In 2021, the Seattle International Film Festival will be a Virtual Festival experience. Films will be screened through the SIFF Virtual platform, and available across the country to avid film lovers. Running April 8–18, 2021, the Virtual Festival will present the best in international and independent films from around the globe.
Historically, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States, presenting more than 400 features, documentaries, and short films to an audience of over 138,000 each year. SIFF is consistently ranked as one of the top festivals in North America, and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short films.
SIFF started out as an event aimed squarely at Seattle filmgoers, renowned for their strong support for independent cinema and their sophisticated, maverick tastes. Through the years, Seattle audiences have proven themselves to be remarkably astute judges of a film's theatrical strength in the American marketplace. This, in turn, has made SIFF a great testing ground for new films. Our emphasis on keeping the Festival an event aimed first and foremost at filmgoers, provides the films themselves with the kind of genuine audience response that has attracted the participation of so many filmmakers and film distributors.
SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. It is through the art of cinema that we foster a community that is more informed, aware, and alive.
Golden Space Needle Awards
Seattle International Film Festival audiences cast their votes in the categories of Best Film, Documentary Feature, Director, Actor, Actress, and Short Film. Among past winners of this expression of SIFF filmgoers esteem are films and talents, who went on to win Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, as well as a large number of critical and theatrical hits.
In addition, we sponsor nine internationally juried awards in the below categories:
The SIFF Official Competition celebrates some of the year’s most accomplished films, ranging from first-time directors to established masters. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
New Directors Competition*
The New Directors Competition features a selection of directors who are clearly emerging as major talents. SIFF programmers choose films from around the world, a debut or second feature by the selected director, each chosen on the basis of its original conception, striking style and overall excellence. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
New American Cinema Competition*
The New American Cinema Competition features a selection of US films which are clearly emerging as showing considerable vision, a unique voice, and promising future. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Ibero-American Cinema Competition*
The Ibero-American Cinema Competition features a selection of films from Ibero-America who are firmly expressing issues, styles, and talent from the area. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Documentary Film Competition*
A selection of exceptional non-fiction films will be judged by an international panel of jurors who will choose the documentary they feel best illuminates and captures the human spirit, pursues the search for truth, and feeds our insatiable hunger to learn. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Short Film Competitions
Approximately 100 shorts are selected to play before features or in one of our SIFF ShortsFest programs. This is a popular and exciting section of SIFF that has launched the careers of many writers and directors. All shorts selected for the Festival are eligible for this prize. Three cash prizes of $500 each will be awarded in the categories of Live Action, Animation, and Documentary. SIFF is an Academy Award® qualifier in all three short film categories.
FutureWave Shorts Competition
A selection of films by youth 18 years or younger will be judged by a panel of filmmakers who will award their Wavemaker Award for Best FutureWave Short to a film for its technical mastery and storytelling excellence.
FutureWave Features Competition
A selection of films curated for young adults will be judged by youth aged 13-18.
Films4Families Features Competition
A selection of films curated for family audiences will be judged by youth aged 8-12.
*Films are selected on an invite only basis from eligible entries by the programming committee.
DEFINITIONS OF CATEGORIES & TERMS
By submitting your film, you will be added to our mailing list in order to notify you of your entry's status as well as news about the festival.
Feature Length Film:
A narrative, animated or experimental film 31+ minutes in length.
A narrative, animated or experimental film 30 minutes or less in length.
Documentary Feature Film:
A documentary film 31+ minutes in length.
Documentary Short Film:
A documentary film 30 minutes or less in length.
A narrative, animated or experimental story that is told in a series, often on the web and 30 minutes or less in length. (See additional Episodic submission details below)*
The company or representative that will be providing the film print to the festival (this is not the film lab).
World Sales Company:
The company or representative that is in charge of selling the film rights worldwide.
Episodic projects must be a Seattle premiere, but it is acceptable if projects are already available online.
You may submit multiple entries but each series requires a separate form & entry fee.
You must have at least three episodes completed at the time of submission to qualify as a series even if those episodes are not yet publicly available.
The episode submitted for consideration is the episode screened at the festival if that series is selected. - -Exceptions may be made at the discretion of our Programming Manager. Super short series may or may not have more than one episode screened at SIFF.
Our selection committee will review one episode of your series to be considered for selection. Series that have compiled their entire series into one submission will only have their first episode viewed.
You may submit episodes in a "rough cut" stage but still must have at least three episodes of your show either public or private. A "final cut" should be provided upon selection, but if it is still incomplete, will be at the festival's discretion to present or replace your series.
No pornography. Explicit sexual content may result in disqualification.
Films submitted must have premiered on or after January 2019.
Selected films will be presented digitally through the SIFF / Cinesend portal. Selected projects will be sent the technical details and upload instructions after acceptance.
Foreign language films must be made available with the original language soundtrack and English subtitles.
For the 2021 Virtual SIFF, we will not require premieres, and will consider films that have been screened online as part of other Virtual Festivals in the US. We will give preference to films that have not yet been presented in the Pacific Northwest, either in person at a cinema, or as part of a Virtual Festival. Films (in all categories) that have been televised (broadcast) or commercially available as VOD or virtual cinema runs in the US prior to the Festival dates are not eligible for consideration. Theatrical runs following presentation in SIFF may be excepted from this. Films may appear outside of Washington State at other film festivals or theatrically prior to SIFF screenings.
You may re-submit a previously submitted film, with the proper entry fee, only if the film has been significantly altered, re-edited or re-made since the initial submission. We will treat the submission as an entirely new project. Please note that a project's premiere date must be on or after January 2019, and that preference will be given to new projects.
If you have questions about your eligibility to submit, please contact us.
- All films must be submitted as a secure online screener (i.e. Vimeo).
- Once a submission link has been received, we cannot guarantee that subsequent updates will be viewed.
The following materials must be provided via FilmFreeway. Entry materials will not be returned. Incomplete entries will not be considered and fees are non-refundable.
- Official Entry submitted through FilmFreeway with all required information
- Entry Fee: We will accept payment via Visa, Mastercard or American Express.
Local Entry Fee Waiver:
The submission fee is waived for films that have 50% or more of the film footage shot in Washington State. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about approval for a local waiver. Films approved for a local waiver must submit through FilmFreeway. NO OTHER WAIVERS OR EXCEPTIONS WILL BE GRANTED.
Films selected for screening in all categories will be notified on or about March 24, 2021.