a sponsorship relationship with Hollyshorts in the past, but we do not currently have one as the time of publishing this article. 

Hollyshorts has been making waves and bringing short films back into a viable place in the market.  They also have several great prizes, including having your short script produced by some wonderful teams and production companies.  (one or two may have been shot on our platform.)

The prizes that make you eligible are the Best Short Film Grand Prize, Best Animated Short, and Best Live Action Short.  Regular Deadline is April 3, 2020, Late deadline is May 15, 2020.

Website: http://www.hollyshorts.com/

Submit Via FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/HollyShortsFilmFestival

3. SHOW ME SHORTS FILM FESTIVAL (New Zealand) Best Film 

Since we’ve been on all 7 continents since the week we’ve launched, (Antartica surprised us too) we try to be international in all of these sorts of blogs as well.  We don’t always succeed, but we try.  Here’s an Oscar qualifying short film fest from the Shire.  Excuse me, New Zealand.  Best film is the only thing that qualifies you though. Early Bird Deadline is April 1, Regular deadline is May 1, Late is June 1, Extended is July 1.  Get on submitting!

Website: www.showmeshorts.co.nz

FilmFreeway: http://www.showmeshorts.co.nz/


Here’s another one for our readers across the pacific.  The Best of Fest Prize winner gets into contention for the academy awards. Deadline has passed as of this year.  Check back around December for 2020.

Website: www.shortshorts.org

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/ShortShortsFilmFestivalAsia

5. Encounters Film Fest

Here’s one from Across the pond.  Winning either the Brief Encounter or the Animated Encounter Award at this Film Fest in the UK will qualify you for the oscars.  Regular Deadline is March 16, 2020 Late is May 7, 2020, and Final is June 14, 2020. 

Website: http://www.encounters-festival.org.uk/

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/EncountersFilmFestival

6. Palm Springs International ShortFest

The biggest benefit to palm springs is if you can make a splash there, you’ve got a better chance at connecting with some money’d interest to help make your debut feature.  If you win this here.  The Best Live Action under 15 minutes or Best Live Action over 15 minutes awards both qualify you for the best narrative short academy award, the best animated short qualifies you for the best Animated Short Academy Award, and the best of fest award qualifies you for either, depending on whether your film is live action or animated. 

The submission deadline has passed as of me publishing this, but not as of me writing it. I tweeted it out via our @Production_Next official account.  Follow us there so you don’t miss it next time. 

Website: https://www.psfilmfest.org/

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/PalmSpringsInternationalShortFest

7. LA Shortsfest

It really does all happen in LA.  If you’re in Cali, you’ve got little to no excuse not to submit here.  The Best of Fest, best animated short film, and best foreign short film all qualify you for the relevant short film academy award.  The submissions have already passed.  

Website: www.lashortsfest.com

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/losangelesshortfilmfestival

8. Filckerfest 

We can’t mention New Zealand without Mentioning Australia.  If we did, we may face some backlash from Wolverine doing a high kick.  If you win the best International Short Film or Best Australian Short Film you’ll qualify for the best live action academy award, if you win the Yoram Gross Award for Best International Animation you’ll qualify for the best animated short film.  Entries are currently closed, but will likely open again around may or June.  

Website: http://www.flickerfest.com.au/

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/flickerfest

9. German Short Film Awards

If you’re in Europe, the German Short Film Awards could be a really good place to start building your name as a filmmaker.  This is especially true since if you manage to win the best short film 1-7 minutes, best short film 7-30 minutes you’ll qualify for the best narrative short film academy award, or if you win the best animated short film award you’ll qualify for the best animated short film award. 

Submissions open April 1, and the regular deadline is August 1.

Website: https://www.kurzfilmtage.de/en/

FilmFreeway: https://filmfreeway.com/KFFKfestival

10. BogoShorts

Way down south past the equator you’ve got a short film qualifying fest in Bogota, Columbia.  This one looks like you have to be Columbian to Qualify.  You can qualify from the national competition for both best fiction and best animated shorts.  The new submission deadlines have not yet been announced.  

Website: http://festival.bogoshorts.com/

ShortFilmDepot: https://www.shortfilmdepot.com/en/home/festivals/affiche/disableLayout/1/idFestival/49/isLinked/1

(As an aside, the BogoShorts fest didn’t appear to be on FilmFreeway, but I have not yet dealt with ShortFilmDepot, so we do not vouch for them.  We recommend using their website.)

Thanks so much for reading!  This is the first of several similar lists and maybe even a guest blog or two on festivals this month.  

If you’re done with your last festival run and want to make your next film, check out our powerful and affordable toolset!  It’s helped many others producer their short and feature films.  Lots of stuff is free forever, then more is after a free trial, and then beyond that it’s exceptionally affordable.  

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