Black Maria Film Festival

*Named as one of MovieMaker Magazine’s 25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee - Spring 2010 edition*

Since 1981, the annual Black Maria Film + Video Festival has taken its name from that of the worlds first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison in 1893 and operates as an independent non-profit organization. For over 30 years the Festival has been acclaimed for advocating, supporting and widely exhibiting fresh short works up to an hour in length by emerging as well as by veteran independent film and videomakers. The festival's annual competition is juried by noted exponents of independent work and results in 40 to 60 works chosen for the festival's annual tour. The tour visits 65 or more diverse institutions in 20 or more states starting with the premiere each season at New Jersey City University, in Jersey City, NJ.

Some notable points differentiating the Black Maria:

  1. The Festival has a meaningful track record and is respected for its abiding commitment to short works. The Festival encourages and seeks creative, insightful, and/or sensitive, or free spirited, expressive, experimental, poetic style or an otherwise revealing approach to the material or subject. Works of interest to the Festival might be revealing documentaries or whimsical in nature, or passionately avant garde or poignant or thoughtful, and all genres can be of interest, but always the goal is to find original work.

  2. Every program presentation in the festival tour is custom curated and drawn from the season's award collection. Programs are assembled in collaboration with each host institution's liaison and may be arranged around topical or visual themes, may be intense or exploratory, or may be eclectic in nature. Programs vary widely from venue to venue, some focussing on animation or docs, others on personal memoirs, narrative or experimental approaches and some pushing the possibilities of the medium while others offer an eclectic yet stimulating selection of works. Each program is approximately 1hr 45 min. long.

  3. Virtually every program is presented in person by the Festivals Director or other highly qualified Festival representative.

  4. In recent years the Festival has presented at institutions such as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the DesMoines Art Center, New York Public Library, Millennium Film Workshop in NYC, showcases such as the Capri Theater in Montgomery, AL, and the County Theater in Doylestown, PA, and colleges such as Monmouth University, Rhode Island School of Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, U. of Delaware, Cornell U., Dartmouth, Princeton, U. of Colorado, Pitzer College in CA. U. of Arts - Philadelphia and many more across the United States. The Festival's premiere is held the first Friday in February annually at New Jersey City University, our home base host institution.


The Festival welcomes new submissions each year beginning August 26th running through to its November 21 deadline. Early submissions are highly recommended. Entries may be sent directly to the Festival at:

Black Maria Film Festival
c/o Dept. of Media Arts, NJCU
2039 Kennedy Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07305.

Print out and fill in the Festival's entry form if available on this website and enclose a check for $38 for works no longer than 20 min. or $48 for works 21 min. up to 1 hour long. Also Include a brief statement about the work along with the names and contact info for primary maker/s. If our entry form is not available simply provide any useful information with your statement above. PayPal may be available for paying the entry fee or submissions may be made through Without A Box. See below.

or see below

The 31st annual Black Maria Film Festival tours museums, colleges and cultural centers across the US and is widely respected for its commitment to the short form and diverse genres. Award winning works are presented in person by the Festival director and founder, John Columbus. The Festival can accept online entries submitted via Withoutabox offers various entry submission tools and one master entry form. The fee for submitting to the Black Maria via Withoutabox is $40 for works 20 minutes and under, $48 for works over 20 minutes up to 60 minutes (maximum length accepted). Click to submit your film as soon as possible - submissions accepted starting August 26th with final late deadline of November 21st.

The Black Maria Film + Video Festival which is the primary program of Thomas Edison Media Arts, a non-profit organization, is supported by operating grants and / or the in-kind support of the following organizations:

  1. -New Jersey City University

  2. -The William H. Donner Foundation

  3. -The Donner Philanthropic Fund of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation

  4. -The Charles Edison Fund

  5. -The National Endowment for the Arts

  6. -The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

  7. -The New Jersey State Council on the Arts

  8. -New Jersey Network-NJN Public Television                                                        

  9. -NFL Film & Video