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Celebrating Young Filmmakers since 1969

56th Michigan Student Film Festival -- June 1, 2024

Entry Deadline: April 30th

  • Date/Times: June 1, 2024 (10 AM - 2:45 PM)
    • 10 AM: K-8 Awards & Screening of Best-of-Show selections
    • 12:30 PM: High School Awards & Screening of Best-of-Show selections
  • Cost: Free admission
  • Location: The Detroit Film Theatre at the DIA
    • 5200 Woodward Ave. Detroit, MI 48202
    • Theatre entrance on the John R. side of the building (east-side)
    • Parking in the DIA lot across John R. or on the neighboring street using the Park Detroit app
    • NOTE: Parking vouchers are only available for DAFT festival workers/volunteers
  • Host: Ryan Patrick Hooper of WDET
  • Streaming: Watch live streams of both ceremonies on DAFT's home

Check out our Film Freeway FAQs at this link.

The Michigan Student Film Festival is unique in the nation for providing a public venue for the work of students in grades K-12, as well as giving recognition and significant awards to young media artists. DAFT is proud to present The Michigan Student Film Festival, now in its 54th year.  This year, DAFT will be once again using Film Freeway for entry submission.  Here are some basic tips:

  1. Create a free Film Freeway Filmmaker account
  2. Upload your film (which can be entered in numerous festivals internationally)
  3. Enter your film in the Michigan Student Film Festival (hint:  search "DAFT")

The festival is co-sponsored by The Detroit Film Theatre at the Detroit Institute of Arts and supported by generous sponsors throughout the state.

Important note on copyright.  To be considered for Best of Show award-level, entries that have material whose rights are not owned by the producers should include clear permission from the owners of the music, images, video.  DAFT offers many links to royalty-free music on our tab or at this link.  While educational-use of material can provide useful training for students, DAFT fully supports the ethical use of all creative material and encourages its students and teachers to adhere to these principles.  Any questions, please contact us at

STUDENT-PRODUCED: While DAFT recognizes the important role of teachers/mentors in the production of entries--especially at the K-8 level, DAFT reserves the right to not award a Best of Show selection if it is determined that the project was not primarily student produced. The selection committee may reach out to the producers for more information, however the responsibility of full disclosure of adult involvement lies with the submitter (teacher or student).


The 56th Michigan Student Film Festival at the Detroit Institute of Arts

What: The 56th Michigan Student Film Festival
When: Saturday, June 1, 2024 
Where: The Detroit Film Theatre @ The Detroit Institute of Arts & Streaming
Eligible: Students Grades K-12
Entry Deadline: April 30, 2024 

Watch: 2023 Best-of-Show Award Winning Videos on our home page

Categories Include...

  • Partnership Production: Industry/Education teamwork (e.g. work-based learning, media pro mentorship, etc.)
  • Animation

    • 100% Student-Originated Animation (e.g. single-frame claymation, hand-drawn, etc.)

    • Template-Generated Animation (e.g. software designs to assist production etc.)

  • Documentary

  • Music Video/Montage

  • Narrative Film

  • News/Sports

    • News/Sports Package (ENG--reporter stand-up etc.)
    • News/Sports Studio Show
  • Experimental

  • Public Service Announcement

To see/download the 2023 Festival Program, click here.

Online Judges Needed - May 2-6, 2024

Judges needed for online Round 1 judging.

PDF of Judging Rubric 

Honors include...
  • Special prizes for each category

  • $500 cash prizes for best narrative film and documentary

  • Certificates for each entry's students

  • Detailed feedback from multiple judges for each entry

  • All entries and student, teacher and school info listed in our full-color program, free at the festival and on PDF online


Find out about the rules,
specifications and prizes of the festival.

Please review our guidelines concerning
copyrighted and violent content.

Sponsor the Festival
Festival Sponsor Farm

Festival sponsorship not only provides individual, corporations and grant organizations an opportunity to support young media makers, each sponsor is acknowledged in a number of very special ways.

Encouragement & Support

The main goal of the Michigan Student Film Festival is to provide encouragement and support to young people who are already creating media by acknowledging their efforts, rewarding their finest accomplishments and offering opportunities for study and advancement.

Each entry is reviewed by educational and media professionals and their feedback is sent to student filmmakers to prompt growth and reflection on their filmmaking skills and approach.

Festival Junior Winners
Film Festival - Crystal Gallery

Michigan-focused, National Reach

In recognition of its work, DAFT was awarded the 2006 Governor’s Award for Arts & Culture. DAFT’s mission is to promote media literacy through the creative use of film and video.

The American Film Institute says that DAFT’s Michigan Student Film & Video Festival is the oldest festival in the nation providing public recognition for the work of students in grades K-12. In fact, many young people who got their first public exposure through this Festival have gone on to professional careers. And a few of them have even gotten awards at that really huge film festival known as the Oscars.

Poster & Program Design Contest

Poster & Program Design Contest

Deadline February 15, 2024

A Showcase for Young Michigan Artists

DAFT once again opened up the design of its official festival poster and program cover to students awarding the winner a $200 gift-card and two runners-up $50 gift cards.  Click here for more information and criteria.

Venue - Annually at the Detroit Film Theatre (NOTE:  Due to COVID safety the event is streaming-only for 2021)

The Detroit Film Theatre is located at:
5200 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48202

  • From I-94: Exit Woodward/John R, south four blocks to Farnsworth
  • From I-75: Exit Warren, west four blocks to Woodward, north on Woodward one block to Farnsworth
  • From M-10: Exit Warren/Forest, east three blocks, north three blocks


Parking is available on John R Street, directly across from the DFT entrance.

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