If you enjoy cultural events and experiences, be sure to check out one of the awesome film festivals in Washington DC. Each festival features a different theme and unique perspectives. Enjoy a film screening with other Washingtonians who have a shared passion for celebrating new cinema.

Film Festivals In Washington DC: Spring & Summer

Spring and summer in Washington DC is a wonderful time for special events. Here are some popular film festivals for you to to check out a feature film followed by a panel discussion and immerse yourself into the DC film scene.

Washington D.C. International Film Festival (Filmfest DC) 

The Washington DC International Film Festival, also sometimes referred to as Filmfest DC, is the largest and longest-running annual international film festival in the DC area. The festival showcase runs for 10 days and is one that is highly regarded by industry professionals. 

Filmfest DC showcases international cinema and promotes cultural understanding through the universal language of film. Filmfest DC is celebrated for its wide selection of international films, including feature films, documentaries, and short films. The festival prides itself on bringing a rich variety of global perspectives to Washington, DC audiences, featuring works from both established and emerging filmmakers.

Diverse Genres And Themes

The festival showcases films across a range of genres and themes, including but not limited to, comedies, dramas, social issues, and political narratives. This diversity ensures that there is something for every type of film enthusiast.

Panel Discussions And Q&A Sessions

To enrich the festival experience, Filmfest DC frequently organizes panel discussions and Q&A sessions with filmmakers, actors, and industry professionals. These events offer attendees the opportunity to engage directly with the creative minds behind the films, gain insights into the filmmaking process, and discuss the themes and issues presented in the films.

Awards And Competitions

The festival includes competitions and awards that recognize outstanding artistic merit, innovative storytelling, and the ability to captivate audiences. These accolades celebrate the exceptional talent of filmmakers and their contributions to cinema.

Dates And Website

It usually takes place in late April. You can find the dates for this year by clicking the link below. 


Environmental Film Festival Washington DC

The Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, also abbreviated as DCEFF, was voted DC’s Best Film Fest for five years in a row. This also takes place during the spring time, usually in the end of March. 


This is the world’s largest environmental film festival. It showcases over 100 films to an audience exceeding 30,000. The mission of DCEFF is to educate and inspire people through environmental films, ultimately motivating them to take action and preserve our planet. It has been running for over 30 years, and will be returning to DC in the Spring of next year. 


DCEFF recognizes and celebrates the most impactful, innovative, and inspiring environmental films each year by awarding a total of $45,000 to support filmmakers at this annual festival.

​Dates And Website

The Environmental Film Festival usually takes place in the end of March. You can find out more information on their website below.


DC/DOX 2024

Launched in June 2023, DC/DOX is a major new international film festival in the US capital dedicated to promoting documentary film.


The mission of the DC Documentary Film Festival is to highlight non fiction storytelling and to champion new voices.

Panels And Workshops

The festival also presents a concurrent two-day “Reality Check” forum featuring numerous panels and workshops that tackle the most timely and urgent issues and opportunities facing the documentary industry today.

Dates And Website

In 2024, the festival will take place from June 13 to June 16.


Annapolis Film Festival

About one hour from Washington DC, is Maryland’s state capital, Annapolis. Annapolis also hosts a film festival which you can enjoy alongside many other fun activities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.


The Annapolis Film Festival has a large variety of films from around the world, including feature-length films, documentaries, and shorts. By doing so, it aims to expose audiences to new perspectives and storytelling techniques that they might not encounter in mainstream cinema. The Annapolis Film Festival provides an opportunity for both emerging and established filmmakers to screen their work to a wider audience, receive feedback, and network with other professionals in the industry.

Promoting Annapolis As A Cultural Destination

The festival aims to engage the local community and visitors in a celebration of film as an art form. Through screenings, panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other events, it encourages dialogue between filmmakers and audiences, enriching the cultural landscape of Annapolis. The festival also contributes to the city’s cultural and economic vitality, attracting visitors from many different places.

Dates And Website

The Annapolis Film Festival will take place in early April. You can find more information about this 4 day event by visiting the website linked below. 


Film Festivals In Washington DC: Fall & Winter

Fall in Washington DC is another great time to check out new filmmakers. Here are film festivals in Washington DC in the Fall and Winter.

DC Independent Film Forum (DCIFF)

The DC Independent Film Forum, abbreviated as DCIFF is oldest independent film festival in the city. It was founded in the late 1990s, and this film festival is dedicated to the discovery, support, and presentation of independent films and filmmakers. The festival embraces the spirit of independent storytelling, offering a platform for voices that diverge from mainstream cinema to be heard and celebrated.


This film festival encourages the exploration of diverse narratives and innovative storytelling techniques. DCIFF’s commitment to education and professional development for filmmakers also helps to sustain and grow the independent film community, both locally and beyond.

Diverse Film Selection

DCIFF showcases a wide array of independent films, including feature films, documentaries, short films, and animated works. The festival is known for its eclectic mix, representing a broad spectrum of genres and styles, all unified by their independence from major studio systems.

Engagement With Audiences

DCIFF places a strong emphasis on audience engagement. Through post-screening Q&A sessions, panel discussions, and workshops, the festival fosters a dialogue between filmmakers and viewers. This interactive environment enriches the viewing experience and deepens the audience’s understanding of the art and craft of filmmaking.


DCIFF celebrates artistic achievement in independent filmmaking through its awards program. The festival recognizes excellence in various categories, such as best feature, best documentary, best short film, and best animation, among others. These awards highlight the creativity, innovation, and dedication of independent filmmakers.

DC Shorts Film Festival

The DC Shorts Film Festival is a highly competitive film festival that takes place on the East Coast of the United States. It is the largest short film event on the East Coast. Films are required to be 30 minutes or shorter in length. 

Diverse Genres

The festival screens films in a variety of genres, including documentary, animation, horror, comedy, drama, thriller, romance, science fiction, fantasy, action, music video, and LGBTQ+.  


Awards are presented by a jury and audience members in categories such as Outstanding Genre Short, Outstanding Comedy/Drama Short, Outstanding Animated Short, Outstanding Use of Music, Outstanding Documentary Short, Outstanding First Time Filmmaker, and Outstanding Local Film. The festival accepts submissions from around the world.


Latin American Film Festival

Last year this festival took place at the end of September at the AFI Silver Theatre. The theatre’s website has information on future festivals that will be held there. This venue is actually located in Silver Spring, which is a suburb of Washington DC. It is easily accessible by public transportion. 

AFI Silver Theatre Website:

AFI European Union Film Showcase 

Like the Latin American Film Festival above, this DC film festival is also organized by the American Film Institute (AFI). It has been held every year since 1987 and it is one of the longest-running film festivals in the Washington, D.C. area. It typically takes place in late November or the early part of December. 


The festival screens a diverse selection of films from the 28 member states of the European Union, including both award-winning titles and lesser-known independent films. The goal is to bring European films to American audiences and promote cultural exchange between the U.S. and the EU. The films span a range of genres, from dramas and comedies to documentaries and animation.

Panel Discussions And Q&A Sessions

In addition to screenings, the festival often features Q&A sessions with filmmakers, panel discussions, and other special events. The showcase provides a unique opportunity for D.C. audiences to discover acclaimed international films that may not receive wide theatrical release in the U.S.

Dates And Website

Check the AFI Silver Theatre Website for exact dates for this year:

Film Festivals In Washington DC: Summary:

Washington DC, the nation’s capital, is not only the political heart of the United States but also a vibrant cultural center that celebrates the power of film through many film festivals. These festivals showcase a rich tapestry of new films, including short films, documentary films, and feature films, highlighting the diverse stories and great talent within the film industry. The film screenings range from independent films  from new filmmakers to award-winning directors’ latest works.

With each year’s program, Washington DC’s film festivals continue to highlight the unique contributions of independent filmmakers, bringing to light beautiful films that tell diverse and compelling stories. These festivals underscore the nation’s capital’s role as a hub for cultural exchange and the appreciation of new and innovative film, making it a key destination for anyone interested in the future of film and storytelling.

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