Submission Criteria

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Submissions for the 2021 Pittsburgh Shorts & Script Competition are now closed.

Pittsburgh Shorts presents the best contemporary short films from around the world and around the corner. The festival has gained a reputation for curating an extremely high caliber of films, including those that have gone on to be Oscar nominees and winners. With a well-respected short script competition in partnership with Carnegie Screenwriters, Pittsburgh Shorts has become a destination festival for creators from around the world.

Plus, this year’s festival includes a can’t-miss filmmaking conference with workshops and panel discussions led by industry pros. 

Thanks to Covid-19, the 2020 festival was presented virtually as part of a combined Fall Festival. But we’re anxious to get back to normal and plan to present Pittsburgh Shorts in November 2021 in the theater if it’s safe to do so. 


The festival culminates in an awards ceremony where three prizes of $1,000 each – along with beautifully designed trophies – will be awarded to Best Narrative, Best Documentary, and Best Animated films as determined by our diverse jury of industry experts. In addition, there will be a Programmer's Choice award that includes a $1,000 prize.

A $500 grand prize and a $250 second place prize will be awarded to the top two scripts. Judges reserve the right to award third and fourth places with cash prizes as warranted. Up to four scripts will have staged readings by professional actors during the festival.

Audience Awards are voted on for Best Narrative, Best Documentary, Best Animation, Best Comedy, and Best Student film and announced on closing night.

Pittsburgh Shorts offers travel assistance to accepted filmmakers on a first-come, first-served basis.


Pittsburgh Shorts is open to all independent filmmakers, including college and graduate level film students, as well as professionals in the field.

Eligible films must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Must be a Pittsburgh premiere (no prior public Pittsburgh screening or TV broadcast)
  • Films completed in 2019 or later
  • Foreign language films must have English subtitles
  • Length: forty (40) minutes or less
  • Single episodes of Web Series ARE eligible
  • Films that are available online ARE eligible (must meet above criteria)

Eligible scripts must adhere to the following criteria:

  • Screenplay submissions must be in English and be 15 pages or fewer
  • Entrant(s) must hold the right to perform, reproduce, display and distribute their work to enter the competition
  • The work must not have been previously optioned, sold or produced

All applicants must submit via FilmFreeway. Entrants may submit more than one film. Each entry requires a separate entry form and fee.

The following info should be included as part of the FilmFreeway submission.

  • Film synopsis (50 word maximum)
  • Country of origin
  • Language(s) spoken in film
  • Type of film
  • Length of film
  • Screening and broadcast history
  • Honors and awards
  • Filmmaker’s contact information
  • Short director's biography (100 word maximum)
  • Short personal statement (100 word maximum)

Please submit online via FilmFreeway. Vimeo links are strongly preferred.


Deadline: Entries are due by August 31, 2021.


By June 30: $25
By July 31: $35
After July 31: $45

Payments must be made online with a credit card or mailed in the form of a U.S. bank check or money order. Personal checks from outside the U.S. are not accepted. Do not send cash.


Filmmakers will be notified of their selection status by October 10, 2021.


Selected films will need to be submitted as follows:

Preferred format: ProResHQ 422 QuickTime File

Also acceptable:
H264 QuickTime File (must be a maximum quality – 30mb/s or higher)
MP4 (must be a maximum quality MP4 – 30mb/s or higher)

  • 1920 x 1080 Pixels
  • 24 Frames Per Second (23.98fps is also accepted)
  • 5.1 Audio (Stereo is also accepted)

The above-mentioned specs are preferred. If your project settings do not match, a master quality file of your project in its native framerate and resolution is acceptable.

Questions? Please email


Terms and Conditions

Film Pittsburgh is not responsible for late, lost, damaged or ineligible entries. Entrants will retain all ownership rights to their submitted films. By submitting to this festival, the entrant certifies that they have the legal right to submit and exhibit the film. The applicant is responsible and liable for any breach of rights or the law in the submission and exhibition process. By submitting your film you give Film Pittsburgh the right to exhibit your film at the JFilm Festival. Entrants may be required to sign an affidavit confirming that their film is original and that he/she holds all rights. All federal, state, and local taxes, and customs fees, when applicable, are the sole responsibility of the entrant. The undersigned assumes responsibility to ensure the submission payment information is complete and correct and agrees to reimburse Film Pittsburgh for any additional fees incurred by incorrect submission payments, submission disputes, and credit card chargebacks. The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless Film Pittsburgh for any and all fees, claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving submission payment disputes, copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the content submitted and/or screened. By entering the festival, the entrant grants the right to publish or transmit portions of the film for the purpose of press or promotion, unless otherwise noted. Additionally, entry constitutes permission to use winners’ name, likeness, and voice for advertising and publicity purposes without additional compensation. Void where prohibited