The Seattle International Film Festival is presented each year from mid-May to mid-June. It is the largest film festival in the United States, presenting more than 400 features, documentaries, and short films to an audience of 140,000 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.
Launched in 2016, SIFF programmers choose a dozen films from around the world to be spotlighted for special attention and competition. Films in Official Competition represent some of the best films from the past year, and can be from emerging or established filmmakers. The jury for the Official Competition is composed of film industry professionals and journalists. This award carries a cash prize of $5000 US dollars.
New Directors Competition
One of the most important and eagerly anticipated SIFF showcases each year contains a selection of international directors who are clearly emerging as major talents. SIFF programmers choose a dozen films from around the world to be spotlighted for special attention and competition. Each of the films must be a debut or second feature by the selected director, and each is chosen on the basis of its original conception, striking style and overall excellence. The jury for the New Directors Competition is composed of film industry professionals and journalists. This award carries a cash prize of $5000 US dollars.
These exceptional films, both fiction and non-fiction, hailing from Ibero-America, will be judged by an international panel of jurors who will choose the film they feel best illuminates and captures the strong voice of Ibero-America, new visions or voices, or represents a new direction in filmmaking. This award carries a cash prize of $5000 dollars US.
New American Cinema Competition
With each passing year, the output from American filmmakers continues to surprise, confound, and inspire us. From lyrical science fiction to stark realism, we assemble a set of films that we are sure will delight audiences looking to explore the exciting vanguard of New American Cinema. Each of the films must be without US distribution at the time of selection, and each is chosen on the basis of its original conception, striking style and overall excellence. The jury for the New American Cinema Competition is composed of the FIPRESCI, the international film critic's association. This award carries a cash prize of $5000 US dollars.
These 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. This award carries a cash prize of $5000 dollars US.
Films are selected on an invite only basis from eligible entries by the programming committee.
Short Film Competition
SIFF is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards® in all three short film categories. Culled from the more than 3000 submissions a year, approximately 150 shorts are selected to play during ShortsFest weekend or before feature film presentations. This is a popular and exciting section of the film festival 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 $2,500 each will be awarded, in the categories of Live Action, Animation and Documentary.
Definitions of Categories and Terms
- Feature Length Film: a narrative, animated or experimental film 31+ minutes in length.
- Short Film: 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.
- FutureWave films are films made by youth aged 18 or younger at time of submission. They MUST be under 10 minutes in length. Applicants must submit proof of age with their submission (picture school ID, driving license, ID card). Submissions received without proof of age will not be considered. The received-by deadline for this category is March 1, 2019.
o Print Source: 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: A narrative, animated of experimental story 10 minutes or less in length that is told in a series, often on the web.
Films must have been completed no earlier than January 2018.
Selected films must be made available for Festival presentation in DCP or 35mm. Digital files are also acceptable for short films only.
Foreign language films must be made available with the original language soundtrack and English subtitles.
Entries may not publicly screen (theatrically or at a Film Festival) in Washington State, or be broadcast (televised) anywhere in the U.S. (including VOD and On Demand services) before June 30, 2019. 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.
Films previously submitted to SIFF will only be considered if they reapply as a new submission, including all applicable entry fees.
All film submissions must be shipped prepaid and packed in proper containers to arrive at the SIFF offices no later than their respective deadlines.
All films must be submitted as a secure online screener (i.e. Vimeo).
The following materials must be provided via FilmFreeway. Entry materials will not be returned. Incomplete entries will not be considered.
- Official Entry submitted through FilmFreeway
- Entry Fee: We will accept payment by Check, Money Order, Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Make checks payable in US funds to: Seattle International Film Festival.
- Entry Fee Waiver: The submission fee is waived for films that have 50% or more of the film footage shot in Washington State. No other waivers or exceptions will be granted. Please do not ask.
Films selected for screening in all categories will be notified on or about April 30, 2019.
- If a film is invited to participate, the film must be shipped prepaid, insured and packed in proper containers. SIFF will be responsible for return shipping charges. SIFF will not pay international shipping on US films.
- SIFF does not assume any liability for damage to prints due to improper containers or otherwise. All films in our possession will be insured against damage or loss while participating in the festival.