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 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, videos 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 30 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. Please do not waste our time or yours if you require 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
Films with dialogue in languages other than English must be subtitled in English

Note that our January live events have been postponed due to damage to our venue. As soon as we know when we can reschedule we will notify the filmmakers whose films have been selected. This does not affect the venues that we partner with and those will proceed as normal.

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, some may include screenplays. What you receive for your application fee is a very thorough analysis of your screenplay, which is why the fee is so high.

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
  • Eshaan Mani

    The KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is absolutely incredible. I am so grateful to have been featured in this great showcase.

    November 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you, Eshaan, for your kind comments. We love working with you and admire the attention to detail that you put into your films.

  • Sadhu Burlington

    My movie Little Samuel got a wonderful review from Young Critic and displayed in their official website. Thank you.

    November 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Sadhu. Little Samuel is a beautiful film, with a touching story about the power of honesty. We love working with filmmakers like yourself and, although this has not been programmed yet by one of our venue partners, since it was just accepted in September, I am sure it will be in the upcoming months. Thanks for your kind words. KIDS FIRST!

  • Mohammadreza Doosti

    Thanks KIDS FIRST!
    The presence of my short film (Number7) in your festival was a unique experience

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks for your kind comments. It is a pleasure working with you. We love Number 7.

  • Awesome fest with nice people :)

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thanks Farid, Appreciate your kind comments. We have loved working with you and appreciate what you bring to the universe of children's entertainment.

  • SPP Bhaskaran

    It was great to be a part of the KIDS FIRST! Film festival. We look forward to presenting again in the future.

    October 2022
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Spp, for your kind words. We love working with filmmakers like you and applaud you for your fine work.
    KIDS FIRST! Film Festival team