Since 2005, Children’s Film Festival Seattle has grown to become the largest film festival on the West Coast dedicated to children and their families. Each year, Northwest Film Forum has selected international children’s films from dozens of countries, reaching more than 10,000 people during festival screenings in Seattle and a subsequent festival tour of 20-25 U.S. cities.

Children’s Film Festival Seattle celebrates the best and brightest in international film programs for children, including animation, feature-length films, short films and hands-on workshops. CFFS provides a joyous and dynamic setting that aims to inspire younger generations to participate as agents of change in their local and global communities.

CFFS emphasizes visual storytelling that is centered on the experience of childhood. We prioritize stories that have been underrepresented in the mainstream media and inspire empathy, understanding, and a nuanced view of the world. Our commitment to racial and gender equity, inclusivity, social justice and global awareness supports our aim to create the best in age-appropriate, visual storytelling for young people.

The 2023 festival will be a hybrid festival occurring online on Eventive and in-person at Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Avenue between Pike and Pine on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Whenever possible, partnerships take our screenings to other venues in our area as well.

Professional Jury Prizes
• Best Live Action Short Film
• Best Animated Short Film

Audience Prizes (based on votes):
• Favorite Feature
• Favorite Live Action Short Film
• Favorite Animated Short Film
• Favorite Youth-Made Short Film

Catbus Kids Children's Jury Prizes (awarded by jurors ages 8 to 10):
• Best Live Action Short Film
• Best Animated Short Film
• Best Youth-Made Short Film

Fantastic Foxes Children's Jury Prizes (awarded by jurors ages 11-14):
• Best Live Action Short Film
• Best Animated Short Film
• Best Youth-Made Short Film

Iron Giants Children's Jury Prizes (awarded by jurors ages 15+):
• Best Feature

Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2023
Information, Rules and Regulations

1. The Festival

Children's Film Festival Seattle is an annual, competitive, international film festival presented by Northwest Film Forum, a non-profit organization. Our festivals typically include 50+ films from dozens of nations, in many different languages. Screenings are also offered to both the public and school groups.

2. Organization, Mission, Vision and Values

Children's Film Festival Seattle is framed by Northwest Film Forum's mission to incite public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences.

A nonprofit film and arts center located in Seattle, Northwest Film Forum presents hundreds of films, festivals, community events, multidisciplinary performances, and public discussions each year. A comprehensive visual media organization, the Forum offers educational workshops and artist services for film and media makers at all stages of their development. Artist services include access to space, gear, fiscal sponsorship, and an edit lab. Northwest Film Forum is a member-based organization.

NWFF visions a world where all people have the power to express themselves and connect with each other through visual storytelling and culture.

Based in the city currently known as Seattle, NWFF acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral lands and territories of the Coast Salish people, including the Duwamish Tribe (Dkhw Duw’Absh), who are still present among us and leading much of the important cultural and societal work in the region.

In recognition of the role of the arts as a vehicle for social change, we are committed to undoing systems of oppression in our work and lives. We are working every day to learn and dismantle racist, sexist, and inequitable systems in our lives and organization.

3. Entry

Submit a film via our FilmFreeway platform by September 15, 2022. Filmmakers are HIGHLY encouraged to submit films earlier than that, however, as we begin to make decisions about films and programs early. Entry fees for our festival are kept very low compared to most other festivals and we hope you will pay them, as all the funds collected will go toward supporting the important mission of the festival. However, if you require a waiver, please write to explaining the reason.

4. Eligible Films and Videos

• All entries submitted must be suitable for children ages 14 and under.
• The Festival accepts both live-action and animated submissions, completed 2020-2022.
• All entries whose original language is not English must be subtitled or dubbed in English.
• If your film is selected for the festival, we will ask that you provide captions for your film as a .srt or .vtt file (if they’re burned in, that is fine!). If your film does not have captions, we can offer you resources. (We often recommend using an easy and affordable site such as to create them.) This is a new requirement of our selected films and is an important step towards making our festival more accessible.

5. Selection/Festival Director

Selection will be made by the festival director and a selection committee made up of Festival and Northwest Film Forum staff. Input will also be sought from children and educators.

6. Criteria for Selection

• Film content should be creative and demonstrate artistic and technical mastery.
• Content should speak positively to children of diverse backgrounds and cultures. We look for films that provide strong role models for all children and must not contain gender, racial or cultural stereotypes and biases. The content of the films should cause no harm and fit our ideals of racial and gender equity, inclusivity, social justice and global awareness.
• Stories should be culturally authentic, timely, uplifting and of universal appeal to young audiences. Plotlines, ideally, should be child-driven, FOR children, rather than ABOUT them. Films with extremely bleak messages or unhappy endings are not a fit for CFFS.
• Films should not contain gratuitous violence or explicit nudity. Sexual content of any kind is not appropriate for our audience. Strong and/or repeated profanity will disqualify your film.

Entries may be disqualified for technical or procedural reasons, including:
• Any entry not subtitled or dubbed into the English language.
• Films and videos that are purely educational or instructional in nature.
• Films and videos that are aimed primarily at an adult audience.

7. Notification of Festival Status

The Festival will inform all entrants no later than December 15, 2022 if films have been selected for the Children's Film Festival Seattle 2023. Notification about BAMKids Film Festival (see below) may come sooner.

8. Additional screenings, including Best of the Festival 2023 screenings and inclusion in BAMkids Film Festival 2023. This section pertains to short films only.

Selected short films and festival short programs may be included in additional screenings taking place in the weeks and months before and following the Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2023. These additional screenings fall into two categories: 1) Best of the Festival screenings and 2) BAMkids Film Festival

Best of the Festival: Each year, 20-25 venues throughout the Northwest, the United States, and Canada request screenings of the prize-winning and audience favorites of our festival. Children’s Film Festival Seattle selects two programs — one animation and one live-action — comprised of approximately 10 short films each. The programs are then professionally compiled and sent to participating venues. Filmmakers and distributors should indicate on the Festival Film Submission Form if they give permission for their films to be included in this program. An honorarium is played to each participating filmmaker in this program, and filmmakers are notified of the venues offering this program..

BAMkids Film Festival: In association with Northwest Film Forum and other partners, the Brooklyn Academy of Music presents Brooklyn’s favorite children’s film festival. In 2023, BAMkids anticipates a hybrid edition of the festival, presenting shorts and features from around the world—representing approximately 25 countries in total. This festival offers audience prizes. All short films submitted to Children’s Film Festival Seattle will also be considered for BAMkids Film Festival 2023. The BAMkids Film Festival will be held the first weekend of February 2023. Additionally, BAM selects its own "BEST OF" program each year, to be screened in late spring or early summer.

There is not a separate entry form for the BAMkids Film Festival; the CFFS entry form covers participation in BAMKids as well.

9. Festival format of films and videos selected

All short films must be sent to us as .mov, .mp4 or .m4v files. Precise specifications will be provided upon acceptance of the films. In the event of in-person screenings, DCP will be accepted for feature films only and must be accompanied by a DVD or BluRay backup. Ideally, DCPs should be unlocked.

10. Correspondence and contact

The general office email is

11. Rulings

Northwest Film Forum reserves the right to rule on cases not covered by these regulations.

Overall Rating
  • Very well organized festival ! I was lucky enough to be invited in 2019 and I was excited when my new film "Bo and Trash" was selected for the 2023 program. Thank you!

    March 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Tatiana, we loved welcoming Bo back to our fest! :)

  • Darren Paul Fisher

    Brilliant festival! If you're considering entering, definitely apply. Great communication, incredibly supportive of the filmmakers. Just a great experience overall!

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Darren! We loved being able to share Scarlett's film with our audiences!!

  • Gisela Chicolino

    This festival is really a necessary one. Please keep working on generating this exquisite and outstanding programming for the audiences.

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Gisela! It was so great to work with you this year!

  • Kelli Caldwell

    What a wonderful festival! So thankful and honored to have our short film part of it!

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Kelli! We hope you can join us in-person in the future! :)

  • Anthony Deptula

    Well-run festival - an amazing slate of kids programming across all ages including teen programming which is an often underlooked demo. Super active on social. It was an honor to be part of an awesome fest and look forward to submitting to the fest in the future. Thanks

    February 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for your kind words Anthony! We were thrilled to be able to bring your lovely film to our audiences!!