About the Festival

The festival seeks films that celebrate alternative visions and sounds, offering a platform that connects filmmakers with one another and our loyal audience, and encourages new ideas in celebration of work that pushes the envelope in style and content.

We are looking for exceptional independent features and shorts in the categories of: dark comedy, genre, dark sci-fi, cerebral and/or psychedelic horror, unusual documentary, music video, animation, or films that defy description (preferably with a WTF) from all over the world.

Since 2012, BUFF’s primary screening venue has been the historic Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA. Occasionally we screen at the Harvard Film Archive as our secondary screening venue.

In addition to film screenings, BUFF hosts receptions and parties all over Harvard Square and Cambridge for attending filmmakers, industry guests, audience members, and media.

We pride ourselves on the caliber of the content we exhibit, the hospitality of our fantastic volunteer staff, and the passionate community we’ve fostered here in New England.

Rather than giving cash or trade value prizes for awards, BUFF doles out a trophy in the shape of a demonic black bunny, named Bacchus.

The annual award categories are:

Audience Awards: Best of Fest Short, Best of Fest Feature

Best First Feature

Director’s Choice (BUFF organizers): Best Short, Best Feature

Occasionally awards for Lifetime Achievement and Best New England Film are selected as well.

SUBMISSION, EXHIBITION FORMATS

Films 60 minutes and above are considered feature length. Films under 60 minutes but above 20 minutes are considered medium length. Films under 20 minutes are considered short length. Short, medium length, and feature length submissions must be online screeners; no physical copies accepted.

All submissions in a foreign language must be subtitled or dubbed in English.

If submitting more than one film, a separate completed entry is required for each title. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, submitted items cannot be returned.

Accepted Feature films must be available on DCP or 35mm.

All accepted short and medium length films must be on DCP.

All DCPs must be authored by a professional post-house. “Homebrewed” DCPs will not be accepted under any circumstances. If a filmmaker cannot produce proof of professional DCP authorship, the filmmaker agrees to either allow BudgetDCP, BUFF’s DCP partner, to author a DCP at a discounted rate or to get a DCP authored by a professional post-house (and provide proof thereof).

BUFF will not accept digital files as exhibition copies for ANY films accepted into the festival.

NOTIFICATION AND SCHEDULING

Selected films are scheduled at the discretion of BUFF. BUFF retains the right to make changes to the published schedule at any time and for any reason. BUFF will notify all filmmakers of acceptance/rejection status via email by no later than March 1, 2019.

RELEASE

Boston Underground Film Festival (henceforth referred to as BUFF) is hereby granted the right to utilize an excerpt from any film submitted and accepted for exhibition at the Festival for promotional purposes.

The individual or corporation submitting the film hereby warrants that it is authorized to commit the film for screening and understands and accepts these requirements and regulations.

The undersigned shall indemnify and hold harmless BUFF from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney’s fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered.

What kinds of films does BUFF screen?

We love a variety of genres, particularly films that blend genres or break the rules. We are often considered a horror festival but that’s not accurate. While we love our fair share of horror and genre film, we also love vanguard film, bizarre and dark comedies, experimental documentaries, docs about music/bands, animation, sci-fi, and dramas that push boundaries and expand minds.

View our most recent program, check out our Vimeo channel BUFF.TV or do some research about us online to get an idea of our programming style.

Does BUFF consider work in progress submissions?

Totally. Just be sure you’ll definitely complete the film by the end of January 2019 as that coincides with the throes of print traffic. And don’t pull a bait and switch on us; if the completed film is wildly different from what you initially submit, that needs to be communicated as early on in finalization process as possible.

Does BUFF grant submission waivers?

Typically, no. Out of fairness to all the filmmakers who pay full submission fees and in consideration of our incredibly scare resources (we are an underground festival) and small, 100% volunteer staff, we honestly can’t afford the time or loss of much-needed funds to consider waived submissions. Every dime we receive goes straight towards supporting the festival and we literally need every penny.

In very extreme cases we may be able to make an exception, particularly if you are applying from an underserved or underrepresented community or from a region embroiled in political turmoil. But before you ask, make sure you look at our programming first. We don’t appreciate receiving requests from films that are clearly outside the scope of our programming. 

Do you require a premiere status for films?

For Feature films we require a bare minimum of a Boston premiere. This means that the film must not publicly screen in Boston (also, to get extra specific: Cambridge, Somerville and/or the Greater Boston region) before BUFF. We of course love the honor of hosting World/US/East Coast or New England Premieres. 

For short and medium length films, no premiere status is required. 

Are music videos considered?

Yes! We have a dedicated shorts block specifically for music videos. We love them. Please send them.

What about videos originally made as part of a web TV series?

We consider these too but are unlikely to screen the whole series unless it edits nicely into a feature length film or if an episode works well as a standalone short film.

You accept Medium Length films but I’ve had a hard time getting mine accepted at festivals. What’s up?

Truth be told, a film that runs in length between 21 and 59 minutes is singularly the most challenging type of film to place when you consider that most program blocks are about 90 minutes long. Medium films really have to work harder than a short or a feature to justify their length.

They are harder to pair with other shorts and difficult to pair with features when there are program block time restrictions because they become the anchors and require complementary content to go with them. We do our best as many of our favorite films over the years have been medium length, but most festivals will tell you the same thing: The odds are more stacked against you.

Will you actually watch my film? How will I know?

Well, yes…you are paying for us to consider your film, so why…wouldn’t we watch it? We are trying to discover incredible films – it’s like the ultimate show and tell. How can we do that if we don’t watch your film? 

We are so dedicated to screening as many wonderful films as we can that we even created a year-round monthly screening series to exhibit films that we couldn’t find a place for in our annual lineup.

Who is watching the films, an anonymous panel of screeners? 

No. The Director of Programming & the Artistic Director are watching screeners along with everyone else on our programming team. We don’t use a screening committee. It’s important to us that we watch all submissions to ensure that selections align with our mission and taste. We are control freaks and film maniacs.

What if I look at my Vimeo stats and see that you didn’t watch my film?

First of all, that’s an egregious claim and one that we take very seriously. Vimeo is very clear about inaccuracies when third-party apps are involved.

Most of us watching submissions are looking at films on customized home cinema setups (because we are film nerds). We don’t really like watching submitted films on small laptop screens within the Vimeo player. Apple TV, Roku, etc. are what we use and it’s a known fact that Vimeo has difficulty giving reliable stats for anything that’s played outside of the Vimeo player. 

Also. Some of us travel, a lot, which requires us to download files so we can watch on long flights or train rides. You’re not getting Vimeo stats for these views either.

Sidenote: A few of us live elsewhere during the year and aren’t permanent Boston residents (anymore). If you’re looking for “proof” that a “view” took place in Massachusetts, keep in mind that we live scattered around the world.

What if I have other questions? 

Drop us a line at info [at] bostonunderground [dot] org.

How do I submit?

Submit on Withoutabox

Submission Deadlines

EARLYBIRD DEADLINE
June 25, 2018

REGULAR DEADLINE
September 25, 2018

LATE DEADLINE
November 25, 2018

WAB EXTENDED DEADLINE
December 30, 2018

LAST CHANCE!
January 6, 2019

Submission fees vary per deadline and format (short, medium, feature), ranging from $30-$85. Please view our listings in FilmFreeway or Withoutabox for specific pricing.