Below we attempt to answer all your pressing questions about the New Art Film Festival of Champaign, Illinois before you even ask them! However, if you do happen to think of something you would like to know that is not addressed here, send us your soon-to-be FAQ using the Contact fields at the bottom!


Goals and Reach

Q: What kinds of films do you show?
A: Once a year, we aim to present the best independent films and other creative media being made in downstate Illinois starting with our home, Champaign-Urbana. We screen short subjects, music videos, and trailers. We will consider narrative, documentary, and experimental work. We program the greatest variety possible in terms of genre, topic, or filmmaking technique.

Q: My film production has no immediate ties to Champaign-Urbana. Will you still consider showing it?
A: We always accept submissions from filmmakers living and working in nearby cities such as Danville, Bloomington, Normal, Decatur, Springfield, and Charleston. We certainly encourage filmmakers from as far away as Chicago, Indianapolis, and St. Louis to enter the New Art Film Festival. We consider the NAFF an “upper Midwest regional showcase” although we’re here, first and foremost, for the citizen-artists who live and create (or, once lived and created) in Champaign-Urbana year-round.

Q: Are you affiliated with Boneyard Arts Festival, Pens to Lens, or Roger Ebert’s Film Festival a.k.a. “Ebertfest”?
A: The NAFF took place alongside the Boneyard Arts Festival, organized by the 40 North 88 West arts council of Champaign County, between 2010 and 2014. 40 North helps to publicize the NAFF as part of their overall arts outreach but plays no role in its planning or staging. Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Media, and the Pens to Lens Screenwriting Competition + Gala, organized by the Champaign-Urbana Film Society and Champaign Movie Makers, are completely separate events. There is no direct cross-pollination between the NAFF and these other events at this time, although select Pens to Lens shorts may encore at the NAFF.


Submission Process

Q: When do you accept film submissions each year?
A: With our recent move to the fall, our Call for Entries window is now between July and September.

Q: How much does it cost to submit my film?
A: At this time, we do not charge a fee to submit your film to the NAFF.

Q: What do I have to supply when I enter my film?
A: All entrants should write newartfilmfestivalcu@gmail.com and submit their work by providing us with 1. link(s) to on-line screener(s), 2. passwords to access the same, if necessary, and 3. complete contact information and details about your entry(ies) including: director, writer, producer, lead actors, final running time, year of production, and so forth. (Always consult our Call for Entries page for complete instructions!) Of course, entrants may also submit a non-returnable DVD screener if desired; please include your information with this disc. Also make it clear to us in your submission if an entry is still a work-in-progress so we may take that into consideration.


Selection Process

Q: How many entries does the NAFF receive?
A: We field 30-50 short pieces each year. In 2019, we will not consider feature films due to organizing logistics.

Q: How many entries does the NAFF select?
A: It varies. In 2015, for instance, the NAFF screened 40 films total with the longest running 33 minutes, while the 2014 NAFF presented 28 films total including one 90-minute feature. Given the time frame allotted the NAFF in 2019, we will focus exclusively on short subjects to accommodate as many films as possible. Producers are invited to enter a trailer or excerpt representing their feature-length work. We love to discover what you do!

Q: Who screens and selects the films?
A: Jason Pankoke, Program Director of the NAFF, views the entries and compiles the final program.

Q: When do you announce the film line-up each year?
A: We will reveal the NAFF schedule as early as possible in October.

Q: How will I know if my film is chosen, and where will the information be shared?
A: The NAFF will reach out to the contact person(s) of each entry via e-mail to confirm whether or not the entry is selected. We will then share the schedule publicly on this Web site, our Facebook page, and through NAFF presenter C-U Confidential. We also send out press releases to select media in Champaign-Urbana, other downstate Illinois cities, and Chicago.

Q: What do I have to supply if my film is selected?
A: We ask for relevant materials to help us create publicity that accurately reflects your entry such as press notes. We also strongly suggest that you send us high-quality TIFF or JPEG stills or graphics to illustrate our materials on your behalf. Most importantly, we will require you to submit a full-resolution digital file master of your entry for projection on the day of the NAFF; we will send you instructions with file specifications, delivery options, and due date via e-mail. Screening files will be due four weeks before show time.


Screening Day

Q: How long does the NAFF run?
A: Between 2011 and 2015, the festival has been a single-day event that lasts 6 to 8 hours. Starting in 2016, the show has been a concise 5 hours or under.

Q: How much do tickets cost?
A: At this time, we do not charge an admission fee to attend the NAFF, but we may institute a reasonable ticket price or suggested donation ($3-$6) at future shows to help offset costs for us and the Art, if not also aid valuable arts organizations in our community.

Q: Who exactly is the NAFF audience?
A: Area media makers, passionate film lovers, loyal Art Theater patrons, University of Illinois and Parkland College students, local celebrities, townies with good taste, avid supporters of indigenous culture, working artists of all stripes, conscientious community members using their time and money wisely … exactly the people with whom you want to hang with and see these films!

Q: Hosting the NAFF this year is…
A: …your friendly neighborhood NAFF Program Director, Jason Pankoke, as always. (Sorry, you’re stuck with him until further notice.) We have thoughts on inviting local media mavens to share emcee duties.

Q: What is the organization and pacing of the NAFF?
A: The films are grouped in blocks that run 30 minutes to 1.5 hours each. We match them together by overt themes. Certain films we may play solo. All blocks begin with greetings and a rundown of the films about to play. Occasionally, filmmakers will be invited up front to briefly introduce their film, but we do not stage question-and-answer sessions during the NAFF in order to maximize the number of pieces we can screen. For filmmakers who would like a chance to discuss their work, we do our best to connect individuals with press opportunities that we in turn promote through our own channels.

Q: What kinds of awards could a film win at the NAFF?
A: First and foremost, we consider the NAFF a community showcase and celebration of self-made cinema. Any sense of “competition” ends once the schedule is finalized for a show. Since our inception, we have not given out awards as one traditionally sees in the festival circuit at large (“best of fest,” “best director,” etc.). However, 1. we offer filmmakers “NAFF laurels” graphics each year to place on their own publicity materials, 2. starting in 2019, we plan to award filmmakers “certificates of participation” for framing and display as an additional thank-you for allowing us to screen their work, and 3. in the near future, we may institute “best of” awards that intelligently key into the artistic, narrative, historical, and/or geographic qualities of NAFF entries, chosen by a panel of individuals selected from the Champaign-Urbana ranks. Stay tuned, as they say!

Q: Which celebrities frequent the NAFF? Do tell!
A: We already clarified the NAFF is not “Ebertfest” or vice versa, dearest autograph hounds and selfie seekers in the audience! Our humble festival is hardly a magnet for the Hollywood or Internet elite, so we’re pretty satisfied if “local celebrities” choose to hang out with us every year. We can verify, however, that several actors and crew members of past NAFF selections have since moved on to professional entertainment careers on the coasts or in Chicago.


The After NAFF

Q: Are there any NAFF-related satellite events?
A: Watch our ‘Blog for announcements in this regard!

Q: Do you sponsor NAFF-branded events at other times of the year?
A: We are considering a bonus NAFF event in early 2020 to mark its 10th anniversary, hopefully during the Boneyard Arts Festival. If the demand for year-round NAFF would ever reach a tipping point, then we’ll consider it!


[rev. 7-28-2019 jp]


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About The NAFF

The New Art Film Festival is an annual festival showcasing local filmmakers from Champaign-Urbana, IL, and other downstate Illinois cities.

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