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Filmmakers at the Blackbird Film Festival encourage filmmakers to submit their films with the Blackbird Film Festival


Submit you film to the Blackbird Film Festival in Cortland, New York

Our Promise.

With so many film festivals to choose from across the globe, it becomes very difficult to decide which festivals are worth submitting your film to... As filmmakers ourselves, we understand how expensive the festival submission process can be as well as how disappointing it is to receive that regrettable rejection letter months later. So, why trust Blackbird with your film?

Three Stage Judging

Every film submitted to Blackbird is thoroughly watched and reviewed by, at least, three judges as outlined by our Three-Stage Judges process below.

Submission Only Curation

Unlike many larger film festivals, over 90% of Blackbird's Officially Selected films are from the submission pool and less than 10% of selections are curated/invited.

Transparent Process

At Blackbird, we believe transparency is an important part of the submission process and so our Selections Statistics are public and outlined below.

At this point, you and your team have likely spent months, if not years, producing your film and now it's time to find an audience who will appreciate the many hours you've devoted to this production. At Blackbird, we understand this and respect your time and effort. Please take a moment to review the information and tips provided on this page and consider if the Blackbird Film Festival is the right choice for you and your film. 


Click HERE to review Blackbird's Official Submission Guidelines.

The Process.

At Blackbird, we pride ourselves on curating cohesive festival programming themed around different topics and styles. At Blackbird, our programmers do not simply throw together screening blocks based on budgets or alphabetical order... Instead, our team of Judges and Programmers work tirelessly from September to January each year to review every film and create the best possible lineup of unique and interesting independent films.

The Judging Process

The secret to Blackbird's success is our THREE STAGE judging process whereby every film is watched and review by, at least, three (3) judges. The stages are as follows:

STAGE #1 - Student Judges

(September to December)

Every film submitted via FilmFreeway is watched and reviewed by, at least, three (3) first stage judges. First stage judges are required to watch, review and rate each film independently. In addition, first stage judges are also required to meet once a week as a group to vote on which films will advance to the second stage of judging. This stage of the judging process is highly competitive and approximately only 50% of the films advance to the next stage. First stage judges are comprised of college students studying media production and/or film studies.

STAGE #2 - Professional Judges

(September to December)

Films that first stage judges recommend to the second stage are reviewed by, at least, two (2) second stage judges. Second stage judges are professional filmmakers, educators and/or festival alumni who have screened a film during a previous Blackbird season. Unlike first stage judges, the second stage judges work remotely and independently to watch, review and rate the films. Second stage judges may also nominate films for awards.

STAGE #3 - Programming Committee

(December to January)

Once all the second stage judges have submitted their reviews, the programming stage begins. At this stage of the process, the programming committee watches and reviews all films that have successfully advanced through the first and second judging stages. Typically, programmers are looking for themes across selections in an attempt to curate 12 to 15 cohesive screening blocks for the festival weekend. A robust explanation by of how Blackbird programmers determine Official Selections can be accessed HERE. At this stage, programmers may also consider the race, gender and sexual orientation of directors in an effort to create a more diverse and equitable festival program.

In the end, programmers typically schedule approximately 80 to 100 films to screen during the festival weekend.

Click HERE to review Blackbird's Official Submission Guidelines.

Judging Process

Selection Stats.

At Blackbird, we believe transparency is an important part of the festival submission process. As filmmakers, you have the right to know how many films are being submitted and, of that number, how many are being selected to screen. Ultimately, please know that we cannot guarantee that your film will be "Officially Selected" to screen at Blackbird and, in truth, the odds are actually quite low that any given film will be selected. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, we have included SELECTION STATISTICS from our past festival seasons that we would encourage you to review before submitting. However, as a festival, we can guarantee that your film will be given a fair and equitable opportunity.

Selection Stats

Submission Tips.

At Blackbird, programmers will curate as many films as possible each season while maintaining the high level of quality and thematic motifs our audience has come to expect. However, we can only screen so many films in a weekend and so, inevitably, many amazingly fantastic films don't make the final cut... So the question becomes, how do Blackbird programmers determine official selections during the final stage of the judging process and why might they choose one film over another? If interested in learning more, please CLICK HERE to read an article by Festival Director, Sam Avery, overviewing the five categories our programming team uses to determine official selections each season.


We appreciate that you have taken the time to review our website and therefore would like to offer you a discount. Please use code: WEBSITE for 30% off submission fees via Filmfreeway. Thank you for considering the Blackbird Film Festival.

Submission Tips
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