Submissions for the 2023 Festival Are Now Open

The Gila Valley Film Festival is dedicated to providing opportunities for filmmakers to compete, to network, and to screen their films. Our 2023 festival will be held at the Historic Safford Theater on Main Street in Safford, Arizona.

We accept feature films, short films, and student films. If you are interested in submitting your film, please see the rules and guidelines below:


Awards and Prizes

Awards will be given for the following categories:

  • Best of Festival
Feature Films
  • Best Arizona Feature Film
  • Best United States Feature Film
  • Best International Feature Film
  • Audience Award for Best Feature Film
  • Best Arizona Short Film
  • Best United States Short Film
  • Best International Short Film
  • Audience Award for Best Short Film
Student Films
  • Best Arizona Student Film
  • Best United States Student Film
  • Best International Student Film
  • Audience Award for Best Student Film

Rules and Terms


Gila Valley Film Festival is a family-friendly event. As such, submissions should be appropriate for a family-friendly audience–think PG13 equivalent or lower (e.g., moderate violence and profanity are acceptable. No graphic nudity will be accepted. Some themes may be deemed too mature regardless of violence, profanity, or nudity).


Films are not required to be in English, but foreign-language films should include English subtitles baked into the film.

LENGTH and BUDGET Guidelines

Feature Films (including narrative and documentary) should be longer than 50 minutes in length. Production budgets for feature films should be no greater than $50,000. All feature films (narrative and documentary) chosen as Official Selections for the festival will be awarded a meeting with Burning Bulb Publishing (a feature film distributor specializing in microbudget films).

Short Films (including narrative and documentary) should be shorter than 20 minutes long. Production budgets for short films should be no greater than $5,000.

Student Films (including narrative and documentary) should be shorter than 20 minutes long. Production budgets for student films should be no greater than $5,000. Filmmakers should only submit to this category if they are currently enrolled as a high school, college, or university student. Filmmakers are not required to be enrolled in a film program to compete.


Filmmakers should have secured all rights to copyrighted material prior to submission (e.g., video, audio, etc.). The festival is not responsible for securing these rights.

Video Submissions

Submissions are accepted through online links through FilmFreeway, YouTube Private Link, Vimeo Private Link, etc. Filmmakers should be prepared to provide the festival with a high-quality copy or link to their film (digital file, Blu-Ray, etc.). A DCP drive is not required.


It is anticipated that we will select approximately 6 total feature films (including narrative and documentary features), 10-15 total short films (including narrative and documentary shorts), and 10-15 total student films (including narrative and documentary student films). Notifications will be sent out through email in early April 2023.


If you are selected to screen your film, you or a representative from your film may be invited to participated in a Q&A panel or workshop during the festival. We encourage all selected films to send a representative to attend the festival, but we understand that this isn’t practical in all situations.


Locations and times for festival screenings, panels, and workshops are subject to change. Please refer to the official festival website for up-to-date information: