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More 2021 Festival Information is Coming Soon...

The WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival, in partnership with the Cookeville Performing Arts Center is scheduled for Cookeville’s Historic West Side on August 28th, 2021. The festival is a celebration of the best in non-fiction film across various age groups, both in our community and internationally!

2020 Festival Films

Everyone has a story, and for the year 2020 those stories were told in a big way at Downtown Film, with a full schedule of festival award-winning documentaries, interesting talk-backs, engaging workshops with filmmakers, and delicious food and drink from area restaurants and bars. On Saturday evening, as the sun went down, the festival created a cinema under the stars for an after-dark film walkabout, with the top local videos from the American Portrait video categories projected onto the sides of Cookeville's landmark west side buildings.

Couldn't make it to the festival in 2020? You can still enjoy the fun by attending our virtual festival with BingeWave! Stream the films the same time they are being shown at the festival, from anywhere in the world! Get your virtual festival pass now! $5/screening or $25 for an all-festival pass.

Festival Submission Categories and Awards

The Submission Portal is now CLOSED. The Downtown Film Festival was open to submissions from filmmakers around the world, and winners received an award and a direct pipeline to public media, with winning work shown on WCTE. Awards were given in the following categories:

  1. Best Documentary15-39 Minutes
  2. Best Mini-Documentary – Under 15 Minutes
  3. The Stanger Award – Honoring and celebrating the best unfinished documentary
  4. Young Filmmakers’ Award – Celebrating and honoring works submitted by filmmakers ages 14-19 years old


Downtown Film has been an idea in the works for years, and WCTE is proud to partner with Cookeville Performing Arts Center to offer a new community initiative and creative outlet, something that can continue to offer a voice and storyteller platform for our region and home. Storyteller Agency founder and Film Festival Director Laura Holloway said, "It's wonderful that this will provide a new experience for the community, but also that it gives the opportunity for creative people to do what they need to do: create:"

WCTE CEO Becky Magura has been pushing for a film festival for years, and she is excited that this festival continues to promote WCTE's core mission of documentary film making.

"WCTE PBS is committed to telling local stories, but also to continuing being the home for independent nonfiction filmmakers," Becky commented. "The WCTE PBS Downtown Film Festival is a dream come true for me. I'm excited to partner with Chad McDonald and the Cookeville Performing Arts Center, as well as to have Laura Holloway of The Storyteller Agency leading our team. PBS American Portrait is a new series of user generated content and will be a focus of this year's inaugural festival. Laura has a wonderful vision of taking these films to the streets. I hope this is only the beginning of a growing community of festival enthusiasts as well as a pathway for filmmakers to partner with public media in sharing their stories!"


Downtown Film’s walking cinema tour is free and open to the public, with no ticket purchase required. Workshops, screenings at CPAC, and other festival happenings will incur a separate ticket cost. VIP wristbands are available for festival-goer purchase, including a full schedule of happenings, a limited-edition festival t-shirt or tumbler, discounts at local restaurants during the festival, and more. VIP wristbands will be available for purchase on Friday July 17th.


Sponsorship Opportunities can be found HERE.


  • All submissions must be submitted, with all required documentation and necessary file share, no later than 11:59PM on August 14, 2020.
  • Competition is open to everyone.
  • Accepting film lengths of 15-39 minutes (Short), and under 15 minutes (Mini-Doc). Any film submissions exceeding 39 minutes will not be accepted.
  • Films not in the English language must be subtitled in English.
  • Entries must be submitted for pre-screening on Vimeo or YouTube link. If you use a secured link, you are REQUIRED to keep us updated with passwords or your film may be rejected. NO HARD COPIES WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR ENTRIES.
  • Each filmmaker may submit up to two entries.
  • WCTE employees, including seasonal staff, board members, sponsors, and their immediate families, may submit films for screening consideration, but are not eligible for competition in any category at this festival.
  • By submitting your work (features, shorts, episodic & VR or 360 film experience) you are giving permission for the WCTE-PBS Downtown Film Festival to showcase your work at the festival and for promotional purposes.



2020 Film Festival Sponsorships

Film Festival Partnerships

Film Festival Venue Partners

Careful consideration is being given to current community, state, and national precautions regarding COVID-19. Our goal is to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy, and special precautions of our own will be taken at the festival to encourage social distancing and stay sanitary. We are staying ahead of this current and ever-changing situation and taking every suggested step to ensure safety, and our precautions and planning will be fluid as the situation evolves.