We are particularly – but far from exclusively – committed to the causes of emancipation, feminism, the queer movement and the issue of redistribution of power (diversity). Our curating expertise comes together in programmes that often anticipate important socio-political developments. The festival’s thematic focus is one example here. But the special programmes, performances, concerts, readings and workshop discussions also all set standards.

We honour films made by women through our awards, which carry generous prize-money. We support networking and film education, and conduct research on films by women. Beyond its international influence, IFFF Dortmund+Köln stands for diversity in the regional media sphere, and is a central pillar of NRW’s film culture. The festival is a key cultural highlight of the cities of Dortmund and Cologne.

The IFFF Dortmund+Köln takes place annually, alternating between Dortmund and Cologne, with a selection programme always being offered in the other city.


International Feature Film Competition (held biannually in Dortmund)

The Dortmund Feature Film Competition gives directors a platform who have presented interesting debuts or already have a larger oeuvre. It showcases the latest productions from highly-renowned women directors. Over the years, these included the grande dames of the film industry such as Agnieszka Holland, Andrea Arnold and Sally Potter line up against younger stars such as Maren Ade, Athina Rachel Tsangari and Teona Strugar Mitevska.


International Debut Feature Film Competition for Women Directors (held biannually in Cologne)

In this section women film-makers compete with their debuts for the prize of Best International Debut Feature Film, which comes endowed with € 10,000. Through the debut award as conferred in Cologne, Internationales Frauen* Film Fest Dortmund+Köln aims initially to honour the work of upcoming film direction talent. Yet the award is also intended to provide women film-makers already successful in the field of short films and documentaries with the opportunity of pursuing further projects after the completion of their first feature film. In this way, in alternation with the International Feature Film Competition for Women Directors presented in Dortmund, it is hoped to create a continuing framework for festival and promotion activities. A jury made up of three international film specialists confers the Debut Feature Film Award.

National Competition for Women Directors of Photography (biannually, in Cologne)

Cinematographer, camera technician, Director of Photography – three terms for the one person who with her »camera I/eye« fixes a moment, a scene for eternity on the screen.

For more than twenty years the Internationales Frauen* Film Fest Dortmund+Köln presents an award for the director of photography – a unique award world-wide. For working with a camera and with light is not just an image recording routine but an active co-design process which demands interaction with the other jobs of set design, costume, make-up and location management. Even the actual decision as to specific film material, the use of filters or a special digital technique not only influence the final look of a film, it also contributes to the meaning of the image. Shot size, framing, camera position and camera movement all make up the narrative of the film. It is in this way that, following consultation between the Director of Photography and the film director, the image itself can take on a narrative instance of its own right.
The National Director of Photography Award was founded in 2001 in Dortmund and has moved to Cologne in 2012. The Internationales Frauen* Film Fest Dortmund+Köln has always sought close relations with the film academies of NRW; when the DoP department in Dortmund closed the training shifted to Cologne to the ifs – internationale filmschule köln, and KHM – Kunsthochschule für Medien.
The National Director of Photography Award is endowed with prize money of € 5,000 – 2.500 € respectively in the categories feature film and documentary. It is presented by a jury of international DoPs biannually in Cologne.

We accept films of all lengths and genres (diploma films and films of the first two years after completion of studies) made by women Directors of Photography who live and work in Germany respectively finished their studies in Germany.

Shoot – KHM & IFFF Dortmund+Köln Award for Emerging Female Artist of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne

Shoot – KHM & IFFF Dortmund+Köln Award for Female Artists of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne is aimed at female directors who graduated from the Academy of Media Arts Cologne in the year prior to the Festival. The aim and purpose of this new award is to identify emerging and up-and-coming artists, to introduce them to a broad audience and to provide financial support. The word shoot can mean to make a film, but it also refers to a young plant or offspring. It’s a widely known fact that transitioning from art or film school to the competitive professional world is often a very tough journey. This is why the new ›shoots‹ must be supported and integrated into networks, especially when transitioning from a university of the arts to the independent professional world and ›the market‹.

Shoot is a joint gender equality collaboration between Equality / Discrimination of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM) and IFFF Dortmund+Köln, and comes with prize money of €1,000. The films are shown as part of the new section, Spot on, NRW!

ECFA Short Film Award

In 2020 the Festival launched an award for the best short film for children. The ECFA Short Film Award, which does not include any prize money, is awarded to a European short film for children by a jury made up of three members of the European Children’s Film Association. Films up to 30 minutes long from the Festival’s children’s and youth programme are nominated.

Even though the award carries no prize money, it is highly regarded internationally as the jury panel consists of experts in European children’s film. Each winning film is also nominated for the competition for the best European children’s film of the year. This selection is compiled by all ECFA members, and since 2011 the award has been presented at the Berlinale.

In collaboration with the European Childrens Film Association.

Audience Award

The Audience Award is where festival audiences decide which film they feel deserves recognition. The award acts as a kind of opinion indicator separate from the professional juries, and tells us what our audiences are currently most interested in. The Audience Award, worth €1,000, is sponsored alternately by film magazine choices in Cologne and Sparkasse Dortmund in Dortmund. Entries must be at least 60 minutes long and no more than two years old. We look forward to receiving your vote!

Non-competitive programme series


The festival’s special theme section.


Desired! – film lust & queer


The experimental documentary and short film section.


Spot on, NRW!
The regional slot.


IFFF Revisited
The archive section.


Our established programme series are supplemented by annually changing Specials such as one-off events, exhibitions, concerts and collaborations.

Year-specific programme (monthly programme)

IFFF Dortmund+Köln sees film as an expanded concept that doesn’t restrict the screening of films to classical cinema. The festival advocates showing films in all kinds of formats. And so, on top of the festival’s core programme, it has a film programme specific to each year, and features regular collaborations, holds talks and panel discussions, artistic projects and interventions in public spaces as well as book publications.