2021 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 2021!

How to Participate
We are now accepting film entries in all categories. We will continue to work with local officials to determine what format the festival will take in 2021: whether it will be held in our physical SLO venues, online via a Virtual Festival format, or in some combination of the two. Regardless of the format, prizes and cash awards will still be presented and our festival will continue its commitment to presenting world-class cinema in San Luis Obispo County, from March 9th to 14th, 2021.

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 Student Film (any length)
  • Best Music Video – NEW!
  • Best Animation – NEW!

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.)

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 16th, 2020. The extended late submission deadline is November 30th, 2020. 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. 

Filmmakers with films that were produced, directed or written by residents in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Monterey counties are invited to submit to the Central Coast Filmmakers Showcase with a discounted entry fee. A film that is eligible for this category should not be entered in the George Sidney category as well. When submitting to the Central Coast category, please specify in the notes where the producer, director or writer lives. 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, 2019. 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, 2021. 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 2021 SLO Film Fest.

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


September 7, 2020
GS*: $25.00
CCFS*: $19.00
GS: $30.00
CCFS: $22.00
GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
October 12, 2020
GS: $30.00
CCFS: $22.00
GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
GS: $50.00
CCFS: $37.00
November 16, 2020
GS: $40.00
CCFS: $30.00
GS: $50.00
CCFS: $37.00
GS: $60.00
CCFS: $45.00
November 30, 2020
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)