Children’s Film Festival Seattle 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 12:00 am – Saturday, February 10, 2018 - 11:59 pm all-day
Northwest Film Forum
Children's Film Festival Seattle 2018 @ Northwest Film Forum

Northwest Film Forum is getting ready to roll out the red carpet for its 2018 edition of  Children’s Film Festival Seattle— the largest and most respected festival of its kind west of the Mississippi.

The festival will stretch out over the course of two weeks, from its opening night on January 25 to its awards ceremony on February 10, 2018, with most screenings at Northwest Film Forum, in the bustling heart of Capitol Hill. Opening night, sponsored by The Boeing Company and presented in partnership with Seattle International Film Festival, will take place at the Egyptian Theatre, also on Capitol Hill.

The family-friendly extravaganza celebrates the best and brightest in international cinema that is age-appropriate for ages 2-14, and will include 168 films from 55 nations, spanning the globe from North to South America, Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The festival includes animation and live-action shorts, features, and hands-on filmmaking workshops, all crafted with care to appeal to a wide range of age groups.

The theme of the 2018 festival is “Dream the Future.”

“We want children to come to the festival not only to be entertained by funny and fantastic films, but also to discover common ground, to build empathy and envision their places in the wider world,” said Festival director Elizabeth Shepherd. “Now, more than ever, we see the potential of Seattle youth to become compassionate and proactive global citizens, and we are certain that the films included in our programs will energize and motivate them to make the world a better place.”

For young viewers, the festival is also full of stories of exploration and adventure, many of them to be found in the festival’s overstuffed animation section made up of 92 films. Visual storytelling in this category covers subject matter ranging from intergalactic voyages, to whimsical hunts for buried gold, to desperate dashes for freedom during wartime.“We look for films that show young people overcoming great odds, making a difference, charting their own courses,” said Shepherd. “This films are meant to encourage our audience members to think of themselves, too, as agents of change.”

Though the films in the festival show the broader world, the festival itself aims to be a cozy silver-screen experience for families, with most films served up in Northwest Film Forum’s intimate two intimate cinemas, seating 120 and 46 people, respectively.

Shepherd says, “Everything we do at our festival is warm and intimate, and geared to creating an age-appropriate experience that will enchant and inspire kids and their families.”


Festival opening night, sponsored by
The Boeing Company, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Egyptian Theatre, 805 E. Pine Street, with a gala presentation of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic 1986 film, “Castle in the Sky.”  The film is a breathtaking animated adventure about a young girl with a mysterious crystal pendant who searches for the site of a long-dead civilization promising enormous power to those who can unlock its secrets. The evening, presented in partnership with Seattle International Film Festival, will begin with a costume contest for audience members — a chance to strut the stage dressed as their favorite characters from Miyazaki’s films.

Another film classic will be revisited at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Northwest Film Forum, with the screening of “Invention for Destruction” (The Fabulous World of Jules Verne”), a rediscovered and newly restored 1958 gem by renowned Czech animator and designer, Karel Zeman. Fantastical machines, a deadly submarine, and science put to nefarious ends all figure into the film, which seems, at times, ripped from today’s headlines. It is also a visual experience like none other, with live action melding with animated imagery based on Victorian steel engravings. Spoiler alert: there is also a happy ending.

Hands-on workshops for kids will roll out on January 27 and 28, with workshops in 360 filmmaking and mobile filmmaking taught by Northwest Film Forum education manager and lead youth teacher, Jonah Kozlowski. A talk and software demonstration on January 27, led by British artist and educator Anne Terkelson, will introduce older teenagers to the digital animation program at Arts University Bournemouth, in the UK.  In addition to these workshops, free interactive, drop-in activities will transform Northwest Film Forum’s lobby, throughout the festival, into a fabulous world where children can actively dream the future in displays that are part submarine (with VR periscope!), part film set, and part special effects classroom. For complete information about educational activities, visit the “classes” section of

The second Saturday morning of the festival will mark another longtime tradition: an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption, at 1804 13th Avenue. After the breakfast, at 10:30 and 11 a.m., there will be showings of “Into the Magic,” an uplifting, all-ages program of animated shorts, at Northwest Film Forum.

Festival highlights in 2018 will include several insightful documentaries for families. “Purple Dreams,” a US film, is the chronicle of a triumphant high school musical production that propels its cast and crew —students who struggle with homelessness, poverty and gang-related violence — into a new world of opportunity and accomplishment. Another powerful documentary, “Not Without Us” (Germany), goes global, showing what life is really like for 16 children in 14 countries, on five continents.

Narrative features include the West Coast premieres of The Legend of Timm Thaler (Germany), Hero Steps (Colombia), Cloudboy(Sweden/Netherlands/Belgium/Norway) and the Seattle premieres of Treasure(Mexico) and Wendy (Germany). 5 Rupees (India) will be a North American premiere.

Animated features, for younger audiences, will be Bamse and The Witch’s Daughter (Sweden), a US premiere, and Lila’s Book (Columbia-Uruguay), a West Coast premiere. Also notable will be a program of international youth-made films, “World Lens: Youth Dream the Future,” will mark the second annual partnership between CFFS and the PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival — a joint initiative between the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the International Organization for Migration. The New York-based festival showcases films made by young people around the world on the themes of migration, diversity and social inclusion.

As in previous years, kids will also be decision-makers and VIPS at the festival — this year’s Children’s Jury, made up of 25 Seattle-area youth ages 9 to 15, will be led once again by a group of several teenaged jury graduates. And every audience member will also have an opportunity to vote for the festival’s coveted audience awards given in several categories.


  • Director Dagmar Seume, German director of the feature film “Wendy,” will attend the screening of her film at 3pm Saturday, Jan. 27.
  • Indian filmmaker Piyush Panjuani, director of “5 Rupees,” will attend the North American premiere of this feature film, at 5pm Sunday, Jan. 28.
  • Robin Grey, US producer of the feature documentary “Purple Dreams,” will be in attendance for the screening of her film at 3pm Sunday, Jan. 28.
  • Seattle Animator William Jarcho (“Not One of Us”) and Puerto Rican filmmaker Julio Benito Cabrera (“Youth Challenge”) will be in attendance at the screening of the short film program, “Planet Wise,” on Sunday, Jan. 28 (5:30pm). Jarcho will also attend a screening of the program on Sunday, Feb. 4 (11:30am).
  • Filmmaker Halima Lucas (Amelia’s Closet) will be in attendance at the screening of the shorts program, “Never Say Never,” at 1:30pm Saturday, Jan. 27.
  • British Educator Anne Terkleson, Production Manager, Arts University Bournemouth (UK), will attend the festival and teach a workshop for high school students on digital animation, Saturday, Jan. 27 at 1:30pm.
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