Film Submission FAQs

Haven't heard about the status of your submission? 

Submissions status for all films and screenplays submitted to ATLFF 2017 are scheduled to be released on 12 PM EST on Friday, February 3, 2017.

Unless you unsubscribed from our mailing list, you should receive at least one email about your film submission. (Our email software won't let us send out multiple emails per email address, so if you submitted multiple films you will still only get email about one of them.)

To check the current status of your film, please log in to FilmFreeway or Withoutabox (whichever platform you chose to use when you submitted). The status of each project will be listed there. 

Click here for Screenplay Submission FAQs.

General Questions

When will filmmakers be notified of the final decisions for the 2017 Atlanta Film Festival?
Final notifications are scheduled to take place no later than February 3, 2017. Some filmmakers may receive notification sooner than this, but if you haven't heard, you're still in the running. 

I don’t like online submissions, can I submit via paper?
No. We no longer accept film submissions that do not go through FilmFreeway or Withoutabox. It is difficult to keep track of films we can’t manually enter into Withoutabox’s system and when there’s no electronic record of a submission, it makes addressing problems (I.E. a film was submitted, but the DVD didn’t arrive, a main contact has to be changed, etc.) troublesome.

I submitted last year and wasn’t accepted. Can I resubmit?
Yes. However, we recommend doing so only if the version being submitted is a radically different cut or if the previous submission was a work in progress with lots to be done. We also program thematically so a short that may have not fit the blocks of one year, may be appropriate for the next year. BUT, full disclosure, it’s been rare a resubmitted film has been accepted the next year. If you do resubmit, please note that the film is a resubmission and what changes were made between the different cuts.

How will we be notified*?
Accepted films will receive an invitation letter by email. Films not accepted will also be notified by email by the notification deadline. Your status of not accepted and accepted will also be reflected in FilmFreeway or Withoutabox.

We also suggest that if the submitter is temporary (an intern, production assistant, etc.) a permanent contact be used as the primary and that a phone number and email address always associated with the production be used. Note: Email filters have a hard time with addresses that start with info@, mail@, admin@, etc. If you’re using an email address it’s more likely your notification email may not arrive. We also suggest using an email address that someone checks at least daily.

*Notification dates are subject to change, please check the festival website every few weeks for updates. We strive to notify all submitters via email when a change will be made.

Questions about Sending in Submitted Films

When must submitted films arrive?
The deadline dates are not postmark deadlines, they are the dates by which your film must be received in our office. We understand there are delays that cannot be foreseen. If your film will not arrive by the deadline due to a last minute issue, you can contact us so we can evaluate options.

How do I know you received my film?
In your Withoutabox or FilmFreeway account, you'll see a message indicating that your film satisfies all requirements and is in consideration. If you see a yellow circle, you’ve partially satisfied the requirements. We may have received payment, but not a film, a film but no payment, or only one DVD or a Blu-ray but not 2 DVDs. Please contact us to find out what is needed to move your film into consideration. If you see a red circle, we have either not received your film, an error was made on our part and we need to correct it, or there’s been an upload error with Withoutabox or FilmFreeway. If you’ve sent your film in and it’s been more than 7 business days, please contact us as soon as possible. If you uploaded your film, please contact Withoutabox or FilmFreeway so they can investigate.

How many copies of the DVD should I send?
Two. It allows two screeners to be watching the film simultaneously and usually guarantees that we will have at least one playable version of a film.

Do you accept online screeners? Can I send an outside link?
Yes. We encourage submitting Vimeo links with passwords with your submission.

If I submit an online screener do I have to also submit 2 DVDs?
No. We either need an online screener or 2 DVDs, we don’t need both.

Can I submit a Blu-ray?
Yes. However, you must still send 2 copies on DVD in addition or submit an online version through Withoutabox or FilmFreeway.

Can we send updated versions of the film?
Yes. However, we ask that new versions arrive no later than the November 6 Late Deadline. With the new submissions coming in, it is unlikely we will be able to properly evaluate a new cut and give the new films coming in all the consideration they deserve.

Can we get the copy of our film back?
We do not return copies of submitted films.

Questions about Content, Types of Films in Consideration

What genres do you accept?
EVERYTHING! Yes, that includes experimental, puppetry, horror and sci-fi.

How long can films be?
We consider a short anything 40 minutes or under and anything over 40 minutes as a feature. We have no cut off, but shorter is always better.

If I submit to one category, will I be considered for others I may be eligible for?
No. You are only considered for the category you submit your film to.

Do you have any ratings limitations? Must films be PG or PG-13? Do you program films with strong content and language?
We have no ratings limitations on films submitted. We program films with a variety content, from family friendly to work that would be more appropriate for mature audiences and would likely be rated R or higher. Our mission is to program great films and a strong lineup first and foremost.

Questions about ATLFF's Programming

Do you have competition sections?
Yes. Jury Prizes for feature films include Narrative and Documentary. Jury Prizes for shorts include Narrative, Animated, Documentary and Music Videos/Films. Other Jury Prizes include Georgia Film and New Mavericks (female filmmakers with strong female leads).

Do you screen films out of competition?

How many films are put in competition?
In the Narrative and Documentary competition, 8 to 12 features compete in each section. In the Narrative, Animated, Documentary and Music Videos/Films sections 5 to 20 shorts compete in each section. Not all accepted films will be put into competition.

Do you have a preference for local films or films with local connections?
Every year we strive to be a strong advocate of local talent and filmmakers. We are proud to highlight homegrown talent, films with local ties, and work made by ex-Atlantans and Georgians. However, being from Atlanta or Georgia does not guarantee acceptance and films have to stand along side with the other films in ATLFF’s programming. We never have a minimum number of local films we try to program, which is also why we don’t have a locals only section. By not having a locals only section, we can focus on programming a wide range of films from around the world and not be forced to reach an arbitrary number.

For 2017, we are introducing a Georgia Film submissions category, with a flat entry fee of $20. The Georgia Film category is for any feature or short film that was at least partially filmed in Georgia AND comes from a director who resides in the state of Georgia. Submitting to this category requires a password. If your film meets the above criteria, email If you submit to this category, your film will be eligible for the Georgia Film Award as well as any other juried categories that we may deem appropriate. If you submit in this category without meeting the necessary criteria, you will be disqualified from consideration into the festival and will not be issued a refund.

How do you program your shorts?
We program thematically. Excluding a few shorts programs every year, we do not choose the themes ahead of time. We look to see what themes we can build from the submissions received. Hence, why one year we will have an Other Worlds (Sci-Fi/Horror) block and another year have a Love NC-17 block.

Do you program international films?
Yes, we love international films! Each year, we screen films representing nearly 30 countries, selected from submissions received from over 120. We’d program more if we had the slots.

Do you prefer films with stars?
No. We prefer great and interesting stories.

Have you programmed films that are available online?
Yes, on a case by case basis. We generally prioritize films that have not yet been released to the public. 

Questions about the ATLFF's Screening and Judging Process

I worked on or acted in a film, but didn’t produce or direct it, can I submit? I was the director, but not the producer, or vice versa, can I submit on my own?
If it’s not your film, it’s advisable to submit only after you’ve received permission from the filmmakers.

For directors and producers, we strongly advise that everyone is in a agreement about the festivals they are submitting to, which festivals they want to play first or want to premiere at, and which version of the film is being submitted.

When disputes arise, i.e. a film has been submitted without everyone’s explicit approval or the festival strategy has changed, we suggest that productions find a solution and come to an agreement with all the key decision makers before contacting us or any festivals the film has been submitted to. 

Who are your screeners?
We use 50 to 70 screeners from the Atlanta community to watch films each year. Some are academics, some are filmmakers, some have been attending ATLFF for years, some screen for other festivals including the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival and others are past ATLFF alums.

Can someone who submitted a film or worked on a submitted film also be a screener?
Yes. For above the line crew (typically director, producer, writer) we will restrict you from judging films in the same category you submitted in.

How are films scored?
Each film is watched by multiple screeners and evaluated across several different criteria. Screeners are asked a series of questions about each film, working to determine whether or not the film is a good fit for the festival.

Are films selected solely on screener feedback?
No. When it comes to final selections, films are selected based on the overall filmmaking, variety and what will make the strongest and most interesting lineup. When it comes to selecting films, it’s a film’s content and quality that matter, not it’s score. Screener feedback is important to the process, but not ultimate qualifier.

Are films only selected from the group that received high marks from screeners?
No. Programmers will go through notes from each film, regardless of how high or low it scored. Films that did not make the final round but thematically complete a program or pair well with a feature may be reevaluated and selected. We never consider a film officially not selected until we have announced our lineup. Film selection is about making curatorial choices that make the strongest group of films and we strive to revisit as many films as possible to make sure we create the strongest lineup.

Can I see my feedback?
Due to the number of submissions received and technical limitations, it’s not possible for us to share scores at this time. It is something we continue to explore every year and hope to one day make available to all filmmakers.

Can I find out how my film is doing once I’ve submitted?
We ask that you do not email or call us to find out updates. We’re a year round arts organization, so we’re also running workshops, screenings and planning events, as well as overseeing the 3,500 plus submissions we receive for the festival. We’re also working on multiple aspects of the festival (Seminars, Parties, Logistics, etc.) while submissions are in process. It’s not that we don’t want to give updates, it’s just nearly impossible to answer those questions in a timely manner.

It’s also nearly impossible to give an update that would accurately give a filmmaker an idea of how likely it is they’ll be selected. We’d hate to tell you your film received a high score in November, to only send you a not accepted email in January. Or, tell you that your film received  so-so scores from screeners in September and bum you out for months, to only have a programmer see it, think your film has merit and is the final missing piece for a particular shorts program, and it gets programmed in January…yes, it’s happened.

Who makes final selections?
Final selections are made by the Programming Department, consisting of the Creative Director, Shorts Programmers and Associate Programmers.

Questions about Academy Award Qualifications for Narrative, Documentary and Animated Shorts

Please refer to Academy Website Rule 19 section regarding Short Films for qualification questions.

Questions answered?