The Slamdance Film Festival is a showcase for raw and innovative filmmaking that lives and bleeds by its mantra: By Filmmakers, For Filmmakers. Slamdance has created a track record for showcasing breakthrough artists that is beyond dispute. Filmmakers who first presented their work at the festival are now amongst the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Alumni who have shown their early short films and debut features at Slamdance include Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Rian Johnson (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Ari Aster (Midsommar), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Old Guard), The Russo Brothers (Avengers: Endgame), Lena Dunham (Girls), Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), Lynn Shelton (Little Fires Everywhere) and Christopher Nolan (Dunkirk).
Slamdance takes place annually in the beautiful ski resort town of Park City, Utah, down the street and at the same time as Sundance. Slamdance offers an intimate community experience in which audience members, filmmakers, festival programmers and industry professionals all mingle in the same hallways and sit side by side in screening rooms to discover the next generation of cinema talent.
Slamdance 2021 will take place from February 12-25, 2021
The 27th edition of the Slamdance Film Festival will be an extra special one — a hybrid experience featuring free online screenings of films and an invite-only desert retreat for selected filmmakers in Joshua Tree.
The Slamdance Film Festival accepts films in every genre, on any topic, from every country around the world. We spotlight low-budget Narrative and Documentary Features by first-time directors, Breakout Features from non-first time directors, short films across genres, and episodes. We do not disqualify any films based on premiere status or date of completion.
The festival program is selected entirely from our blind submissions pool and no films are given special treatment based on who made them or who they know. Over 200 Slamdance alumni filmmakers are responsible for the programming and organization of the festival. Comprised of a variety of backgrounds, interests, and talents, but with no individual filmmaker’s vote valued more than any other, Slamdance committees have been able to stay close to its original DIY spirit and continue to champion the bleeding-edge of contemporary filmmaking.
Though it's hard to predict what shape the film festival circuit will take in 2021, Slamdance is committed to continuing to champion independent films in whatever way we can. We will be working on the new program as per our regular timeline and we’ll notify entrants about any event changes as we progress throughout the year. Possible changes may include dates, location, and venue.
Whatever shape Slamdance 2021 may take, our priority stays the same: to provide selected filmmakers with a career-launching platform, industry and media exposure, and support of our alumni community.
We have signed The 2020 Festival Survival Pledge.
As always, we have no premiere or production timeline requirements. All films that have screened online as a part of a film festival are also eligible for consideration.
Wed, May 20, 2020
Mon, July 13, 2020
Features $60 Shorts $40
Mon, August 24, 2020
Features $80 Shorts $55
Thur, September 24, 2020
Features $100 Shorts $65
Thur, October 1, 2020
Features $110 Shorts $70
February 12-25, 2021
Over 40 minutes. Not previously or currently being released in the US by a third-party distributor. Not distributed online. Participation in online film festivals is allowed. Budget under $1 million USD.
Directed by 1st-time Narrative Feature director(s)
Directed by 1st-time Documentary Feature director(s)
Narrative and documentary features directed by NON-1st time feature director(s).
Over 40 minutes. Not previously or currently being released in the US by a third-party distributor. Not distributed online. Participation in online film festivals is allowed. No budget restriction.
What We Are Looking For
Since 1995, Slamdance has been recognized as the premiere festival for discovering visionary first-time directors: Christopher Nolan (Following), Lynn Shelton (We Go Way Back), Bong Joon Ho (Barking Dogs Never Bite), Sean Baker (Take Out), Lena Dunham (Dealing), Behn Zeitlin (The Origins of Electricity), Ana Lily Amirpour (Six and A Half), and many more.
While Slamdance’s main competition remains exclusive to first-time directors, the BREAKOUTS program (is designed to) serves directors beyond their first films who maintain distinct visual styles and a unique cinematic voice. At Slamdance, we’ve recognized an inherent need for a viable platform for these fiercely independent filmmakers who might not have the connections to get coveted spots in industry labs and financing along the more traditional development roads. Rather, they continue to make films “their” way, beyond the more star-driven Hollywood and festival elite's radar. BREAKOUTS is where we want the next Nolan with his second film, Memento, Shelton with Humpday, and Zeitlin with Beasts of the Southern Wild to take off. We want these types of distinct voices to be recognized by distributors, agents, and producers who can help drive them forward with distribution and long-lasting, commercially viable careers.
Under 40 minutes. No distribution restrictions. Narrative, Documentary and Animation categories are Academy Award® and BAFTA qualifying. Shorts that blur the lines between categories will be shared and considered by all appropriate programming committees.
All fiction genres, subjects and forms welcome
All non-fiction genres, subjects and forms welcome
All mediums, genres, styles, and subjects welcome. Significant portion of film must be made in frame-by-frame manner (live-action footage of puppets is not animation)
Non-narrative films that may be conceptual, abstract, graphic, didactic, or otherwise unclassifiable. Films that challenge the definition of what film can be.
Pilots and single episodes of any length, genre, and style: narrative, doc, experimental, anthology, vlog, talk show, reality show, etc.
Works should be completed in 2019 or later. No run time restrictions. Works can be available online prior to the festival. Works produced or commissioned by major streaming platforms are ineligible.
You may submit one (1) episode of any length, or multiple shorter episodes up to a total runtime of 10 minutes. For formats longer than 10 minutes, each submission should include only one episode. If multiple long format episodes are included, programmers reserve the right to watch only the first episode in the submission.
For narrative works, we highly recommend submitting the pilot episode to best introduce viewers to your characters.
Department of Anarchy
YOU CANNOT SUBMIT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ANARCHY.
We like to think of Anarchy as an anti-genre. It is a form of resistance to dominant cultural paradigms. The films value innovation of form, violation of taboo, and disdain for institutional modes of representation.
Anarchy is programmed out of exceptionally deviant films found in all other Shorts categories. Programmers of other categories will recommend films for Anarchy. If you think your short film fits the description above but are afraid its anarchousness might slip through the cracks, send us a note at submissions[at]slamdance.com.
Rules & Guidelines
By entering the Slamdance Film Festival, you certify that you have read and agree to the following Rules & Guidelines.
- We consider films in any language, from anywhere in the world. If your film is not in English, make sure it has English subtitles where necessary.
- We consider work in progress. Please include a title card describing what is unfinished at the beginning of the submission screener.
- We consider films regardless of their premiere status. Even if your film has already premiered at another festival, whether it screened at a physical venue or online, it’s still eligible for consideration.
- We consider films regardless of their completion date. You can submit any film no matter when it was made.
- Features previously or currently being released in the US by a third party distributor are not eligible for consideration.
- Features previously self-distributed by the filmmakers online are not eligible for consideration in Feature categories.
- Only directors' debut features with a budget under 1 million USD are accepted to the Narrative and Documentary Feature competition. If your submitted work is not your first feature film, submit it to our Breakouts competition.
- Only independently produced episodes completed in 2019 or later are accepted to the Episodes category.
- There are no distribution rules for shorts. All short films are eligible!
- Entrants can update their screener by uploading a new video file provided your original link url does not change. The link must stay the same after you have submitted your entry. If it is replaced programmers will lose access to your screener and it may not be watched in time.
- All screeners must be uploaded by the appropriate deadline.
- Deadlines close at 11:59 PM PST.
- We will contact entrants if there's anything wrong with the submission. If this occurs, you will need to fix the submission issue by the requested deadline, otherwise we can't guarantee that your film will be watched in time.
- We don't provide refunds for festival entries.
- Each film will be watched by at least two different programmers. If you are using Vimeo stats, you can track the watches most of the time. However, we've had many cases in which watches weren't recorded correctly, including for some of the accepted films. Please note that they are not always reliable.
- If a film gets two or more recommendations after the first round of watches, it will be watched by more programmers and discussed at deliberations sessions.
- Deliberating programmers determine a festival selection through discussion and voting. Each participating programmer has an equal vote and no festival selections are made outside of this process.
- Our programmers are not required to read submission cover letters and other supporting materials, but we encourage you to submit them in case they want to learn more about you and your work.
- We generally don't share programming feedback with entrants.
- The Slamdance programmers' decisions are final.
- Accepted filmmakers will be notified via email, phone or text. Filmmakers must confirm their participation by the given deadline, otherwise they might lose their spot in the line-up. (Heads up: we will be reaching out to some of you over Thanksgiving, but you can't use the holidays as an excuse to delay your confirmation).
- Accepted filmmakers must be the authors of their submitted work and be ready to sign an agreement stating that they own all rights to their film and its components ahead of screening at Slamdance.
- If accepted, entrants are responsible for delivering their festival exhibition copy, trailer, screener link, press stills and press-kit on time.
- If accepted, filmmakers are expected to attend the festival.
- If accepted to both Sundance and Slamdance, filmmakers can not screen at both. We notify filmmakers around the same time, so you will have a chance to make an informed decision and commit to one festival.
- We don't cover filmmakers' travel expenses.
- We don't cover shipping expenses for screening copies and other materials.
- We don't provide screening fees.
- Jury Award for Narrative Feature
- Jury Award for Documentary Feature
- Jury Award for Narrative Short
- Jury Award for Documentary Short
- Jury Award for Animation Short
- Jury Award for Experimental Short
- Audience Award for Narrative Feature
- Audience Award for Documentary Feature
- Audience Award for Best of Breakouts
- Audience Award for Episodes
- Outstanding Acting Award
- Spirit of Slamdance Award (all participating filmmakers vote to determine which film/filmmaker best represents the Spirit of Slamdance)
Established in 2018 by Slamdance alums and critically acclaimed directors Anthony and Joe Russo (Avengers: Endgame), the Fellowship is designed to foster and support young filmmakers while creating a platform for new and emerging talent.
The Russos and their production company, AGBO, will select one filmmaker to receive a $25,000 prize and access to office at their new Los Angeles based studio and mentorship from Anthony and Joe.
CreativeFuture Innovation Award
Through their mission to advocate for copyright protections and to empower creatives, CreativeFuture embraces all forms of current and future storytelling mediums. They present this award to a Slamdance media artist who exemplifies the innovative spirit of filmmaking and is creating unique work through the extraordinary use of technology.
Each year significant cash and service prizes are awarded to Sparky Award recipients, including theatrical and festival screening opportunities through Slamdance Cinema Club and Slamdance On the Road throughout the year after each festival.