Frequently Asked Questions


What do I need to submit my film?

Submission copies must be submitted online (no DVDs, Blu-rays, DCPS, thumb drives or other physical media will be considered). All entries selected into Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week grants the right to use film stills and portions of accepted films for promotional purposes. 

Do you accept online screeners? Can I send an outside link?

YES. We have now transitioned to only accept online screeners, we can no longer accept submissions on DVD or Blu-Ray. Please do not send DVDs or Blu-Rays to our office, they will be recycled. 

Who are your screeners?

We use 10 - 20 screeners to watch films each year. Some are academics, some are filmmakers, some have been affiliated with Hispanic Access Foundation for years, some screen for other festivals, and others are past Hispanic Access alums.

Can someone who submitted a film or worked on a submitted film also be a screener?

Yes, but any screeners who were involved in the production of a submitted film will be restricted from judging films in the same category they submitted in. Failure to disclose involvement in a submitted film may result in immediate dismissal from the screening committee (and forfeit of any earned points/rewards). 

How are films scored?

Each film is watched by multiple screeners and evaluated across several different criteria. Screeners are asked a series of questions about each film, working to determine whether or not the film is a good fit for the festival.

  • Originality - The uniqueness and originality of the premise or story.
  • Creativity - The effective use of imagination as evidenced in the entry.
  • Plot - The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points that propel the story forward. How the story unfolds.
  • Pacing & Structure - The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements and character development. The framework of the film or script. Effective use of three-act, odyssey, linear or non-linear story progression.
  • Characters - Personalities that are distinctive, compelling, multi-layered, and unpredictable. A protagonist and antagonist with clear and active goals.
  • Cinematography - The quality of cinematography or videography demonstrated in the work.
  • Sound Quality - Is the dialogue clear and not hindered by any noise or music score.
  • Music Score - Is the music score suited to the film and does it help tell the story s a character of it's own.
  • Entertainment Value - Does the story keep the viewer's or reader's attention?  It is fun, engaging, or thought provoking?
  • Dialogue - Voices that are natural, succinct, and unique to each character. Use of language that effectively reveals character and moves the story forward. OR, is the lack of dialogue used effective.
  • Message Effectiveness - Does the film clearly depict the message of the charity or cause it represents.  Is the charity/cause clearly identified and is the message it sends effective.
  • Call to Action - Does the film create a desire in the viewer to make a change, spread the message further or taking a call to action.

Are films selected solely on screener feedback?

No. It’s a film’s content, quality and originality that matter, not its score. While screener feedback is important and helpful to the assessment process, it is not an ultimate qualifier. 

Are films only selected from the group that received high marks from screeners?

No. Programmers will go through notes from each film, regardless of how high or low it scored. Films that did not make the final round but thematically complete a program or pair well with a feature may be re-evaluated and selected. Film selection is about making curatorial choices that make the strongest group of films, and we strive to revisit as many films as possible to make sure we create the strongest lineup.

Can I find out how my film is doing once I’ve submitted?

No. Please do not call or email us asking for updates on your film. Furthermore, the submission review process is long and complex, and typically doesn’t firm up until very close to our notification date. There are films that receive high scores from screeners early on that simply don’t have a place in the festival. There are also films that receive so-so scores from screeners that end up being the missing piece in the program. We don’t want to tell you anything we cannot absolutely commit to. You’ll know when we do.

Who makes final selections and decides awards?

Final selections are made by the panel of filmmakers, educators, Hispanic Access Foundation staff, media and conservation professionals chooses films that will be showcased in the film week.

Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week
is an initiative of Hispanic 
Access Foundation.

P: (202) 640-4342