KIDS FIRST! is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and we have an incredible event that has started to roll out – our 30th Anniversary KIDS FIRST! Film Festival – co-hosted by venues nationwide. The events will be a hybrid – a combination of live and online screenings, live streaming talent interviews and Q&A sessions, panel discussions and more – with an expected attendance of over 100,000.

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is known for its showcase of extraordinary films made by and for children, ages 2 to 22. We feature creative, artistic, insightful, informative, humorous and thought-provoking films from filmmakers worldwide.

Our 30th anniversary selection contains an remarkable collection of animated films, documentaries, shorts and features. We have films by and about children of color, climate change and the environment, social justice, and multicultural awareness. Some films offer uplifting messages for kids trying to cope with the global pandemic. Others offer insight into a culture elsewhere in the world, showing how similar we are even though our traditions might be so different. Some films are just plain fun; they make you laugh at their outright silliness, and leave a smile on your face.

The KIDS FIRST! Film Festival showcases new and classic children's films, TV programs, digital programming, DVDs and screenplays from independent filmmakers, youth filmmakers, and studios. KIDS FIRST! partners with more than 30 venues that showcase its selections for their kids and family programming throughout the year.

Submitting to KIDS FIRST! is like submitting to 30 individual festivals. Not all 50 festivals will play your film or feature your screenplay, but it will be considered.

Note that KIDS FIRST! Film Festival affiliates do not pay a screening fee.

Accepted titles must meet or exceed the KIDS FIRST! criteria and be appropriate for exhibition on a large screen. Criteria include:
NO gratuitous violence or abuse
NO inappropriate sexual behavior
NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion
NO condescension toward children
NO replicable unsafe behavior
Most importantly, we look for films that have an uplifting message!

Films must be suitable for children age 2 to 18
Premiere status is a factor during the selection process
Only completed works can be submitted
Non-English films must be subtitled in English

Awards are determined by individual venue partners.

Accepted feature films will get a First Look opportunity for distribution by Soundview Media Partners.

Screenwriters take note: Acceptance of your screenplay by KIDS FIRST! will get you coverage you can use to promote your screenplay. While our venue partners tend to focus more on screening finished films over screenplays. Although some may include screenplays.

Include in your description the age group you film is most suitable for.
PLEASE do not say "all ages" or "ages 5 to 100"!

Once accepted, a film may not be pulled from the Festival by the filmmaker for any reason. By submitting your film, you are agreeing to comply with this and all other requirements.

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.

Once we accept your film, 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 submit an electronic file of your film if it is a short, or a trailer if a feature. Once received, we will upload your film to our password protected film programmer's site. This is not a public site. It is for screening and downloading purposes only by programmers with our affiliated venues.

Feature films will only have a trailer on our programmer's site. When one of our affiliates requests a full length screener, we will connect them with you to get that. We will have them reach out to you for appropriate promotional materials once your film has been accepted for their festival or event.

Once your film gets booked by one of our partners, you will receive an update via email. When you see your booking, we strongly recommend that you contact the individual festival directly to see how you might collaborate in promoting your screening and whether or not you plan to attend the event.

We strongly encourage attending any festival where your film is featured and promote your screening/s to your personal network of friends and family.

Screening times and dates are solely at the discretion of our venue partners so, please communicate with them, not KIDS FIRST!

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 the "distributor" section is left blank, we will use the "submitter" information as the distributor. If you have questions, please send them to

ACCEPTANCE; When your film is accepted, we request permission to showcase it at one of our venue partner's festivals or special events for a period of 2 years. You may withdraw it after the first 6 months, if necessary, for any reason.

DELIVERABLES: When your film is accepted, we will request a digital copy of your film and a downloadable poster or production still for promotional purposes. You have up to 1 week to comply. Non compliance may result in your film's acceptance status.

WHERE TO SUBMIT: All submissions must be made through FilmFreeway. A separate entry form, payment and screener must accompany each submission. Entry fee 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.
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.

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

Websites, Social Media
Trailers, if available

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 adults that are educators, media professionals, youth advocates and parents as well as member of our KIDS FIRST! Film Critics team and other youth that have received training as jurors.

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 selected by one of our venues. Notices are sent out every Monday for new bookings.

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 staff reserves the right to rule on cases not covered by these regulations.

By submitting to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, the Submitter has read and agree to the Participation Agreement and the Rules and Terms for the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival. The Participation Agreement is to be considered a part of the Rules and Terms 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! Film Festival
112 W. San Francisco St., Suite 305A
Santa Fe, NM 87504

Overall Rating
  • Robert Lugto

    KIDS FIRST! Film Festival was a fantastic experience! The staff moves seamlessly and answers the inquiries right away. We're so thankful that our client was selected on this particular Film Festival. Thank you thank you so much!

    January 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for your Robert for your kind comments. We love working with you and your client. You are always reliable and a pleasure to work with.

  • I was very surprised that the jury of the film festival could grasp my creative intention as a director quickly, even down to many details such as props, songs and plots. This cross-cultural judgment is really exact. I believe that the film festival has such a jury, will be able to correctly guide and enhance the aesthetic ability of children. I'm a big fan of KIDS FIRST! Film Festival.

    January 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Ye for your kind review. We appreciate your word and your kindness as well.

  • Anna Lobacheva

    Great and interesting Festival! Thank you!

    December 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Anna for your kind comments. Much appreciated. We love working with filmmakers like you! Happy Holidays.

  • Marlene Hochman

    Thank you so much for including us in your festivals. We were thrilled to be a part of your successful event. Your laurel has proudly been added to our official poster. Sincerely, The Toy Museum of NY

    November 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Marlene. This is such a fun film. We love working with it and you.

  • Claudio Martins

    Amazing festival. Very respectful and and committed. They are very quick to communicate and easy to understand. An honor to be part of such a traditional and respected festival

    November 2021
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Claudio. You are truly a delight to work with also - responsive on a timely basis and ask thoughtful questions. It seems that when there are misunderstandings, it's usually when a filmmaker hasn't taken time to read our description. We are different in that we curate a film collection that is shared with many festivals. Let's keep working together! Love your work.