Submissions for the Second Annual Gila Valley Film Festival Are Now Open

The Gila Valley Film Festival is dedicated to providing opportunities for filmmakers working with micro, ulta low, and low budgets to compete, to network, and to screen their films. We only accept Student Short Films and Short Films made with a budget of $5,000 or less and Feature Films made with a budget of $50,000 or less. Categories are organized by length and the region where they were made–not by their content. We accept narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, and other types of films. They will compete against each other based on quality, length (e.g., student films, short films, and feature films) and region (Arizona, United States, and International). We have organized the festival this way to provide the greatest opportunity for budget filmmakers to compete on an even playing field. For example, student filmmakers from Arizona are competing against other student filmmakers from Arizona, etc. For more details, please see below:


Awards will be given for the following categories:


  • Best of Festival


  • Best Feature Film (Arizona)
  • Best Feature Film (United States)
  • Best Feature Film (International)


  • Best Short Film (Arizona)
  • Best Short Film (United States)
  • Best Short Film (International)

Student FILMS

  • Best Student Film (Arizona)
  • Best Student Film (United States)
  • Best Student Film (International)

Rules and Terms

Length and Budget Guidelines

Feature Films (including narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, etc.) should be longer than 50 minutes in length. Production budgets for feature films should have been no greater than $50,000. All feature films (narrative and documentary) chosen as Official Selections for the festival will be awarded a meeting with Burning Bulb Publishing (a feature film distributor specializing in microbudget films).


Short Films (including narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, etc.) should be shorter than 20 minutes long. Production budgets for short films should have been no greater than $5,000.


Student Films (including narrative, documentary, experimental, animation, etc.) should be shorter than 20 minutes long. We do not have a separate category for feature length student films. Production budgets for student films should have been no greater than $5,000. Filmmakers should only submit to this category if they are currently enrolled as a high school, college, or university student. Filmmakers are not required to be enrolled in a film program to compete.


Gila Valley Film Festival is a family-friendly event. As such, submissions should be appropriate for a family-friendly audience–think PG13 equivalent or lower (e.g., moderate violence and profanity are acceptable. No graphic nudity will be accepted. Some themes may be deemed too mature regardless of violence, profanity, or nudity).


Films are not required to be in English, but foreign-language films should include English subtitles baked into the film.


Filmmakers should have secured all rights to copyrighted material prior to submission (e.g., video, audio, etc.). The festival is not responsible for securing these rights.


Submissions are accepted through FilmFreeway. Access to films can be provided through uploads on FilmFreeway, YouTube Private Link, Vimeo Private Link, etc. Filmmakers should be prepared to provide the festival with a high-quality copy (digital file, Blu-Ray, etc.) or a download link to their film. A DCP drive is not required.

Official Selection

It is anticipated that we will select approximately 6 total feature films10-15 total short films, and 10-15 total student films. Notifications will be sent out by email in early April 2023.

Panels and workshops

If your film is selected to screen at the festival, you or a representative from your film may be invited to participated in a Q&A panel or workshop during the festival. We encourage all selected films to send a representative to attend the festival, but we understand that this isn’t practical in all situations. We plan on providing workshops during the festival to give filmmakers and attendees the opportunity to network and to learn together.


Locations and times for festival screenings, panels, and workshops are subject to change. Please refer to the official festival website for up-to-date information: