Film Competitions

NaFF provides its community with innovative, inspiring, and culturally diverse film programs by celebrating the latest and best works of filmmakers from all over the globe. Competitive programs for feature filmmakers are:

  • Bridgestone Narrative Feature Competition
  • New Directors Competition
  • Documentary Competition
  • Gibson Music Films/Music City Competition
  • Tennessee First Competition
  • The Graveyard Shift Competition

NaFF has been highlighting short films since its inception in 1969. The categories for short films in competition are:

  • Narrative Shorts Competition (qualifies for Academy Award™ consideration)
  • Animated Shorts Competition(qualifies for Academy Award™ consideration)
  • Documentary Shorts Competition  (qualifies for Academy Award™ consideration)
  • Experimental Shorts Competition
  • College Student Shorts Competition
  • Young Filmmakers Competition (for filmmakers under the age of 18).
  • Tennessee First Narrative Shorts Competition
  • Tennessee First Documentary Shorts Competition.
  • Tennessee First Student Shorts Competition.
  • The Graveyard Shift Shorts Competition.
  • Web Series Competition

    NaFF celebrates content created for smaller screens in our Web Series Competition. Do you have something unique and current? Win an all festival pass to NaFF and $500.


    Recently named one of the “Five Best Film Festivals in America” by the Brooks Institute and voted one of “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” by MovieMaker Magazine in 2015, NaFF offers filmmakers outstanding cash and prizes valued at over $65,000. NaFF is unique in our emphasis on music in films. All films compete for several prizes for music composition, supervision, and collaboration. Winners of the Grand Jury Prizes in the Animated, Narrative and Documentary Shorts competitions quality for Academy Award™ consideration, provided they meet all other AMPAS requirements. Other short film categories compete for cash prizes.


    Feature Film Awards:

    Bridgestone Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature: up to $4,000.
    Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary: up to $4,000.
    Grand Jury Prize for Best New Directors Competition: up to $4,000.
    Grand Jury Prize in Gibson Music Films / Music City Competition: up to $4,000.
    Tennessee First Award for Best Tennessee Feature: $1,000
    Grand Jury Prize Graveyard Shift: $1,000.


    Additional prizes are offered, including the Southwest Airlines Audience Awards in each category.


    Short Film Awards:
    Grand Jury Prize for Narrative or Live Action Shorts: Academy Award™ qualification* + $500.
    Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Short: Academy Award™ qualification* + $500.
    Grand Jury Prize for Animated Short: Academy Award™ qualification* + $500.
    Grand Jury Prize for Experimental Short: $500.
    Grand Jury Prize for College Student Short: $500
    Grand Jury Prize for Graveyard Shift Short: $500
    Watkins Young Filmmakers Award: $20,000 scholarship
    Tennessee First Award for Best Narrative Short: $500
    Tennessee First Award for Best Documentary Short: $500
    Tennessee First Award for Best Student Short: $500
    Outstanding Web Series: $500

    *provided the winning film meets all other eligibility requirements

    Notable Films & Guests

    NaFF presents the best films by veteran masters and up-and-coming and first-time filmmakers. Our films have won the highest honors in the film world. NaFF selections include such recent hits as: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Ida, Calvary, Mud, The Kings of Summer, The Way, Way Back, The Intouchables, Another Earth, Nowhere Boy, and (500) Days of Summer.


    Recent celebrity guests include: Nick Kroll, Colin Jost, Tig Notaro, Chamique Holdsclaw, Che “Rhymefest” Smith, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Ray Liotta, Nicole Kidman, Clare Bowen, Famke Janssen, Beth Grant, Carrie Preston, Paul Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Harmony Korine, Emmylou Harris, Mariane Jean-Baptiste, William Shatner, Hal Holbrook, Al Gore, Vincent D’Onofrio, Craig Brewer, Gale Anne Hurd, Giancarlo Esposito, Ray McKinnon, Steve James, Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Ben Folds, Sheryl Crow, and Lee Ann Womack.


    Attendees from earlier years have included Oprah Winfrey, William H. Macy, Danny Glover, Joey Lauren Adams, Patricia Neal, Rob Thomas, Lawrence Bender, Kiefer Sutherland, Joshua Jackson, Peter Falk, Paul Reiser, John Pierson, Patrick Swayze, Rick Schroder, Christine Vachon, John Waters, Matthew McConaughey, Robert Redford, James Cromwell, Harry Belafonte, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, and D.A. Pennebaker.