***Added COVID-19 announcement at the bottom of this description***
The Social Justice Film Festival returns for 2020 in partnership with popUPjustice, LLC to explore all aspects of social justice.
Based in Seattle, Washington, a city known for progressive politics, technical 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.

Featured speakers for past programs have included author of "Dead Man Walking" Sister Helen Prejean, activist and actor Mr. 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 change around the world. As a movement, social justice promotes a global culture of equality. This includes issues pertaining to incarceration, 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.

***COVID 19 announcement added July 18th***

Here at the Social Justice Film festival we have been closely following developments during the pandemic, watching as organizers of events large and small have responded to Coronavirus.


Recent developments across the United States show rising case numbers. Johns Hopkins University data show Covid-19 cases are growing in the majority of US states, while daily new cases in Washington State have tripled since a local low in mid-May. Given these trends, we had to make a decision to plan for the future.

The Social Justice FIlm Festival will go on, but for 2020 it will move online.

We will continue to present films and talks virtually, during our October 1-11th event.

This announcement of our move online, though disappointing, probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you. We will move forward based on an ‘Opt Out’ system. So if our plan for an online festival isn’t going to work with your film, please do write back to let us know.

We are currently working to complete the judging and curation process so that all submitting filmmakers can be notified as of September 1st at the latest.

If selected, here is how things will work.

Many filmmakers at online festivals have concerns about how an online screening may affect future distribution prospects, future festival eligibility, and future awards eligibility:

If a film shows online, you might worry that it could be disqualified from admission into later festivals. Will it be attractive to distributors when the festival run is over? Will it be eligible for awards from major organizations like the Academy? In an attempt to address these concerns we have incorporated as many factors as possible to replicate the real-world festival experience. In this plan, you will send film files to SJFF as usual. We will host them online, incorporating a paywall, and DRM (Digital Rights Management) protections, like disabling downloads and embedding, and a limited time-frame of availability that begins at the start of the festival and ends at the end of the festival. Ticket and pass buyers will access the viewing experience with a password. For film hosting and ticketing, we are working with a partner Seattle-based organization, our friends the Northwest Film Forum. Established in 1995, the NWFF has been a stalwart advocate for independent film and filmmakers throughout their history. We are thrilled to partner with them and borrow their expertise and best practices for the 2020 SJFF.

Taken together, these precautions should limit potential concerns, somewhat replicating the limited-time, paid-ticketing exclusivities of a physical event, and preserving films as much as possible, for consideration by any later festivals, distributors, and awards organizations you may approach.

We are committed to the safety of our audience and community, and we believe that an online event is the best way to maintain that safety in this time, while staying true to the mission of connecting great Social Justice films, audiences, and film makers.

It is a lot to consider, so take your time, but please do let us know if you are opting out by next Friday, July 24th.

Thank you for all you do, and stay safe.

Yours, sincerely,
-Jody Cole
Social Justice Film Festival

The “Cliff’s Notes” version, TL:DR
>SJFF is moving online for 2020 because of ongoing Covid 19 pandemic concerns.
>We are working to complete the film selection process by September 1st.
>If an online festival is something you have no interest in, let us know that you are opting out, please by next Friday, July 24th.

>If your film is selected, we’ll be doing everything we can to keep them eligible for later events, festivals, distributors, and awards organizations by keeping things limited in time (Oct 1-11), limited in access (behind a pay wall and accessed by a password), and limited in sharing (activating no-embed and no-download controls on the video host site).

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 - Narrative and Documentary


Final submission deadline:
May 31, 2020

Notification of acceptance:
September 1, 2020

Festival dates:
October 1-11, 2020

- 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 socialjusticefilminstitute@gmail.com 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 2020 Social Justice Film Festival in partnership with popUPjustice, LLC is hosting our 9th 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 October in Seattle.

Selected films must be made available for Festival presentation in digital video file or 35mm. Flash drive with quicktime.mov is the preferred format. Filmmakers whose films are selected should deliver their film in an acceptable final presentation format. Failure to provide the film in acceptable 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.

Preview DVD
DVDs will not be returned unless accompanied by an addressed and prepaid return envelope.
• Key film still - 300dpi JPEG image, captioned with name of actors
• Film description and synopsis
• Complete principal cast and production credits listing
• Self-addressed, stamped postcard to verify receipt (optional)
Entry materials will not be returned. Required materials can be submitted digitally.

All film submissions must be shipped prepaid and packed in proper
containers to arrive on time.

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

International shipments must be accompanied by a
commercial invoice (containing the film’s title, running time, format
[color or b&w], value of shipment, and sender’s name and address).
SJFF can not help with customs clearances.

We advise all preview media shipping from outside the U.S. be sent with the following declaration:
“Free entry claimed under #724.12 (960.60). U.S. Tariff Act.
No commercial value, for Film Festival use only.”

Films selected for screening will be notified by September 1, 2020.

Shipping (accepted films):
It will be the filmmaker’s responsibility to cover the incoming shipping
costs to SJFF. SJFF will cover the return costs to the domestic address designated by the filmmaker.
SJFF can not cover international shipping.

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

Physical submissions are not returned unless the submitting filmmaker includes a SASE. The Social Justice Film Festival will make every effort to return your submission in cases where a SASE is provided, but cannot be held liable for your film in transit. Please, never ship a project's master copy.

Overall Rating
  • 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
  • Miranda Kahn

    It was a great experience working with the Social Justice Film Festival! I highly recommend submitting!

    October 2019
  • Michele Noble

    A powerful and super fun Festival run by a truly great group who are thoughtful, organized, innovative and insightful. Thank you: Aurora, Hannah, Daniel, Janet, Rhenda and the entire staff of hardworking social warriors. I was both proud and grateful to have my short documentary screen and be honored at this dynamic and unique film festival which uses the films as a natural springboard for in depth discussions concerning the important issues which dominate our political and social activist landscapes. With themes like "hope and democracy" the festival investigates through film and grassroots advocacy what change and community look like. An amazing and profound Festival experience to be a part of as a filmmaker or to take part in as an audience member. Great Festival! Well curated and very worthwhile for all.

    April 2019
  • Ashley Brim

    We were not able to attend but Hannah and her team were great communicators and we were grateful to be included in a strong program of films. Thanks for inviting us!

    November 2018
  • Julie Morey

    There is extra special meaning in being selected, then honored, by a film festival that specifically declares itself as being part of the fight for social justice—bringing attention to films that drive social justice objectives around the world. The films we saw, the people we met, the conversations we were able to have were uniquely compelling. To the SJFF team, thank you so very much.

    October 2018
    Response from festival:

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Julie! We're really glad you had a great experience and were so grateful to have the opportunity to screen your powerful film. Please stay in touch!