HBO® Short Film Competition

A competitive section for narrative shorts directed by or produced and written by persons of African descent. Now in its 24th year, the HBO® Short Film Competition is regarded as one of the most prestigious short film showcases in the country. Five filmmakers are selected as finalists and receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the festival and the opportunity to compete for the coveted HBO® Short Film Award.

Submissions Closed

Eligibility Requirements:
  • 20 minutes maximum runtime inclusive of credits.
  • Entrants must be 18 years old or older.
  • Films must have been directed and/or written by a person of African descent.
  • Competition is open to U.S. and international entries.
  • Films must be in the English language or contain English-language subtitles.
  • Films must have completed post-production on or after April 1, 2019.
  • Films must not have been previously submitted to the HBO Short Film Competition under its current or any former title, or in any form that is, substantially similar to or derivative of the current film.
  • Films must not have had any previous exhibition on broadcast or cable or online.
  • Films must not have been previously exhibited on, or licensed for exhibition on, any form of television prior to the scheduled ABFF, November 3-14, 2021.
  • Entrant shall not permit the film to be exhibited, or enter into a license or make any agreement to exhibit the film, on any form of television.
  • Employees of ABFF Ventures, HBO and any other WarnerMedia entity (including permanent and temporary employees), their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household are not eligible to participate.
  • Each entry must include a signed competition release form with acknowledgement of HBO® Privacy Policy by no later than the deadline of June 10, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST.
Submission Materials:

Each submission entails the following:

Submit your film and information online via In addition to the information required on page 1 of this form, your submission must include the following:

  • Film Synopsis
  • Photo still from the film
  • Filmmaker (director and/or writer and producer) bio
  • Filmmaker (director and/or writer and producer) photo
  • PDF of your executed HBO Short Film Competition Release downloadable from Please download, sign and scan a digital copy to be included with your submission.

Payment of the submission fee online is required at the time of submission.

Please note: Applicants will be notified of the festival’s decision by September 2, 2021.

If Your Film is Selected:
  • You agree that you will not negotiate with anyone other than HBO prior to December 20, 2021, with respect to acquiring any rights in the film.
  • If your film is selected as a semi-finalist or finalist, you will be required to provide HBO one (1) high resolution downloadable digital copy of your film to be delivered promptly following notification of your selection, but no later than September 17, 2021.
  • Immediately after notification of your selection, you must deliver to ABFF and HBO one (1) photo still from the film, one (1) photo still of the qualifying filmmaker (jpeg. format) and any additional requested materials (press, etc.).
  • HBO provides state-of-the-art finishing resources to enhance the color and sound of your film, if selected. You are required to either opt-in or opt-out of this resource upon selection. NOTE – should you opt out, the viewing experience of your film could be jeopardized.
  • HBO will reach out to you directly to provide round-trip air and hotel accommodations and festival credentials for you (if there is more than one filmmaker, one (1) must be selected to represent the film) and one (1) guest.

NOTE: The Competition Release Form must be added to your project on FilmFreeway as a "File Attachment" prior to submission.