** Local Sightings Film Festival will take place in September as a hybrid fest, and NWFF will continue adapting to evolving recommendations to protect the public from COVID-19. **

Northwest Film Forum’s annual Local Sightings Film Festival showcases the growing complexity of creative communities in the Pacific Northwest. Featuring a competitive selection of curated shorts and feature film programs, Local Sightings 2023 invites regional artists to experiment, break, and remake popular conceptions around filmmaking and film exhibition.

The 2022 edition of the festival featured 81 shorts, features, web series, and music videos, incorporating a wide range of stories, perspectives, and approaches to filmmaking. Past festival successes have included animated GIF storytelling, interactive site-specific video installations, virtual reality dance films, and educational offerings, including the region’s first-ever Sundance Institute Artist Services Workshop.

Working in conjunction with Pacific Northwest film centers and community partners, Local Sightings will use screenings, panels, workshops, performances and more to encourage critical discourse around the medium, with an eye towards a regional elevation of the industry. The 2023 edition will again invite additional expertise from local collaborators.

NOTE: A limited number of waiver codes are available to those from communities that have historically lacked access or equitable representation in media. Please contact localsightings@nwfilmforum.org for details.

Image: "Face to Face" (Christian Krantz, Portland, OR)

Founded in Seattle in 1995 as an independent film and arts nonprofit, Northwest Film Forum incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences. Each year the Forum presents hundreds of films, festivals, community events, multidisciplinary performances, and public discussions. As a comprehensive visual media organization, the Forum offers educational workshops and artist services for film and media makers at all stages of their development. More information is available at nwfilmforum.org.

Local Sightings invites local and national judges to choose award-winning shorts and feature programs via a competitive selection process. Prizes awarded to filmmakers include cash grants, screening opportunities, production and post-production services, gear access, and other industry perks. Not all films are eligible for competition; initial pool of eligible submissions is selected by NWFF programming team.

All types of moving image media are eligible; projects must be finished within 18 months from start date of the festival, and the filmmaker(s) must live in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, or the Yukon Territories) or have had the majority of their production (over 50%) based in these states. Local Sightings does not require festival premiere status, though it is welcome.

NOTE: Please complete all required questions, as your form will not submit if any fields are left blank. If something does not apply, write N/A.

Please be aware that submission fees help NWFF cover fees associated with screening, programming, and exhibiting Local Sightings. Your nominal submission fee helps us support our continued work in presenting the best regional films to our community.

A limited number of waiver codes are available to those from communities that have historically lacked access or equitable representation in media. Please contact localsightings@nwfilmforum.org for details.

Local Sightings will inform all entrants no later than August 15 whether their film has been selected for the Festival.

Short films in all categories fall under 30 minutes; anything above that length would qualify as a feature film.

Films must be sent to us as H.264 files for online screening. Additional format options available for in-person screenings of feature films.

If your film has English subtitles, they must be burned into the film file. If your film has captions, please provide these as a .srt or .vtt file (if you prefer them burned in, that is fine!). If your film does not have captions, we will offer you resources to create an accessible experience for virtual audiences.

Please direct all submissions inquiries to localsightings@nwfilmforum.org.

Overall Rating
  • We had the pleasure to be invited back to Local Sightings this year and were finally able to attend our screening in person! A great local festival for PNW filmmakers. Thank you for having us!

    October 2023
  • NWFF is the best, thank you for making space for local talent!

    October 2023
  • Aaron Jin

    Had a lovely time screening a film at Local Sightings. Loved seeing all the films being made in the PNW and even previous filmmakers, such as Disabled List (who did live comedy before our screening).

    January 2023
  • I can't say enough great things about this festival. Great communication with the programmers/coordinators, cozy comfortable venue, and such a wonderful place that provides amazing content for the community year after year, inside and outside of the film festival. The premiere of my first feature film, MOUNTAINSIDE, was a dream come true, and it was all thanks to the folks at Local Sightings and the Northwest Film Forum. Thank you all for such an amazing experience!

    October 2022
  • Andrew Bell

    What a wonderful fest! Great communication and really supportive of filmmakers. Rana is amazing, patient, and kind. Beautiful theatre smack dab in the heart of Seattle, too. Will definitely submit again in the future.

    October 2022