Everything you ever wanted to know about durango film

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 2023 festival dates?

The 18th Annual Durango Independent Film Festival takes place March 1 – 5, 2023 in downtown Durango theatres followed by virtual presentations beginning March 6, 2023 featuring a selection of the festival films shown in theatres.

Where is Durango, Colorado?

Durango is located in southwest Colorado near the four corners region of the Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah borders. It is nestled in the Animas River Valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains at an elevation of 6,523 feet or 1988 meters. It is a 3 ½ hour drive north of Albuquerque, New Mexico and a six hour drive south of Denver, Colorado, and the closest airport is the La Plata County Airport. Durango is an outdoor activity paradise – Hiking, mountain biking, road biking, backpacking, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, fly fishing (if you’re lucky, our Executive Director will take you after fest), kayaking, rafting and golfing – to name just a few.

Where do the films screen?

Films will screen at three downtown venues (4 screens) within very easy walking distance to restaurants, shops, and lodging. We are also scheduling virtual presentations beginning March 6 featuring a selection of festival films for those who may still not be comfortable in theatres. Festival venues include the Durango Arts Center, Animas City Theatre, and the Gaslight Twin Cinemas.

What is the best way to submit my film?

We offer one online source for film submissions; FilmFreeway, which can be accessed through our website under the Submit Films tab or http://www.filmfreeway.com/

How many times will my film screen during the festival?

Each film is screened at least twice during the festival by the general public, and may be screened additional times by the jurors since this is a competitive film festival. From time to time, we may show a single special screening. Each filmmaker will receive a screening schedule so you know the times and venue of your film’s screening. In addition to in-person Durango screenings, we are planning a virtual presence following the in-person festival featuring a selection of festival films. Films selections will be made by and at the discretion of the DIFF programmers.

How do you select films to be in your festival?

Screening teams of programmers for each genre fill out film evaluation forms after each screening and vote on which films they feel make the best selections for the festival. The programming teams then make the final decisions on which films are accepted into the festival, and determines when and where those films will screen.

Does my film have to be a World Premiere to get accepted?

No, it does not have to be a World Premiere. However, we may not consider a film that has already screened theatrically in Durango 120 days prior to the start of our festival.

Do you accept international films?

Yes, we highly encourage international filmmakers to submit to our festival. The film must be submitted in DCP or file formats such as .MOV or .MP4 format and have English subtitles. To date, we have shown films from over 80 countries.

What kind of special film programs do you have at your festival?

Durango Film programs include the following:

– feature length films
– short and feature-length documentaries
– short subject films
– animated films
– Native American & Indigenous films are screened in our Native Cinema programs
– LGBTQ films (we are committed to diversity, therefore we program LGBTQ films in our features, documentary and shorts programs)
– family films
– adventure films

Can I submit my film if it has already played on YouTube or any other online source?

We have no premiere status requirements and, given the circumstances over the past two years, we will consider the exposure your film has received on a case by case basis. Therefore, if your film has been available on YouTube or other online viewing platform for a long period, the programming team will take that into consideration when they make their selections.

Can I submit a rough cut or an incomplete version of my film?

You may, but please be aware that your film may be disqualified if the festival does not receive the final cut by our extended deadline date of October 31, 2022.

What is the Reel Learning School Program?

Each year we curate a collection of short films that highlight different aspects of films, whether it is the aesthetic of films or the art of filmmaking. Area students depending on the age appropriateness of the content are invited to participate in the program. The schools districts that currently participate in the program are Durango 9-R and Ignacio School Districts, grades K-12. Charter Schools are also invited to attend the screenings. In 2022, we presented in-person screenings for one school district, while other district teachers chose a virtual classroom screening option. We plan to continue to offer both options to La Plata County school districts.

  • It is noted that all family films will also be screened by the Reel Learning programmers so we have combined the categories and will be in consideration for either program. However, the festival reserves the right to decide which program your film is most appropriate for presentation.
Can I advertise my film in your festival souvenir program?

Yes, please contact the festival office or Joanie at  [email protected] for advertising options. If selected, please send postcards as soon as possible so that we can advertise your film’s screening times during Snowdown, Durango’s winter celebration in late January.

I am a broke filmmaker that has submitted my film to a hundred film festivals, can you waive my fee?


But how else are people going to see my film?

We are sorry but the answer is still no. We receive hundreds of submissions each year from filmmakers that understand festivals rely on funding from submission fees to showcase and program the selected films. DIFF is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that works hard to raise the funds each year in order to present an amazing selection of films by independent filmmakers. The ONLY time we may waive a fee is if we see a film in the festival circuit that we love and choose to invite you to screen in our festival. Once a filmmaker screens in our festival, they receive a fee waiver code for one film submission per festival.

How many films do you select?

The number of films selected for each category varies drastically each year, therefore we honestly do not know what your “odds” of getting in are but we believe there are huge bragging rights earned if your film is selected. Typically total number of films screened in each festival range from 85 to 115 (101 in the 2022 festival).

If selected, do you pay for my travel?

Currently, we do not offer any free flights into Durango, CO. Please don’t tell us to go out and secure an airline sponsor. We’ve tried but Durango is not a HUB city for any of the airlines that actually fly to Durango. We may offer filmmakers one or two night’s lodging that has to be booked through the Festival and heavily discounted rates for additional nights. If selected and you decide to attend the festival, you will be extremely glad you did.

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