The Social Justice Film Festival returns for 2021 in partnership with popUPjustice, LLC and the Northwest Film Forum to explore all aspects of social justice.

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.

Featured speakers for past programs have included author of "Dead Man Walking" 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 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.

At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. 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 in person, we may also have screenings and events online.

The Social Justice Film Festival takes place in the Fall, 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 drive-in events, online streaming, or a combination of options. For reference, the 2020 event was all online 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 - Narrative and Documentary

Earlybird deadline:
February 28, 2021

Regular submission deadline:
March 31, 2021

Final submission deadline:
May 1, 2021

Notification of acceptance:
August 1, 2021

Festival dates:
October 14-23, 2021

- 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 2021 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. Flash drive with 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.

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

Films selected for screening will be notified by August 1, 2021.

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 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.

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!