2020 George Sidney Independent Film Competition

Named for renowned director George Sidney, longtime supporter of the SLO Film Fest and indie filmmakers during his lifetime, this film competition is growing fast! Thanks to filmmakers from all over the world submitting exciting new films of all genres, lengths and subject matter, the SLO Film Fest is able to offer to its audiences a wide variety of contemporary, thought-provoking cinema and over 85% filmmaker attendance at their screenings. Great scenery, friendly, intelligent audiences, industry reps and wonderful hotels await you in beautiful San Luis Obispo. We hope to screen your film here in March 2020!

How to Participate

We are now accepting film entries in all categories. Select filmmakers will be invited to present their films before a festival audience, from March 17 to 22, 2020.

Films in the George Sidney (worldwide) competition will compete in several categories:

  • Best Full-length Narrative Film (45 min.+)
  • Best Full-length Documentary (45 min.+)
  • Best Narrative Short Film (under 45 min.)
  • Best Documentary Short Film (under 45 min.)
  • Best College Student Film (any length)

All winners will receive cash prizes – $1000 for feature-length films and $500 for short and best student films. There may also be additional prizes awarded.

Competition films will also be eligible for Audience Awards in five categories: Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Short Narrative Film, Best Short Documentary Film and Best in Fest (any length.) Best in the Fest award is a weekend resort package at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach.

Competition Rules

If a film is accidentally entered in the wrong category, it will be disqualified so please read these rules carefully.

Submissions in the George Sidney and Central Coast Filmmaker categories must be received by November 18, 2019. The extended late submission deadline is December 2, 2019. Absolutely no late submissions will be considered after this date. Submissions will be accepted via Film Freeway.

For specific contest rules for The Filmmakers of Tomorrow competition for high school, middle and primary school students (not college students), please click here: Youth Contest Rules. Submissions for this competition should be entered directly to the SLO Film Fest and there is no entry fee.

Filmmakers with films that were produced, directed or written by residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Monterey counties are invited to submit their films through Withoutabox or Film Freeway, for a discounted entry fee, for possible screening in the Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase. The same film cannot be entered in the George Sidney Independent Film Competition however.

A separate set of jurists will choose a selection of films to be screened as “local” films. If the “local” film is entered in the George Sidney Independent Film Competition it will be judged by the SLO Film Fest Programming Committee along with all other entries from around the world. If a film is entered in this category but the filmmakers are not residents of one of the three counties listed above, the entry will be disqualified.

The SLO Film Fest reserves the right to determine eligibility of any work submitted. All films submitted must have a completion date after March 1, 2018. Preferred format for screening copies is an online link – preferably Vimeo or YouTube.
Films selected for screening at the Festival will be notified no later than January 31, 2020. All George Sidney Independent Film Competition filmmakers will be provided with one night’s accommodation at a hotel in the San Luis Obispo area. They will also be given two all-access passes to the 2020 SLO Film Fest.

SLO Film Fest Alumni filmmakers are invited to submit a new film with a fee waiver. Please contact


Deadlines Student Short Feature
Earlybird: September 9, 2019 GS*: $25.00
CCFS*: $19.00
GS: $30.00
CCFS: $22.00
GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
Regular: October 14, 2019 GS: $30.00
CCFS: $22.00
GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
GS: $50.00
CCFS: $37.00
Late: November 18, 2019 GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
GS: $50.00
CCFS: $37.00
GS: $60.00
CCFS: $45.00
Extended: December 2, 2019
GS: $55.00
CCFS: $40.00
GS: $65.00
CCFS: $50.00
GS: $75.00
CCFS: $55.00
*GS: George Sidney Independent Film Competition (open to all filmmakers worldwide)
*CCFS: Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase
(open to filmmakers in San Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Barbara Counties – see more information above)