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Submissions FAQ


When is the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival?

The 36th annual Vancouver International Film Festival runs from Thursday, September 28 to Friday, October 13, 2017.

What is VIFF’s mission?

We produce screenings, talks and events as a catalyst for a diverse community to discover, discuss and share the creativity and craft of storytelling on screen.

How many films does VIFF screen?

At our 2016 festival, 324 films (including more than 200 features) from 73 countries played on nine screens. By the time our 16-day event wrapped, we’d tallied more than 133,000 admissions.

What types of films can be submitted to VIFF?

VIFF screens everything from crowd-pleasers to avant-garde work. However, please be sure to submit your film into the appropriate category: 
  • International Narrative Features (over 25 minutes in length)
  • International Documentaries (over 25 minutes in length)
  • International Shorts (maximum 25 minutes in length)
  • Canadian Narrative Features/Documentaries (over 25 minutes in length)
  • Canadian Shorts (maximum 25 minutes in length)

How do I submit a film to VIFF?

Films can be submitted to VIFF either through Withoutabox.com or directly to the festival through our online forms.

What are your submission deadlines and entry fees?

International Narrative Features
Open to non-Canadian narrative films with runtimes over 25 minutes.
Deadline / Entry Fee
Early Deadline - April 28, 2017 / $60.00 CAD
Regular Deadline - June 9, 2017 / $75.00 CAD
Extended Deadline - June 23, 2017 / $90.00 CAD
International Documentary Features
Open to non-Canadian documentary films with runtimes over 25 minutes.
Deadline / Entry Fee
Early Deadline - April 28, 2017 / $60.00 CAD
Regular Deadline - June 9, 2017  / $75.00 CAD
Extended Deadline - June 23, 2017/  $90.00 CAD

International Shorts
Open to non-Canadian narrative and documentary films with runtimes of 25 minutes or less.
Deadline / Entry Fee
Early Deadline - April 28, 2017 / $45.00 CAD
Regular Deadline - June 9, 2017  / $50.00 CAD
Extended Deadline - June 23, 2017 / $55.00 CAD

Canadian Features/Documentaries
Open to narrative and documentary films with runtimes over 25 minutes directed by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with Canada listed as one of the countries of production OR with 51% or more Canadian financing.
Deadline / Entry Fee
Early Deadline - May 12, 2017 / $40.00 CAD
Regular Deadline - June 9, 2017 / $50.00 CAD
Extended Deadline - June 23, 2017 / $60.00CAD
Canadian Shorts
Open to narrative and documentary films with runtimes of 25 minutes or less directed by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident with Canada listed as one of the countries of production OR with 51% or more Canadian financing.
Deadline / Entry Fee
Early Deadline - May 12, 2017 / $20.00 CAD
Regular Deadline - June 9, 2017 / $25.00 CAD
Extended Deadline - June 23, 2017 / $30.00 CAD


Does my film need to be a World or Canadian Premiere?

No. However, films submitted must be Vancouver premieres. Feature length films must not have been broadcast, distributed on VOD/home video, been made available for viewing on the internet or screened either at another festival or publically (i.e. an advertised public screening at which an admission was charged, excluding film school graduation screenings) in the Vancouver area. VIFF will consider short films that have been made available online. Please email us at submissions@viff.org should you require any clarification.

What are the different premiere statuses?

World Premiere: The film has not had a public screening anywhere.
International Premiere: The film has not had a public screening outside its country of production.
North American Premiere: The film has not had a public screening in North America.
Canadian Premiere: The film has previously had a public screening elsewhere but not in Canada.

When does a film qualify as Canadian?

If the director is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and Canada is listed as one of the countries of production.
If 51% or more of the film’s financing is Canadian.

What is my film’s country of production?

The country of production is generally determined by financing and birthplace/permanent residence of the filmmaker(s). The location/setting of your film doesn’t necessarily determine the country of production (unless, of course, significant financing originated in that country or it’s the filmmaker’s place of birth/permanent residence). It’s increasingly common for films to have multiple countries of production.

Do you have a dedicated experimental section that I can submit my film to?

We accept experimental work in any of our standard categories and program it within our established film series.

Do you accept television episodes, web series, virtual reality projects or music videos?

While VIFF has presented all of these in the past, we are not currently accepting unsolicited submissions in these categories.

Does VIFF offer any awards?

In 2016, VIFF offered almost $80,000 in cash prizes plus another $25,000 in services and prize packs as part of 10 adjudicated awards. Audience Awards were announced in four categories, including the overall Super Channel People’s Choice Award. Details of our 2017 award categories and prizes will be announced soon. 

Can I submit to VIFF if I’ve already submitted to other festivals and am still waiting to hear back?

By all means. Submitting to other festivals doesn’t impact your submission in any way.

Does it make a difference when I submit my film?

All submissions are reviewed in the same manner. The only difference is the higher entry fees, so we encourage you to submit as early as possible.

How many films can I submit?

You are free to submit as many films as you wish. However, each submission must have its own completed entry form, entry fee, etc. Please do not put multiple projects on the same DVD.

Can I submit a work-in-progress?

While we are willing to watch “rough cuts,” we strongly recommend that you submit your film in the most finished form possible. Due to the high volume of submissions that we receive every year, we are rarely able to preview multiple versions of a single film. We ask that you address any rough cut issues in your Withoutabox cover letter or in an email to submissions@viff.org. You should also advise us of the exact date you expect the film to be fully completed.

Is my film too old to submit to VIFF?

Any film submitted for VIFF 2017 should have been completed after June 1, 2016.

Can I resubmit my film from last year?

You may resubmit if you have made significant changes to your film after June 1, 2016 and meet the other eligibility requirements. You will have to complete a 2017 entry form and pay the applicable submission fee. 

When is a short film not short enough?

When it’s over 25 minutes long. Instituting this maximum runtime for International and Canadian short films allows our programmers greater flexibility when curating diverse programs. Midlength films (approximately 26-59 minutes long) tend to be programmed with a selection of complementary shorts or paired with an appropriate feature. 

Does VIFF offer fee waivers?

As a not-for-profit society, VIFF relies on submission fees to help cover administration and programming costs. In order to maintain the high quality of our programming, we are not able to offer fee waivers.

Do you accept late submissions?

Once our Extended Deadline has passed, we deal with late submission requests on a case-by-case basis. Please email submissions@viff.org

What preview formats do you accept?

We accept both password protected online screeners and DVDs for previewing purposes. 

If you are submitting an online screener, our preference is a Vimeo link. However, we can accept links to other streaming services including your own site, an unlisted private YouTube, etc. Please ensure that the password remains valid until September 6, 2017. If the link or password changes at any time, you must email the change to submissions@viff.org or else risk forfeiting your submission.

If you choose to submit a DVD, NTSC is our preferred format. While we can also accept PAL, we do not accept data discs. Please indicate the formatting on the DVD and be sure to test the disc in a commercial DVD player before submitting. DVDs should not include labels or stickers of any kind. Only laser-printing or black Sharpie pen should be used on the disc itself. Many consumer labeling products can actually make a disc unplayable.

Where do I mail my DVD?

Vancouver International Film Festival
1181 Seymour Street
Vancouver, BC   V6B 3M7   Canada
Attn: International Submissions or Canadian Submissions (whichever is appropriate)

I’m having issues with my Withoutabox submission. Who should I contact?

You should contact Withoutabox directly at http://www.imdb.com/helpdesk/wabsupport  

Will VIFF confirm receipt of my submission?

If you have submitted through Withoutabox, you can check the status of your film on their website. If you have created a WAB submission and your status has not been updated from “Submitted” to “In Consideration” after several weeks, please write to submissions@viff.org. It’s possible that there is information or payment missing. If you submit directly to VIFF through our online entry forms, you’ll receive an email with your tracking number.

Will you return my DVD?

Due to increased mailing costs, we are not able to return DVDs that have been submitted to us.

If I choose to withdraw my submission for any reason, will I receive a refund?

Regrettably, no. As the work may’ve already been done in terms of reviewing the submission, we are unable to offer a refund.

Who watches my submission?

Submissions to VIFF are reviewed by year-round programming staff, seasonal programmers and screening committees made up of film critics, filmmakers and other individuals well-versed in world cinema.

When will I be notified of VIFF’s decision?

You will be advised of our decision by email no later than September 6, 2017. If your contact email changes after your submission, please let us know.

Will I receive feedback if my film isn’t selected?

Regrettably, with thousands of submissions every year, we don’t have the ability to offer notes to each individual filmmaker.

What are the programming streams and film series that make up VIFF?

In 2016, VIFF introduced a whole new take on streaming entertainment. In addition to featuring some of the world’s finest films, VIFF expanded the frame to create multi-experiential programming streams that included talks, workshops and events in a unique “film plus” model. 

These new programming streams reflect the interests and values of our audience and offer them more opportunities to explore every platform of our programming in a more enriching way:

The world’s boldest creators and their exceptional works. The year’s most anticipated international films and new discoveries curated specifically for VIFF audiences.
Film series include:
  • Galas & Special Presentations: VIFF's marquee attractions, including award-winning work from leading festivals like Cannes and Sundance.
  • Contemporary World Cinema: A spectacular showcase of narrative films from around the globe, featuring both today's masters and tomorrow's visionaries. 
  • Spotlight on France: The rich cinematic culture that continues to flourish in France is celebrated in this selection of fine big-screen offerings.
  • Documentaries: This acclaimed series explores the endless possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking while probing involving subject matter.

A showcase of the inspired works emerging from the creative nexus that is British Columbia. 
Film series include:
  • BC Spotlight: The latest feature films from our province's best and brightest creators will leave audiences thrilled by our homegrown talent.

True North
A celebration of the extraordinary creativity and craft being demonstrated by Canadian storytellers from coast to coast.
Film series include:
  • Canadian Images: Our country's best narrative films and documentaries from directors beloved by VIFF audiences as well as exciting new voices.
  • Future//Present: Diverse independent filmmakers from across Canada who demonstrate originality and vision while challenging the medium.

Uncompromising films and insightful discussions that spark action and change the way we see the world.
Film series include:
  • Impact: With messages that resonate long after the end credits, these documentaries possess the ability to be powerful agents of change.
Journey into the compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by some of East Asia’s most adventurous artists.
Film series include:
  • Dragons & Tigers: This internationally celebrated series continues to introduce the most exciting talents from East Asia to the world.

Music, art and design receive their deserved big-screen treatment in this aesthetically alluring stream.
Film series include:
  • Style in Film: VIFF's stunning fall collection celebrates the creative spirit by inviting fashion, style and visual aesthetics to take centre stage.
  • M/A/D: Cinema conveys the power of other art forms in astonishing ways and allows us unrivalled insights into great creative minds.

Genre-bending features that defy traditional classification and creators who push short form storytelling to its limits.
Film series include:
  • Altered States: This is where the strange ones come out to play, demanding that you follow their warped rules.
  • Short Films: In a matter of minutes, these films immerse you in fully realized narratives that leave an indelible mark.

Films selected to play VIFF will be presented in one of our series at the discretion of our programming team. Additional series may be announced prior to this year’s festival.

If my film is selected for VIFF, how many times will it screen?

The majority of the films at our festival receive two screenings.

What projection formats does VIFF screen during the festival?

DCP, 35mm and 16mm for features. DCP, 35mm, 16mm and ProRes for shorts. Select venues also have 3D capability.

Should I send you press/publicity materials related to my film?

Please do not send any additional materials (press kits, production stills, etc.) with your submissions. Should your film be selected to play VIFF, there are specific materials that will be requested from you. 

What programming does VIFF offer beyond film screenings?

Drawing on a rich history of showcasing innovation in film, television and digital media, VIFF’s “film+” programming expands the frame to include talks, workshops, performances and other unique events. Furthermore, our Next programming stream features virtual reality, gaming, music and emerging digital platforms that serve as a catalyst for ground-breaking ideas and unforgettable next-level experiences. 

At the 2016 festival, “film+” events included: 

Totally Indie Day: For emerging content creators, this tent pole industry event in the Ignite stream focuses on skill building in craft, financing, distribution, marketing, audience engagement and more. 

Sustainable Production Forum: Featuring a keynote speech from Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, this one-day event showcased Vancouver as a world-class destination for sustainable screen-based industry production. The event brought together Industry professionals, executives from Hollywood studios and representatives from global and local sustainability organizations for a day of inspiration and learning about trends and opportunities to further sustainable production. This successful event successfully laid the groundwork for a multi-year series.

New Frontiers Series: Virtual Reality: A deep dive into the latest storytelling technology to challenge creators. Sessions tackled the next big thing in consumer entertainment and introduced first-hand experiences from some of the world's leading VR creators.

Industry Exchange: A dedicated forum exploring the future of digital entertainment. It included exclusive first-come, first-served meetings, as well as dinners, lunches and cocktails with online commissioners, creators and top executives.

Creator Talks: Opened up to the general public this year, these 10 sessions were offered in addition to our traditional post-screening Q&As with festival filmmakers. From fireside chats to panel sessions, audiences heard from some of the worlds' leading creators and innovators as they shared expertise on their craft. Guests included Tatiana Maslany, the Emmy Award-winning star of Orphan Black, and Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol, the mad geniuses behind Viceland’s Nirvanna the Band the Show.

Late Night at HUB: The decibel level rose at the Vancouver International Film Centre (VIFF’s year-round home) as live music from some of the city’s most exciting acts mixed with innovative video experiences. 

Where can I read the fine print?

All of our official regulations can be found in these two PDFs:

Have a question that hasn’t been answered here?

Call 604.685.0260 or email submissions@viff.org

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