The Social Justice Film Festival returns in 2023, celebrating more than a decade of justice through cinema and conversation in partnership with a host of community partners to explore all aspects of social justice through the art of filmmaking.

Based in Seattle, Washington, a city known for progressive politics, technology innovation and stunning natural surroundings, the festival brings together filmmakers from around the world to encourage interaction and engagement through film and events.

The festival will include programming and speakers that bring attention to social justice concerns in the world, and celebrate the stories of groups and people who are working for a better future. We will exhibit shorts and feature-length documentaries and narrative films from the U.S. and around the world. With public health considerations, our hope is to offer a film festival where filmmakers come together as a community of digital story tellers for social justice.

Featured speakers for past festival programs have included author of "Dead Man Walking" and anti-death penalty activist Sister Helen Prejean, activist and actor Danny Glover, investigative journalist Will Potter, founder of Define American Jose Antonio Vargas, recording artist and educator DJ Cavem, activist and former captain of the Seattle Black Panthers Aaron Dixon, Yupik elder Bobby Andrew, activist and filmmaker Sanjay Rawal, BLM organizer Darnell Moore, Rev. Harriet Walden and more.

The Social Justice Film Festival highlights film and video work being done to encourage positive change around the world. As a movement, social justice promotes a global culture of equity, justice, and inclusion. Our films have spotlighted issues pertaining to incarceration, Indigenous futures, immigrant rights, the environment and sustainability, oppression, race and racism, gender equality, the arts and rights of expression and speech, animal rights, alternative lifestyles and economies, disenfranchisement, water and food insecurity, economic disparity, homelessness, exploitation, corruption, and more. The festival will showcase works that challenge society structures all over the globe on a macro and micro level.

At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is waning but ongoing; the government intends to end the public health emergency declaration this upcoming May. We don't pretend to know what the future will hold, and so while our hope is that we are able to meet, screen films, and have discussions and workshops in person, we may also have hybrid screenings and events online.

The Social Justice Film Festival takes place in Fall 2023, so we sincerely hope things are much improved by then. Ideally, the festival will be in-person in our traditional Seattle area theaters, but it may be necessary to incorporate outdoor drive-in events, online streaming, or a combination of options. For reference, the 2022 event was both in person and streaming, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, so rest assured that even our least favored option is still a great experience for audiences and filmmakers.

We are looking forward, and excited to see the projects you have been working on.

Thank you for all you do, and stay safe.

Yours, sincerely,
Jody Cole
Social Justice Film Festival

The Social Justice Film Festival awards honors by jury decision in each of our categories.

Feature films - Narrative and Documentary
Short films - Narrative and Documentary
Youth Visions Showcase - Films made by students and filmmakers 21 and under

Submissions officially open February 7th , 2023

Earlybird deadline:
March 15, 2023

Regular submission deadline:
April 15, 2023

Final submission deadline:
May 15, 2023

Notification of acceptance:
July 1, 2023

Festival dates:
September 13-17th, 2023

- a subtitle track
- closed captions
- open captions
- an audio-description track
for your film, please let us know and send a follow-up email about your submission to with the subject line: "Accessibility" and your film's Title. Describe the additional features i.e. subtitles, closed captions, audio description that are options with your film.

The 2023 Social Justice Film Festival is hosting our 11th year of Social Justice films. Only films related to social justice are able to be reviewed, and the selected films will screen in conjunction with panel discussions and speakers over the course of the festival in Seattle.

Selected films must be made available for Festival presentation in digital video file. Digital download of file via Google drive, WeTransfer, Vimeo download or similar option is the preferred format, or Flash drive via mail. Filmmakers whose films are selected should deliver their film in an acceptable final presentation format. Failure to provide the film in working format may result in the film being unable to play at the Festival.

Foreign language films must be made available with the original
language soundtrack and English subtitles.


Entry Fee
Entry fees are not refundable.

Please be aware that in all categories, World, North American, and US
Premieres are preferred.

Films selected for screening will be notified by July 1, 2023.

Shipping (accepted films):
In most cases, shipping will be unnecessary, as files will transfer electronically.
If you opt for physical media, it will be the filmmaker’s responsibility to cover the incoming shipping costs to SJFF. SJFF will cover the return costs to the US domestic address designated by the filmmaker.
SJFF is unable to cover international shipping and digital download is highly recommended.

The Seattle Social Justice Film Festival awards honors according to jury voting in each of our categories.

Overall Rating
  • Alex Sangha

    Such an honour to have Vinay Giridhar's debut feature documentary, Emergence: Out of the Shadows, screened at this prestigious festival in Seattle. Thank you!

    October 2022
  • Peter Menchini

    Great people, and we had a great time! Very welcoming & friendly. And our film played with some others that were exceptional. If your film is about social justice, highly recommended.

    October 2022
  • Paul Steinbroner

    The theme of Social Justice is the most critically important of this era. Hard to believe that there are not more like this one. So grateful for the selection of my film Journeys on the Red Road. Through this festival i was able to make contact with Gilda Sheppard who produced another film selected at SJFF "Since I've Been Down. Can't say enough positive things about what they do.

    November 2021
  • The festival had to make a last minute pivot from in person to virtual. I was looking forward to traveling to Seattle for my screening but all-in-all they did a great job given the last minute restraints.

    October 2021
  • Michael Rowley

    The SJFF team really believes in creating the best experience for filmmakers as well as their audience. The communication was great. They made our screening experience feel both professional and comfortable. You can tell they believe in the films and filmmakers they program and want the best festival experience for everyone. Many thanks to the festival and the Jury for awarding our film, Hurdle, with the Gold Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature! We are honored.

    October 2019