Overview – What is Z-Fest?


Z-Fest is an annual Twin Cities based contest-style film festival that features original, seven-minute, short films made by local filmmakers. The contest typically starts in late summer and culminates in screenings and an awards gala in late February/March.


  • Our mission is to promote, elevate, and showcase entertaining Minnesota short films.
  • In addition to the annual festival, Z-Fest staff and volunteers work to showcase and promote past films at various screenings around the Twin Cities throughout the year.
  • Z-Fest is a film festival hosted by Z Systems and sponsored by numerous companies and organizations in Twin Cities and greater Minnesota area.
  • Z-Fest Film Festival is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) corporation.
  • Each team must produce a seven-minute short film that is produced exclusively for Z-Fest. The genre and subject matter of the film are at the discretion of the teams, provided the content of the film adheres to the Z-Fest film content guidelines.
  • In addition to the films, all teams are given the opportunity to submit a 30-second trailer, which is posted on YouTube. A tally of YouTube ‘likes’ is taken for a fixed period of time. The trailers that receive the top three most ‘likes’ on their trailers all receive cash prizes.
  • All accepted films are judged by a panel of individuals with connections to the Minnesota film community.
  • All films submitted to Z-Fest are shown on the big screen in a movie theater, provided they adhere to the Z-Fest film content and turn-in format guidelines. The top films are screened at a final “Best of Fest” event. All screenings will be open to the public.
  • The Best of Fest screening is followed by the Awards Gala and Ceremony. Films receive awards for excellence in selected categories and genres such as best actor/actress, best comedy, best screenplay, best prop, etc. In addition to a certificate of award, various award winners receive merchandise or cash prizes.