Named one of Moviemaker Magazine's "50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" in 2018, the RiverRun International Film Festival is a regional festival based in Winston-Salem, NC and is principally known as a filmmaker-friendly event dedicated to showcasing the year's best new international cinema. Each spring, RiverRun screens new narrative, documentary, student and animated films of all lengths from established and emerging filmmakers around the world. In addition to the Festival's annual short and feature-length juried competitions, RiverRun also presents a broad range of special events, regional premieres of significant films, celebrity tributes, family programs, retrospectives, panel discussions and parties. RiverRun is also an Academy Award qualifying festival in the Documentary Short and Animated Short categories!

RiverRun has five different juries that evaluate the competition films and award various prizes. The juries are in the following categories--Re: Vision Independent Feature Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Narrative Shorts Competition, Documentary Shorts Competition and Animated Shorts Competition.

We also have an audience award for Best of Fest. The films are voted on by members of our audience at each individual screening.

• While we hope to have a full, in-person event we do not yet know if that will be possible. We will plan on doing whatever is the safest option for our patrons.
• All entries must be sent or postmarked no later than December 15, 2021.
• All submissions must have been completed after January 1, 2020.
• For films in our Academy qualifying sections (Documentary Short and Animated Short), if your film has already been awarded the top prize at an Oscar-qualifying festival, the film is not eligible to be programmed in a competition section at our Festival. Please let us know in your submission form if that is the case.
• All films must be in English or have English subtitles. Non-subtitled or dubbed foreign language films will not be considered.
• All clearances must be obtained for exhibition.
• Only the Producer, Director, Screenwriter or someone closely connected to the film may complete the application. Schools may submit films on behalf of student filmmakers in the student category.
• Only complete entries will be accepted. This includes the non-refundable entry fee, a completed entry form and a screener.
• Films submitted in previous years will not be accepted for submission.
• The programmers at RiverRun actively pursue the best in American independent and world cinema for the annual Festival. Films that have been released on video or DVD, have been widely screened on television or cable, or have been released theatrically preclude the Festival from accepting those films for competition. Exceptions are sometimes made for such films to be programmed at the Festival in non-competitive sections but are determined on a case by case basis.
• Films previously screened publicly in North Carolina may not be eligible for competition, but could be included in special non-competitive sections.

Film Categories for Competition:

• Feature-length films (narrative or documentary) must be 40 minutes or longer.
• Film Shorts (narrative, documentary, experimental, animated) must be 40 minutes or less.
• Student films must have been completed after January 1, 2020 and proof of enrollment is required. Student films may not exceed 30 minutes.

Although RRIFF is a competitive festival, some films may be included in the program in a non-competition section.

Unfortunately, RRIFF is unable to provide comments about specific films not accepted due to time and resource constraints.

Selected filmmakers may expect the following:
• Filmmakers whose films are accepted for competition will be notified by email by approximately March 22, 2022. All the privileges due filmmakers will be specified in this correspondence.
• Each accepted film is entitled to two (2) VIP passes, giving free access to all events and screenings (subject to availability) at the Festival. These passes are non-transferable and must be worn at all times in clear view. Passes are not sent by mail, but must be picked up in person at the designated Festival site.
• RRIFF promotes the schedule of screenings via media including newspapers, emails, television and radio. RRIFF encourages filmmakers to help promote their films by promoting their screening(s) to industry professionals, distributors, the press and the general public.
• For entries selected to the 2022 Festival, an exhibition print or video of the film in proper format (DCP, Bluray or File (MP4 or MOV (H.264)) must be received by RRIFF no later than April 10, 2022. We do not currently have DCP capability on all screens, so alternate formats are preferable in most cases. Failure to comply with technical specifications may result in the removal of the film from Festival competition.
• Filmmakers may not install banners or posters at the theaters without the official authorization of RRIFF.
• The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening, and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations. The individual or corporation submitting this film additionally grants the RiverRun International Film Festival the right to one or more public screenings of the film during the Festival. Entries that are not completed or available for screening must pull their entry prior to January 1, 2022 or the film will be screened as entered.

The management of the RiverRun International Film Festival reserves the right to decide all questions regarding rules and regulations. Submission of a film constitutes that the filmmaker accepts the rules and regulations set forth herein.

Questions: Please call 336-724-1502 or visit the website at or email:

Overall Rating
  • Walker Hare

    Unfortunately I could not attend RiverRun to see our feature play in person, but the staff was wonderful and a few friends that did see our film at a beautiful, open air screening said that the setting was magical. Highly recommend.

    May 2021
  • Jeff Daniels

    A thrilling experience! Mary, Christopher and the rest of the RiverRun team made us and our feature documentary film TELEVISION EVENT feel we were an important part of their festival community despite our presence being virtual. As a result we were able to feel a strong sense of the pre-COVID festival magic that has otherwise been hard to come by.

    May 2021
  • Despite being forced to have a hybrid festival, RiverRun did a great job assuring that filmmakers received a semblance of the experience. And I was honored to see "The Hot Air Balloon" play alongside such fantastic films.

    May 2021
  • Megan Daniels

    Mary and the rest of the crew at River Run did a FANTASTIC job creating a hybrid event at this year's festival. The outdoor and drive-in screenings were successful despite the lingering concerns about COVID. They followed the safety protocols still in place and at the same time, came up with creative solutions in order to provide the pre-pandemic experience we are all craving. Mary was very communicative in the months leading up to the festival. As a first-time filmmaker attending my first screening as the storyteller and not an audience member, I was very impressed with how organized and attentive everyone was. I felt like royalty! I highly recommend River Run not only as a filmmaker looking to be a part of a well-respected festival but also as an audience member looking to see high-quality films made by talented filmmakers.

    May 2021
  • Jimmy Goldblum

    A brilliant festival! I received more emails after our screening from audience members than at any other festival, a testimony to the passion and curiosity of their wonderful community.

    May 2021