The Community Environmental Council, in partnership with Traffic Solutions, has opened the annual Green Shorts Film Festival for entries.

Submissions are due March 26. The top-rated films are eligible to win prizes — including a Macbook computer or a video camera. Winners also will be aired on Channel 17 and previewed at a special screening event and awards ceremony in mid-April.

The festival will culminate at the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. The Santa Barbara Earth Day 40 Festival will be April 17-18 at Alameda Park.

The Green Shorts Film Festival is an annual online festival about saving the planet, helping the environment and being green. The 2010 contest theme is “Bringing It Home” (also the theme of the Earth Day celebration).

Organizers hope to solicit compelling and entertaining commentaries regarding sustainable living, eating and growing local food, sustainable transportation, energy independence and a green future without petroleum. This is a chance for residents to share ways in which we can all reduce consumption of fossil fuels, reduce traffic congestion, protect the environment and reduce the carbon footprint.

Videos are limited to two minutes in length. Only residents of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties are eligible to submit entries.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges, including Phyllis dePicciotto, founder and former director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival; Suzette Curtis, art direction and marketing communications consultant for Patagonia Inc., Adventure Photo & Film and The Territory Ahead; experts in photography and video production from Samy’s Camera in Santa Barbara; Megan Diaz, outreach coordinator for the Community Environmental Council who has experience with broadcast journalism and the film industry in Los Angeles; and Bob Banner, founder and editor of HopeDance Magazine.

Filmmakers who need access to video, audio and lighting equipment can take advantage of Santa Barbara Channels equipment and studios. Click here for more information.

For more information about the contest, click here or call the Community Environmental Council at 805.963.0583 x105.

— Megan Diaz is the outreach coordinator for the Community Environmental Council.