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About Borders | No Borders Short Film Competition

Submissions open April 1st through September 4th, 2023!


Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) brings back the regional short film competition Borders | No Borders for the third year to celebrate the rich narratives of the South. Borders | No Borders is open to short narrative and documentary films with strong ties to Texas, the states bordering Texas, and Mexico. The competition opens on April 1st with a submission deadline of September 1st. Finalist films will be announced with the Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2023 lineup in mid-October and will be screened at the festival.

Cultural exchange is often thought of as happening between countries, but it can also take place between cities, states, and even neighborhoods — anywhere a border is perceived or imposed. Houston is the most diverse city in the United States, and Texas, in addition to being the largest state in the continental U.S., shares borders with Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mexico, which each have their own distinct cultures and identities. These regions inform Houston’s past, present, and future with their cultures, histories, cuisines, ancestral and contemporary sacrifices, injustices, unceded lands, art, music, dance, theater, film, and storytellers. Borders | No Borders celebrates the complexity of Houston and its neighboring communities, all of which contribute to H-Town’s je ne sais quoi.

Borders | No Borders invites residents of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Mexico as well as filmmakers with meaningful ties to these areas to submit narrative and documentary short films. Films in all languages are welcomed and encouraged, but we request that films that are not in English be submitted with English subtitles to ensure that the translations best represent the filmmaker’s vision. The winners for Best Narrative Short Film and Best Documentary Short Film will each be awarded a prize of $1,000. There will be two additional Jury Prizes of $500 selected by a panel of six jurors. Past jurors include: Damon Davis, Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Sumie Garcia, Liz Purchell, Giorgio Angelini, Raymond Arturo Perez, Regina Agu, Francis Almendarez, Kolby Webster, Georgina Escobar, David Lee Huynh, and Eugenio del Bosque.

2022 Borders | No Borders Winners


Best Narrative Film: Mercury Retrograde

Narrative Jury Prize: Double Cultura

Narrative Honorable Mention: The longest dream I can remember

Best Documentary Film: sống ở đây (to live here)

Documentary Jury Prize: llueve (It Rains)

Documentary Honorable Mention: A Fine Girl


2021 Borders | No Borders Films Finalists

Borders | No Borders is generously supported by Independent Media Arts Foundation.

Borders | No Borders Documentary Finalists

Includes Águilas by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Maite Zubiaurre, Sardis by Colleen Thurston, Folk Frontera by Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn, Nonstop by Zac Manuel and Marta Rodriguez Maleck, Since You Arrived My Heart Stopped Belonging to Me by Erin Semine Kökdil, The Cluster by Grant Raun, and The Rifleman by Sierra Pettengill, and beyond starshine and clay by bronte valez and mer aldao. 

>> Read More About the 2021 Borders No Borders Documentary Finalists >>

Borders | No Borders Narrative Finalists

Includes Lucky Girl by Sidi Wang, Brother by Ya’Ke Smith, Markings by Yasir Masood, Tejano Night by Alexander Rosales, Thank You, Come Again by Nirav Bhakta, Blackwater by Boise Esquerra, Las Cruces by Vanessa Uhlig, Alien Abduction by Nate Edwards, and A Few Things I’m Beginning to Understand by Xenia Matthews.

>> Read More About the 2021 Borders No Borders Narrative Finalists >>