Call for Entries Is Now open

The call for entries for the 2020 IOFF is open! Submit your film entry at FilmFreeway.

The festival will take place Thursday, March 12 through Sunday, March 15, 2020, at the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, California.

Important Dates:

Call for Submissions open: July 15, 2019
Early Deadline: October 1, 2019
Regular Deadline: November 30, 2019

The IOFF is proud to be North America’s premier cinemaquatic© film event for ocean-related independent films. Each year's festival offers a carefully curated group of diverse films that capture the beauty, power and mysteries of the ocean.

General Submission Guidelines

The IOFF accepts films of all genres that focus on any of the varied aspects of our big, blue ocean. Subject matter ranges from, but is not limited to, marine wildlife, conservation efforts, ocean environments, coastal cultures, ocean sports and exploration, ocean heroes, and innovative technology designed to help protect the ocean.

Films can be documentaries, narratives, shorts, animation, and full-length films from around the world. A number of finalists from the main film festival program will be selected to participate in the world-renowned IOFF Traveling Program.

Awards & Prizes

Every year, the IOFF hosts presents awards to one winning filmmakers in each of the following categories: Adventure, Animation, Coastal Cultures, Conservation, Director's Award, Environment, Short, Marine Science/Wildlife, Golden Gate Award (for a local Bay Area filmmaker) and an Audience Award.

Rules & Terms

  • All submissions must be ocean themed.

  • All works must be in English or have English subtitles. Entries can be any genre – documentary, narrative fiction, or animation – and can be submitted by professional or amateur filmmakers.

  • We have limited program slots for films longer than 60 minutes, but all submissions of this length and longer will be taken into consideration.

  • If your film is 50 minutes or longer, it would be helpful for our reviewing process if you also send us a DVD (not Blu-ray).

  • Film must be completed by the deadline date in which they are being submitted. Works in progress will not be accepted, and edits to films after they have been submitted will not be allowed.

  • More than one film may be submitted, but a separate entry fee must be paid for each.

  • IOFF does not pay screening fees or shipping fees in order to screen a film, nor does IOFF underwrite production costs (duplication, subtitling, etc.).

  • Upon completion of the Festival selection process, we will attempt to contact the Applicant using the contact information provided on the submission form to notify the Applicant of the Film’s acceptance status. It is the sole responsibility of the Applicant to ensure that the contact information provided on the submission form is correct throughout the entirety of the selection period (from opening of the call for entries through the end of the festival).

  • IOFF is under no obligation to provide to the Applicant or any other representative of the Film any comments or feedback regarding the submitted Film should it not be accepted for exhibition at the Festival.

By submitting your films to the IOFF, you hereby grant permission for IOFF to use it for the following purposes:

  • Stills: Still images from the films will be used on the website, printed materials, banners, and other promotional materials. Please submit one high-resolution headshot of the filmmaker in JPG format.

  • Clips: Clips of submitted films may be used to promote IOFF by appearing on the IOFF website, possible partnership websites, third-party advertising sponsors (i.e., television spots, newspaper print, magazine ads, etc.)

  • Trailer: IOFF may request a short trailer for films over 10 minutes (electronically or on DVD) for promotional purposes.

  • Interim screenings: In addition to possibly being screened at IOFF during the stated festival dates, accepted films may be screened throughout the year for promotional purposes, as a separate screening in cooperation with other IOFF partnership organizations, and as part of the IOFF traveling program.

Filmmaker Perks

If your film is selected for screening at the IOFF, you will receive a variety of perks as follows;

  • Access for you and one guest to the Opening Night Reception, all screenings, panel discussions, workshops and Wrap Party (includes other events as they come online).

  • Discounted or complimentary hotel lodging, if a hotel sponsor is secured by the festival prior to the beginning of the film festival

  • Opportunities to engage with the press and media

  • Opportunity to engage in a Q&A session with the audience each time your film is screened

  • Potential for your film to be selected for the traveling program

More about the festival

Two major events of the IOFF make up the Education Program: the 14th Annual Free Student Education Program, which includes free screenings for middle school and high schools students, and the 9th Annual Student Film Competition for middle school and high school students, with a dedicated program screening the top finalists and cash prizes for the top three winners in each category.

More information about the festival.


If you have any questions about future film submissions, please email us