Selection Criteria

The competition is open to international and Bulgarian student short films that meet the following criteria:

  • The film should be in one of the categories - fiction, animation or documentary.

  • Тhe director must be a student at the time of the filming. A document – stamped and signed by the University, showing the student status of the applicant, is required. 

  • The duration of each film must not surpass 30 minutes.

  • The Festival accepts HD digital screening copies with English subtitles (if the dialog is not in English).  The file formats are AVI - Microsoft DV codec, MOV - Apple QuickTime ProRes 422 codec, MPEG-4 - H.264 video codec.

  • For preliminary selection are admitted films completed after January 01, 2022.

  • Films that have been submitted to Early Bird ISFF in previous year are not eligible for entry again.

  • One director can participate with two films, if they are in two different categories and are submitted with separate entry forms. 

  • One film is allowed to take part under one single category. Once the registration is done, no changes to the category of the film can be done. 

  • There is no entry fee.


In order to participate in the preliminary selection of Early Bird 2023 you have to complete the submission form available on our website. Each candidate should provide:

  • Link to an online screener with English subtitles (if the dialog is not in English). Please note, that the link must remain active till mid-Ocober, 2023. 

  • Valid password (if needed)

  • Detailed information about the film and it's authors

The submission deadline is September 15, 2023.

Official Selection

The Selection committee will decide which films can participate in the Competition program of Early Bird ISFF 2023. The list of selected films will be announced in mid-October on the festival website, under Official Selection. The contact person will receive an email with personalized link to upload the following: 

  • The film with English subtitles (if the dialog is not in English)

  • Three stills from the film

  • Recent picture of the director

  • Scanned copy of a document, that proves the student status of the director

  • Poster 

  • Trailer (optional)


Applicants are solely responsible for obtaining all necessary rights and permissions for third-party materials included in their films. The contact person of the submitted film is authorized to upload the content and is responsible for any possible copyright problems (especially music copyrights).

At the time of the upload  the applicant grants the Early Bird Festival the license for a limited, public exhibition of the film and online screening.

Competitors unconditionally assign to the Early Bird ISFF the right  to use excerpts of the submitted film, its stills, and trailers, for the purposes of publicity and marketing of the film at the various social networks and on the website of the festival, and for other non-commercial purposes related to the promotion of the Festival and the organizer American Foundation for Bulgaria.


The unique and very special feature of the Festival is that the President of the Jury is the student who won the Grand Award at the previous edition of the Festival. This year the President of the jury comes from France - the director of  The Seine's Tears. The briliant animation won not one but two awards - Early Bird 2022 Grand Award and Best Animation Award.

The management of the Festival selects the other members of the independent international jury. The jury assigns the awards and its decision is final and indisputable. 


The prize fund of the Festival is 4 700 USD, divided into 11 categories:

  • Early Bird Grand Award- original sculpture and financing of the next film project - 1000$.

  • Best Bulgarian film - financing of the next film project - 500$.

  • Best Foreign film - financing of the next film project - 500$.

  • President of the Jury Award - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Fiction - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Animation - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Documentary -financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Directing - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Screenplay - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Cinematography - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • Best Editing - financing of the next film project - 300$.

  • SEECS Award - financing of the next film project - 300$.

One film can receive more than one award. All prizes will be awarded after the final screenings of the festival. The jury members are required to keep secret their decisions till the Award ceremony.


Early Bird Association has the right to modify this Regulations, which will be promptly announced on our website. The only decision-making authority in relation to anything not stated in the Regulations is Early Bird organizing committee.

The Festival is not responsible for any cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances.


All films submitted to the competition will be kept in the archives of the competition.