PBS Short Film Festival
AwardsJuried Prize, Most Popular (deprecated), People's Choice (deprecated), Most Watched (deprecated)
Hosted byPBS
Festival dateheld annually, usually in July

The PBS Short Film Festival, previously known as the PBS Online Film Festival, is an annual film festival focused on independent short films, hosted by American public broadcaster PBS. The festival began in 2012.[1] In 2020, the name changed from the PBS Online Film Festival to the PBS Short Film Festival. In 2021, the festival replaced online voting and popularity awards with a jury prize, selected by a jury composed of filmmakers, producers and PBS executives.

The festival's films often cover social issues and are available to stream online via PBS’ website or its mobile video app, Passport, and additionally air on PBS’ member stations. The festival runs for two to six weeks and also hosts in-person screenings. As part of film selection, different member stations partner with PBS to find and submit films.


The festival began in 2012, showcasing 20 films, which aired on the PBS website and YouTube channel. A "People’s Choice" prize was awarded based on votes from online viewers. The festival ran from March 1 to April 16 and was hosted by filmmakers Patrick Epino and Stephen Dypiangco of the National Film Society.[2] In 2013, the festival expanded to highlight 25 films. Voting ran between March 4 and March 22.[3]

The 2014 festival ran from June 16 to June 31 and similarly had 25 films, which were additionally streamed on Roku and Xbox, alongside the PBS website and YouTube.[4] The 2015 film festival ran from June 15 to July 17 and was nominated for a Webby award.[5][6] The 2015 festival garnered 350,000 streams and 50,000 votes.[7] The 2016 festival ran from July 11 to July 29 and was the last to feature the "Most Watched" and "People’s Choice" awards.[8][9] It also included 25 films.[10]

In 2017, the festival introduced a Juried Prize, with a panel of eight jurors from PBS and the film industry selecting their favorite film.[11][12] The "People’s Choice" award was renamed the "Most Popular" award, but was still chosen by online voters. The award was determined by adding all views, votes and Facebook and YouTube "shares" and "likes." In 2017, films were additionally streamed on Apple TV, Amazon’s FireTV and the PBS app on Android and iOS.[13]

In 2018, the festival, which ran July 16 to July 27, expanded streaming to include Facebook video.[14][15] The 2019 festival ran July 15 to 26 and began with a screening event at the Howard Theater.[16] The 2019 jury included Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday.[17] The festival included Balloon Girl, a film by children's TV creator Shabnam Rezaei.[18] The 2019 festival kept a Juried Prize and the Most Popular award.

In 2020, the festival changed its name from the PBS Online Film Festival to the PBS Short Film Festival. The 2020 competition kept both prizes from 2019 and ran July 13 to July 24.[19][20]

In 2021, for the film festival's tenth anniversary, films were additionally available to be viewed in VR, across VR platforms like Daydream, Oculus/Meta Quest and PlayStation VR.[21] That year, selected films were separated into six topical categories: culture, family, race, humanity, identity and society. The 2021 festival only offered a Juried Prize.

In 2022, the festival won a people’s choice Webby award for best festival or conference, as well as a People’s Choice Webby award.[22] Those awards were among 10 won by PBS that year.[23] The films were presented in five categories: family, identity, culture, humanity and race.[24] The festival ran from July 11 to July 22.[25] An inaugural screening was held at the National Harbor on July 15.[26] Like the 2021 festival, the 2022 festival only offered a Juried Prize.

The 2023 festival was announced in January 2023.[27]


From 2012 to 2016, the PBS Short Film Festival awarded a "People’s Choice" award, voted on by online viewers of the year's selected films. In 2013, the festival also awarded a "Most Watched" award, which gave a second prize to the film with the most views or streams. In 2017, the festival changed to a single "Most Popular" award, based on views. That same year, PBS introduced a Juried Prize. In 2021, PBS retired the Most Popular award.

As of 2022, the PBS Short Film Festival only offers a Juried Prize.

Mixed Award table

Film Notes Award Filmmakers
2023 WINN[28] From REEL SOUTH. Cover's Pamela Winn's advocacy for the Dignity for Incarcerated Women Act. Juried Prize Joseph East

Erica Tanamachi

2022 Chilly and Milly[29] Animated. Also screened at Sundance and Miami Short Film Festivals.[30][29] Juried Prize William D. Caballero[31]
2021 Ms. Diva Trucker[32] From KLRU-TV Juried Prize Dana Reilly
2020 In This Family[33] Winner of Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest[33] Juried Prize Drama Del Rosario
Joyride From Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB). Winner of SFFILM Kenneth Rainin grant.[34] Most Popular Edwin Alexis Gomez
2019 The Moon and the Night[35] In Hawaiian: Ka Mahina a me Ka Pō Juried Prize Erin Lau
BT Lives in the Stitch[36] From Illinois Public Media. Follows the knitting club at North Lawndale College Prep High School.[37] Nominated for a 2020 Emmy award.[38] Most Popular
2018 Black Canaries Grand Jury Awards for Best Film and Best Cinematography at HollyShorts Film Festival[39] Juried Prize Jesse Kreitzer
Cowgirl Up[15] Premiered at Slamdance Film Festival Most Popular Nathan Willis
2017 You Can Go From Georgia Public Broadcasting. Also screened at the 2016 Tribeca Festival.[40] Juried Prize Christine Turner
Maria Stylized as "MARIA” Most Popular Karin Williams

Jeremiah Tauamiti[41]

2016 Goldstar[42] From LPB. Later made into a feature film called Bruising for Besos.[42] People's Choice Karla Legaspy
Artist's Day Jobs: Emily Lynch Victory[43] From Twin Cities PBS. Also called "Emily Lynch Victory – Painter/Math Trainer." Part of Minnesota Original web series "Artist’s Day Jobs.” Most Watched[42]
2015 Sinner, Victim, Saint[44] People's Choice Moses Flores
11 Paper Place[44] Animated. From Vermont PBS.[45] Most Watched Daniel Houghton
2014 My Dear Americans[46] Won Shoe String Trophy and Best of the Fest at the Rochester International Film Festival 2015 People's Choice Arpita Kumar[47]
Digging for Water Follows a Haitian community trying to find a clean water source after a drought.[48] Most Watched
2013 LIVE Art About the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC).[49] Not be confused with From the Wings: The LIVE ART Story, a long-form documentary about SPARC that won an Emmy award. People's Choice Bill Gaff

Martin Montgomery

The Story of An Egg Details the origins of the phrase "cage-free"[50] Most Watched Douglas Gayeton
2012 The Horse You See[51] In Navajo, with English subtitles People's Choice Melissa Henry


  1. ^ Jensen, Elizabeth (2012-03-18). "PBS Shifts in Time Slots Hurt Series of Films". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  2. ^ Clinton, Comfort (2012-03-02). "PBS Launches First Annual Film Festival, Hosted by Comic Duo the National Film Society, PopMatters". PopMatters. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  3. ^ "Four ITVS Shorts Featured in PBS Online Film Festival". ITVS. Mar 1, 2013.
  4. ^ momo (2014-06-06). "Coming Attractions: PBS Online Film Festival Returns". CAAM Home. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  5. ^ VIMOOZ (2015-06-10). "2015 PBS Online Film Festival to Feature 25 Independent Short Films". VIMooZ. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  6. ^ "NEW Webby Gallery + Index". NEW Webby Gallery + Index. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  7. ^ Votta, Rae (2015-06-15). "PBS Digital celebrates the best and brightest of digital short films with online festival". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  8. ^ Erbland, Kate (2016-06-29). "Film Festival Roundup: Nantucket and AFI Docs Announce Winners, PBS Online Film Festival Picks Lineup and More". IndieWire. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  9. ^ Uribe, Lupita (2016-07-11). "Local Filmmakers' Chinatown SRO Documentary Lands PBS Film Fest Slot". hoodline.com. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  10. ^ Shattuck, Kathryn (2016-07-11). "What's on TV Monday". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  11. ^ "25 Independent Short Films in 2017 PBS Online Film Festival". VIMooZ. 2017-07-01. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  12. ^ "The Ninth Annual PBS Short Film Festival Celebrates Independent Filmmakers and Showcases Diverse Storytelling". About PBS – Main. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  13. ^ "POV to Feature Short in Sixth Annual PBS Online Film Festival". POV's Documentary Blog. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  14. ^ "PBS online film festival features positive Muslim women and their powerful voices". Wisconsin Muslim Journal. 2018-07-24. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  15. ^ a b Staff Reports (2018-07-23). "Dreams of local rodeo star featured as part of PBS Online Film Festival". Mississippi's Best Community Newspaper. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  16. ^ Wetherbee, Brandon (2019-07-15). "Best Weekday Bets". BYT // Brightest Young Things. Retrieved 2022-09-20.
  17. ^ "Eighth Annual PBS Online Film Festival Showcases The "Power of Community"". About PBS – Main. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  18. ^ Milligan, Mercedes (2019-07-11). "Big Bad Boo's 'Balloon Girl' One of 25 PBS Online Film Fest FInalists". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  19. ^ Sayasane, Elizabeth (2020-07-21). "PBS Short Film Festival highlights independent filmmakers". The Daily Illini. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  20. ^ Gordon, Jacob. "SIU students showcased in PBS Short Film Festival". WSIL-TV. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  21. ^ Kurz, Phil (2021-07-22). "PBS Takes Annual Short Film Festival Virtual". TVTechnology. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  22. ^ "NEW Webby Gallery + Index". NEW Webby Gallery + Index. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  23. ^ "PBS Wins 10 Webby Awards". PBS. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  24. ^ Siegel, Fern. "Streaming News Round-Up: 'Only Murders in the Building,' 'Loot' Renewed; 'Documentary Now!" Announces Celebrity Guests". The Streamable. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  25. ^ I.Faleye (2022-07-16). "PBS Short Film Festival 2022 Showcases Over 20 Short Indie Films". VIMooZ. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  26. ^ "Short Film Festival Takes Over National Harbor". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  27. ^ White, Meredith G. "Louisiana Public Broadcasting asking for short film entries for 2023 PBS Film Festival". The Times. Retrieved 2023-05-08.
  28. ^ PBS Short Film Festival | 2023 PBS Short Film Festival Winner | Season 2023 | PBS, retrieved 2023-09-07
  29. ^ a b Major, Michael. "CHILLY & MILLY to Premiere at PBS Short Film Festival". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2022-09-08.
  30. ^ Grobar, Matt (2021-12-10). "Sundance Film Festival Sets Lineups For Short Film Program & "From The Collection" Retrospective". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  31. ^ Oswald, Derek (2022-08-19). "Chilly & Milly Director William D. Caballero Discusses His 2022 Animated Short Film – AltWire". www.altwire.net. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  32. ^ Haynes, Madisson. "Ms. Diva Trucker Before the Truck". PBS. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  33. ^ a b Bigtas, Jannielyn Ann. "Filipinx filmmaker is the Juried Prize winner of the 2020 PBS Short Film Festival". GMA News Online. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  34. ^ "2022 SFFILM Rainin Grant Winners". SFFILM. 2022-08-22. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  35. ^ "UH alum's short film picked as PBS Online Film Festival favorite | University of Hawaiʻi System News". Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  36. ^ Singer, Amy (2019-07-24). "WWW: Hello, Crochet Friends; BT Lives in the Stitch; Antiracism Symbol Design Challenge". knittyBlog. Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  37. ^ Johnson, Lizzie. "Knitting clubs provide refuge for teens from high-crime neighborhoods". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  38. ^ "NATAS Mid-America Emmys® | 2020 Nominees". Retrieved 2022-09-14.
  39. ^ "12th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival Award Winners". www.filmfestivals.com. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  40. ^ Wright, Vee. "Your Quick Guide to the Tribeca Film Festival". NBC News. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  41. ^ "Maria". Pacific Islanders in Communications. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  42. ^ a b c Tallet, Olivia P. (2016-08-10). "And the People's Choice Award goes to..." Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-09-25.
  43. ^ Bartholdi, Maria (2016-07-15). "Painting with Math: Storming the PBS Online Film Festival". Rewire. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  44. ^ a b "SINNER VICTIM SAINT Wins 2015 PBS Online Film Festival "People's Choice" Award | VIDEO". VIMooZ. 2015-08-03. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  45. ^ "PBS Online Film Festival Includes 25 Independent Short Films". WVPB. 2015-06-10. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  46. ^ Kumar, Arpita (2014-08-14). "'My Dear Americans' Wins PBS' Online Film Festival's People's Choice Award". Brown Girl Magazine. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  47. ^ Yalamanchili, Pavani. "'My Dear Americans' Competes In PBS Online Film Festival – The Aerogram". theaerogram.com. Retrieved 2022-09-15.
  48. ^ "PBKAAGA – Joshua Riehl Wins PBS Award for his Documentary". pbkaaga.wildapricot.org. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  49. ^ Staff. "SPARC Documentary "Live Art: Love" Premieres Thursday, April 25 on Local PBS Stations". Style Weekly. Retrieved 2022-09-25.
  50. ^ "WATCH: What 'Cage-Free' And 'Free-Range' Actually Mean". HuffPost. 2013-03-12. Retrieved 2022-09-13.
  51. ^ ""The Horse You See", a fun short film from Red Ant Films, is showing as part of the PBS Online Film Festival". Twitter. Retrieved 2022-09-22.