Shorts Competitions

All shorts must be under 40 minutes. Any film over 40 minutes will be considered a feature.


Narrative Short Competition: $500 Cash Prize

This is an international competition for live action narrative films under 40 minutes with the winning film made eligible for Academy Award consideration. Previous winners include Academy Award-winner Shawn Christensen’s Curfew, Sean Durkin’s Mary Last Seen, Jamie Travis’ The Armoire, and Denis Villeneuve’s Next Floor. Recent NaFF selections that went on to Oscar nominations include: Buzkashi Boys, Kavi, Miracle Fish, The Pig, Instead of Abracadbra, and West Bank Story.

Documentary Short Competition: $500 Cash Prize

An international competition for non-fiction shorts. Past NaFF winners include Academy Award nominees, Mondays at Racine, Witness from the Balcony of Room 306 and Academy Award-winner Freeheld.

Animated Short Competition: $500 Cash Prize

An international competition for Animated Short Films. The winning film automatically qualifies for Academy Award Consideration. Recent winners include such classic animators as Don Hertzfeldt, Bill Plympton, Chris Landreth, and Academy Award-winning films such as The Danish Poet, Ryan, and 2012 winner The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

Experimental Short Competition: $500 Cash Prize

The Nashville Film Festival has a long history of celebrating experimental shorts–movies that stretch the definition of expression and form–going back to the earliest days in East Tennessee in 1969. Experimental filmmakers who screened here include the greats, Kenneth Anger and Stan Brakahge, as well as more recent filmmakers like Charles Lim, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Jason LaRay Keener.

College Student Short Competition: $500 Cash Prize

The College Student Short Competition winner receives the Vanderbilt Golden Opportunity Award. Student films also compete in the above four categories, but must be entered in this category to be eligible for the Vanderbilt Golden Opportunity Award. Student films entered in other categories will  only be eligible in that category. For instance: if you are a college student and your thesis film is a short animation, please submit in this category. We will, upon acceptance, make it eligible for Best Animated Short, as well, when the jury begins. Entrants MUST send a photocopy of a valid college ID or a copy of their most recent transcript along with entry. If validation is not received, the film will be placed in the category most appropriate (narrative, animated, documentary, or experimental).

Young Filmmakers Short Film: $500 Cash Prize

The Young Filmmakers competition is open to all filmmakers age 18 and under–a copy of state or school ID or a verification letter from a teacher MUST be provided with entry. Without this, the film will instead be entered in the most appropriate category (Animation, Narrative, Documentary, or Experimental).

Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Short Film

Sponsored by Ground Zero, the Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Film is presented to both the best narrative short film (live action or animation) and Best Documentary short film that meets two of the three criteria (proof is required to win the award):


     - The director is a current Tennessee Resident or Tennessee Native

     - The executive producer or writer is a current Tennessee Resident

     - At least 65% of the film was shot in Tennessee