In 2023, the 49th annual Seattle International Film Festival will be a hybrid Festival experience, with Festival films screened at SIFF Cinemas and venues throughout the city as well as virtually on the SIFF Channel, making the Festival available to its wide variety of avid film lovers. Running in-person May 11–21, and virtually May 22–28, the 2023 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 200 features, documentaries, and short films to an audience of over 100,000 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.
Golden Space Needle Awards
Seattle International Film Festival audiences cast their votes in the categories of Best Film, Documentary Feature, Director, Performance, 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 eleven (11) 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 $5,000 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 $5,000 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 $5,000 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 $5,000 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 $5,000 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
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.
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 $2,500 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 youth aged 13-18 who will award their Wavemaker Award for Best FutureWave Short to a film for its technical mastery and storytelling excellence.
*Films are selected on an invite only basis from eligible entries by the programming committee.
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.
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.
Films submitted must have premiered on or after January 2022.
Selected films will be screened at SIFF Venues throughout the city. Selected projects will be sent the technical details and delivery instructions after acceptance. The 2023 Festival will be hybrid, with both in-person and virtual screenings presented as part of the official Festival lineup. Selected films will be given more details on the virtual screenings.
Foreign language films must be made available with the original language soundtrack and English subtitles. All accepted films must have closed captioned files available.
For the 2023 Festival, we will not require premieres, and will consider films that have been screened both in-person and 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 2022, and that preference will be given to new projects.
If you have questions about your eligibility to submit, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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 email@example.com 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 April 21, 2023.