Reel Spirit, the Youth division of Kansas City FilmFest, engages, educates, and empowers young filmmakers in grades 2-9 through a youth film competition. Entries must be completely student created and are judged by industry professionals.

Grades 2-9 Categories include: Animation, Commercial, Documentary, Narrative, Factual News Feature, Fictional News Feature, PSA (Public Service Announcement), and "Reel" Spirit of STEAM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math). Maximum run times range from 2-5 minutes.

Filmmakers of winning films and their families are invited to attend the Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers Showcase, which may be held in person or online. This year may be challenging both for filmmakers and event production. We encourage all young filmmakers to find creative ways to engage in this "new normal" and present the best they have to offer.

We’re excited to welcome entries for our Reel Spirit Showcase competition in the Spring of 2024! The award ceremony location will be announced soon. Due to the extenuating circumstances, we know filmmaking may be a challeng. If we don’t receive enough submissions to hold a competition, we reserve the right to either host an online event only, with no awards, or to simply cancel the Reel Spirit Showcase. In the event of a cancellation of the the entire Showcase, we will issue a refund to all films entered.  

Awards will be provided for each winning film for grades 2-9. Additional awards may be purchased at the expense of the individual.

Filmmakers whose films place first, second, or third receive a certificate of excellence screening of his/her film in front of an audience.

Films must be completely student created and are judged on content, camera work, editing, audio/sound, talent/voice, and overall creative expression.

IMPORTANT: In addition to submitting a film through FilmFreeway, the Sponsor or Mentor for each film must complete a CONTACT and COPYRIGHT form found online:

The cost for each entry is $8.

Filmmakers compete within three divisions:
Division I (Grades 2 & 3)
Division II (Grades 4, 5 & 6)
Division III (Grades 7, 8, 9)

Submission implies acceptance of the Rules and Regulations by all producers, directors and/or actors working on the submitted film.

Submission Guidelines: STAY TUNED FOR DATES FOR 2024!!
• All work must be completed and submitted no later than the deadline date:

* Entries can only be submitted in ONE category. Determine which category best
represents your work.

• Winning films will be announced on or before for all Divisions

• All films must be in English or subtitled in English

• Original third party music, sound effects, pictures and reference footage may be used if permission by the owner/author is documented in writing and sent in with entry form
• Winning productions failing to comply with copyright requirements will result in the film not being shown at the Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers Showcase, website or other public screenings

• Credits included on your film should NOT include:
Actor's last name
Teacher/Sponsor name
Submitting school name

• Credits on your film MUST include:
Sources for Music, sound effects, pictures, backgrounds, video clips
Credits on your film MAY include:
Actor's first name only - no last names

• Any copyright infringement will result in a three point penalty

• Subject matter must be appropriate - no violence or inappropriate language
• Entries with extraneous materials, such as “bloopers” will not be accepted
• The filmmaker(s) must secure all rights, licenses, clearances and releases necessary for exhibition as per copyright laws and list those in credits.

• All entry materials become the property of the Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers and will not be returned. No refunds.
• Entries are released to the organizers/sponsors of Reel Spirit for promotional materials, copies and right to show film in the Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers Showcase without compensation or payment.
• By submitting a film, you acknowledge the Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers right to copy any submitted material for non-commercial use only.

AGREEMENTS: If your film or video wins, you agree to and understand the following:

• FORMAT: You agree to provide Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers a full version of the film via ONE of the following:
A. Grant permission to download the full version of the film from FilmFreeway
B. Send the film in a digital format
C. Mail a DVD containing the full version of the film.
Winning FILM/s must be received no later than , March 20, 2020 so we can build the program reels.
• SHIPPING: If Reel Spirit is unable to download a full version of your film from FilmFreeway, you are responsible for the time and expense to send a full version of the file via the internet or to ship a DVD copy.
(NOTE: Films saved in VIMEO must enable full version downloads from within VIMEO and provide password)
DO NOT UPLOAD A FILM FROM YOUTUBE OR WeVIDEO. SAVE THE FILM ON YOUR COMPUTER AND UPLOAD from your computer to FilmFreeway. We can accept mp4 format.
• LOSS & DAMAGE: Every precaution will be taken to safeguard films; however, if loss or damage occurs, Reel Spirit Young Filmmakers cannot accept or assume responsibility.
• DIGITALLY SIGNED RELEASE FORM: Sponsor or Mentor is responsible for dispersing and acquiring the Reel Spirit Parental Release form from all students involved in the film.
• Reel Spirit Parental Release form must be digitally signed/approved by a legal Parent or Guardian.

Overall Rating
  • Leon Robinson

    It was great experience for my son who loves making stop motion movies! Our family enjoyed the festival so much! We will definitely come back next year!

    April 2024
  • Elisabeth McClure

    What a wonderful experience for my students. Thank you for this experience.

    November 2022
  • Patrick Weaver

    A fun festival with plenty of great movies. Thank you for including mine this year!

    April 2021
  • Great opportunity for getting feedback and meeting interesting people. Even in the difficult lockdown time the festival made all this possible online.

    October 2020
  • Carter Rostron

    The Reel Spirit film festival is wonderful. There's a great variety of different kinds of films - documentaries, animation, comedy, PSAs, etc. And the event itself is very well done. Every one of the young filmmakers there is clearly so excited. I especially like the red carpet interview experience - so cool!

    April 2018