The KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival (KFDFF), which takes place June 13-20, 2022, is a collaborative partnership between the DADvocacy Consulting Group’s Daddy Appleseed Fund, and the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. The deadline for short-film and video submissions has been extended to Saturday, May 7, 2022, and all STUDENT submissions are FREE. Student finalists (there will be up to a total of 20 across 4 grade-level judging catagories) will receive a $250 award and have their entries screened during the Festival.

The Inaugural KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival provides kids and families with a positive opportunity for creativity and hope. It also provides a chance for more people to think of dads in a co-starring family role rather than as understudies. To achieve this goal, the KFDFF encourages students' self-expression while shining a spotlight on the importance of positive father involvement, a part that can be played by anyone willing to step into a fatherly role.

The KFDFF also celebrates creativity, authenticity, and communication skills and helps prepare students to think critically as they view film and videos. Because a child’s relationship with their father is not always a positive one, the KFDFF acknowledges that student submissions may also express the sorrow – or "daddy yearning" – they may feel when a positive father figure either has been absent from their lives or may not be present in the way he or she wants/needs them to be.

The KFDFF will take place virtually (6/13-20) the week leading up to and including Father’s Day 2022, with a virtual Awards event on Saturday, June 18, and also a "live" event in Santa Fe at the Muse Studios (pending covid restrictions) on Monday, June 20. Awards will be presented to winners by celebrities who have been active in publicly amplifying the importance of parent involvement and the joys it brings.

Juries: Initial jurying of the films will be done by juries of students and adults. Every film accepted by the juries will be passed onto a panel of VIP/celebrity judges who will select up to five (5) official Award nominees (aka "finalists) per grade-level category for Atticus Awards (i.e., a total of up to 20 finalists will move on for general public online voting during the Festival week). VIP judges will represent the media industry as well as relevant industry fields (e.g., Academia, etc).

Student preliminary jurors will be trained to critically judge the entries. The training of kids to critically evaluate media will be a lasting benefit of the experience.

Screenings: Due to current COVID restrictions, all nominated (i.e., finalist) films will be shown virtually and voted upon online by virtual Festival attendees for the final KFDFF Award winner in each grade-level category. Each film will be accompanied by a discussion guide created by REEL FATHERS to encourage dialogue between youth and adult viewers.

Awards will be presented to one winner in each of four grade-level categories at an online event on June 18, 2022. The grade-level categories are:

- 1st through 4th grade (elementary school)
- 5th through 8th grade (middle school)
- 9th through 12th grade (high school); and
- College (undergraduates).

All student finalists (up to 5 nominees/finalists per grade-level category) will receive a $250 Daddy Appleseed Fund award for use toward an activity to enjoy with their father/father figure together with a formal certificate. There will be up to 5 finalists named in each grade-level category.

The winner in each grade-level category will receive an “Atticus,” a statuette to symbolize Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The book was recently voted the best book of the last 125 years by more than 200,000 NY Times Book Review readers.

Atticus Finch, an iconic single dad, represents several ideal daddying qualities. Specifically, he is attuned to his children’s feelings and ideas and takes the children as seriously as they take themselves. To many, his character symbolizes morality and justice. The fact that Lee's story is narrated by his young daughter, Scout, adds to the importance of the symbolism of this award as it represents the simplicity of childhood observation together with the openness and honesty of "telling it like it is." The American Film Institute (AFI) hailed Gregory Peck's performance in the 1962 film based on Lee's book as "the greatest movie hero of all time."

The student winners in each category also will receive a generous scholarship (amount TBD) to advance their studies.

Theme: All films submitted for consideration by the KFDFF MUST PORTRAY POSITIVE FATHER-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS ANY FATHER INVOLVEMENT. “Father” is defined as any adult playing a fatherly role; the “child” (also referred to as "student") may be any age. Overall theme for submissions must be: "A message/letter to my dad/father figure."

The KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival (KFDFF) will feature two categories of films:

* First will be STUDENT films, 1 to 5 minutes in length, submitted in four different grade level groups: elementary (1st through 4th grades), middle (5th through 8th grades), high school (9th through 12th grades), and college undergraduates. The films must either be entirely student-produced or produced by a student working together with a father or father figure. Please refer to the description below. All films must fit the "theme" of the festival.

* Second will be a collection of shorts and/or features selected from independent adult filmmakers (and possibly studios) worldwide. These submissions, IF ACCEPTED BY THE KFDFF, WILL BE FOR SCREENING ONLY and ineligible to become finalists or Atticus Award/scholarship winners.

All short films/videos must be in English or include English subtitles.

Once submitted, a film may not be pulled from the KFDFF by the filmmaker for any reason. By submitting your film, you are agreeing to comply with this and all other requirements. KFDFF submission fees paid by independent filmmakers (i.e., non-student entries) are non-refundable.

By submitting your film, you are warranting that you are authorized to commit the film for screening and accept full responsibility to provide the correct format of your film to our venue partners for festival play.

By submitting this film, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless from and against any and all claims, liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including but not limited to attorney's fees, and costs of the court) which may be incurred by reason of any claim involving copyright, trademark, credits, publicity, screening, and loss of or damage to the screening videos entered. Note that this does include music rights for any copyrighted music. Even student filmmakers need to license the right to use copyrighted music.

If/when we accept your film for screening during the KFDFF, you will receive an automated notification, which includes the deliverables needed in order to proceed adding your film to our festival offerings. You will be asked to upload an electronic file of your film, to our dropbox. Once received, it will be uploaded to our password-protected film programmer's site. This is not a public site. It is for screening by our jurors.

If/when your film is accepted to the KFDFF, you will receive notification via email. All accepted films will be played during the festival on the KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival site. Winners will be played on the last day of the festival and you will be invited to participate at the live awards event.

We strongly encourage you to promote your film’s screening to your personal network of friends and family.

CORRESPONDENCE: All correspondence to the Festival management, including entry forms and support materials, must be in the English language and must be submitted online. At peak times during the submission process, it may take several days for us to respond. The Submitter will be the main contact for all communications. If you have questions, please send them to

WHERE TO SUBMIT: All submissions must be made through FilmFreeway. A separate online entry form, payment (if applicable - all student/youth film submissions to the KFDFF are FREE), and screener must accompany each submission. Entry fee, if applicable, must be paid in US Dollars and submitted through FilmFreeway. Entry fees are non-refundable.

Online screeners must be downloadable
Downloadable file types are H264, mov, mp4, and avi
Include the link and password, if suitable.
Download link must be available through the first festival date.
All short films/videos must be in English or include English subtitles.
BluRays or DVDs may NOT be submitted for preview.
The preview copy must be formatted for all-region, multi-zone, or Zone 1 (NTSC, North America) and clearly labeled with title of production in English.

PRODUCTION STILLS (Independent short and feature-length films):
Two high-quality images from the production (jpg, png or tif format)
Images must be 300 dpi or higher
Provided via FilmFreeway or emailed to

MARKETING LINKS - OPTIONAL (Independent short and feature-length films)
Websites, Social Media
Trailers, if available

OTHER PRODUCTION INFORMATION - OPTIONAL (Independent short and feature-length films):
Director headshot, 300 dpi
Director’s biography and filmography
Cast and Crew, names and titles
Posters, Lobby Cards, SWAG
Materials can be mailed directly to venue, please ask for specifics

Our jury consists of youth, ages 9 to 22, who have received training as jurors, as well as adults that are educators, media professionals, youth advocates, and parents.

Filmmakers will be notified regarding acceptance or non-acceptance via FilmFreeway no later than the acceptance date listed on this site. Additional information regarding scheduled screenings will be sent via email once your film is scheduled to play at the festival. Notices are sent out via email for screenings times or you can check at the KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival site.

Festival Screening Formats must be in H264, mov, mp4 or avi format (1920x1080)
Exhibition screener cannot contain watermark, time code or other markings of ownership.

The KIDS FIRST! Film Festival and the DADvocacy Consulting Group staff reserve the right to rule on cases not covered by these regulations.

By submitting to the KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival, the Submitter has read and agrees to the Participation Agreement and the Rules and Terms for Festival. The Participation Agreement is to be considered a part of the Rules and Terms and is hereby incorporated by this reference. All references to the Rules and Terms shall also expressly include reference to the Participation Agreement. The Rules and Terms are legally binding.

KIDS FIRST! / Daddying Film Festival
DADvocacy Consulting Group
4822 Bradley Boulevard
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Overall Rating
  • Brock Brenner

    It was such a great experience to be a part of a Film Festival that celebrates Dads. My Dad and I had a great time behind the scenes and looking at the finished product. Thank you so much for making it possible.

    June 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Brock for your kind words. We thoroughly enjoyed your film and having you participate at our Awards Day event. And congratulations on winning the award in your category. You have a brilliant future ahead of you. Please stay in touch.

  • Thank you, KIDS FIRST, Daddying Film Festival, It was a wonderful experience. It was a pleasure to participate in In festivals that celebrate values through our shared love of cinema and visual arts.

    I encourage everyone who can participate in this festival, to vote and share.

    Thank you for such a great experience.

    June 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Pablo for your kind words. We loved showcasing your film in our festival and working with you. You made our job enjoyable and easy.