Student Short Film Competition

Student Short Film Competition

The New Normal

One of the major impacts of Covid-19 on the New Haven Documentary Film Festival has been on our student competition. Students usually are completing their films during the Spring semester, now they find themselves at home, without access to the resources in their schools. Last year, the New Haven Documentary Film Festival created the NHDocs Student Quarantine Film Challenge. Due to its success last year, we’re bringing the challenge back, with a slightly different take, in 2021. 

At the New Haven Documentary Film Festival, we are passionate about equipping the next generation of filmmakers with the tools and the community to tell their stories. We created a way to continue helping students work on projects before the Student Competition. 

The Challenge: We are calling on all Connecticut Middle School, High School, and College students to make a short documentary (5 minutes or less) with the resources you have in your home. The theme this year is “The New Normal.” Students can interpret the theme however they like as long as the film is a documentary and is less than 5 minutes in running time. Students can answer the questions: what is the new normal for school?  For their parents at work?  For their favorite restaurants or activities?  How has life changed as we slowly move past the past year?  What is normal now?

The Perks: Participants in the NHdocs Quarantine Student Film Challenge can sign up for up to three 15-minute video-chat mentor sessions with professional filmmakers during the process of making their films. The goal of these mentorship sessions is to equip students with creative ideas for telling their stories within the confines of their current limited resources. (It is not required that students meet with a mentor to submit a film, but we encourage students to make use of this unique opportunity.)

The Rules: PLEASE be safe while you make your movie! We ask that you follow state regulations for Covid safety. That being said, now is the time to get creative! Can you hold an interview over Zoom or Skype instead of in person? Can you animate a scene instead of going out to film it? Can you use photos from old family albums as background video? Use the mentor conversations as a tool to make your film safely AND break new creative ground.

Who Can Enter: The NHdocs Student Film Competition is open only to students who are residents of Connecticut OR are enrolled at a Connecticut-based school.  

The Rewards: Have your film screened at the festival on a large screen for an audience. There will be a special prize category for these films, with first, second, and third place prizes. Winners will be recognized on our website.

Deadline: All films must be submitted through FilmFreeway by July 1, 2021.  Submissions are now open. Please submit under the Connecticut Student Filmmaker NEW NORMAL Challenge category. Submission is free. Limit one film per student.  

Questions or to set up a mentorship? Contact Lindsay Thompson at or Katherine Kowalczyk at  Or visit: