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Capitol Hill Community Post | 16th Annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle Goes Virtual to Celebrate ‘Love & Light’

Film still from Coyote and Big Buff by Ilena Yeru Pegan (United States) in the Promise to the Planet environmental short film program.

From Northwest Film Forum

For the 16th Annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle (CFFS), Northwest Film Forum goes completely virtual to honor the theme of “Love & Light” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

With sliding-scale, pay-what-you-can ticketing and a finely curated slate of films available on-demand, CFFS 2021 will be accessible to youth, families, and film lovers of any age, residing in any country.

To inspire empathy, understanding, and a nuanced view of the world, this year’s festival will feature four feature films and 16 short film programs representing 36 countries, with live-action and animated films delineated by age-appropriate viewing brackets. In total, there are 133 films in the festival this year.

Interactive hands-on workshops conducted via Zoom will center storytelling, animation, and experimental filmmaking using washi tape and 16mm film. Hands-on bonus activities, video greetings from filmmakers and an awards process facilitated by youth juries will encourage intergenerational dialogue around timely themes, as well as contribute to a dynamic festival environment, even in virtual space.

Since 2005, CFFS has used film as a tool for championing racial equity, diversity, inclusivity, social justice, global awareness, and the best in visual storytelling for young people. Crafted with care and concern for the urgent issues of the moment, the festival stands out for its ability to showcase the best and brightest in international cinema, while always upholding its values and commitment to creating intimate, community-minded viewing experiences.

Festival passes for short film programs are available; otherwise, shorts programs are pay-what-you-can, $0–25 sliding scale.


  • PROGRAMS FOR ALL AGES: Gentle animation for the youngest viewers and more action-packed fare appropriate for older kids and adults
  • YOUTH-MADE FILMS: The Radolescents and Youth Shine programs each showcase the creativity and resilience of youth determined to make films in spite of the pandemic
  • JOURNEYS, GENDERS, AND IDENTITY: A shorts block celebrating kids who live in their authentic selves
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CONTENT: A topical program centering on the urgency of protecting the earth
  • LANGUAGE-SPECIFIC CONTENT: Short film programs in Spanish, French and German for native speakers and language learners
  • MULTICULTURAL FEATURE FILMS: Four exciting works from Brazil, the U.K., Norway and Poland
  • WORKSHOPS FOR YOUTH: Virtual workshops on writing and storytelling for film, experimental film, and animation.
  • YOUTH JURIES & PRIZES: A remote group of 30 youth will award the festival’s coveted prizes, while audiences cast their votes for audience favorites

Undimmed by the pandemic, Children’s Film Festival Seattle at Northwest Film Forum returns February 18-28, 2021 with 16 short film programs that showcase the best and brightest in visual storytelling for children, uplifting and action-packed feature films from Brazil, Norway, Poland and the UK.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Love and Light” — a window into the selection process of the festival which focused on uplifting content and happy endings.

CFFS 2021 will include 134 animated, live-action and documentary films from 27 nations, all centered on the experiences, joy and challenges of childhood. In this time of continued staying safe at home, the programs provide families and youth an expansive window to the greater world, inspiring empathy, understanding, and global awareness.

“The content of this year’s festival has special meaning that can provide hope to kids and families,” says festival director Elizabeth Shepherd. “What better way to see the world right now than through the lens of international films that invite kids to use their imaginations and dream of ways to make the world a better place?”

All screenings will be held virtually via NWFF’s Eventive platform, and many screenings will come with bonus activities—including coloring pages and links to filmmaking resources—to build upon the topics and fun found in the films. Workshops where youth can experiment with washi tape on film, animation, and telling their own stories will take place during and around the festival with partners The Henry, Interbay Cinema Society, and Art of Me.

“We really look forward to welcoming both young and old to our online festival,” says Shepherd. “It’s a great place to see the world and feed your mind, and we’re aiming to provide screen time’s finest hour with these delightful short film programs and feature films.”

Young Warriors (World Premiere!) by Bárbara Cariry, Brazil


Young Warriors – World Premiere
(Bárbara Cariry, Brazil, live-action, 2020, 74 min, in Portuguese with English subtitles)
The road-trip film we need to see right now, filled with adventures and mishaps that miraculously always work out just the way they should. The film tells the story of a family road trip, filled with discovery, landscapes and adventures. The three children on the trip feel the enchantment of this family adventure, and realize they will always be great friends.

Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Super Powers
(Silje Salomonsen and Arild Østin Ommundsen, Norway, live-action, 2020, 78 min, in Norwegian with English subtitles)
Vega (9) and her wild sister Billie (5) are going on an overnight outdoor hike in the Norwegian woods. The anticipated trip is full of sweet adventures and happy moments until Dad falls into a mountain crack and twists his ankle. Unable to move he asks Vega and Billie to get help. They bravely face their fears, discover their superpowers and find strength in the sisterhood.
Watch the trailer:

Louisa: An Amazing Adventure – North American premiere
(Ken Blakely, United Kingdom, animation, 2020, 60 min, in English)
In January 1899, an astonishing lifeboat rescue took place during the worst storm at sea in memory. This film, in gorgeous 3D animation, tells the story of that little lifeboat, its captain and his small daughter, who watches as the long and dangerous mission is completed. Based on a true story!
Watch the trailer:

Triple Trouble
(Marta Karwowska, Poland, live-action, 2020, 87 min, in Polish with English subtitles)
West Coast premiere
In Poznań, a long-lost Monet painting is officially presented in the city’s museum. But shortly after the exhibition is opened, the painting is destroyed. But wait! Inspection reveals that the painting was a copy, while the original had been stolen the night before. Teenagers Olek and Julka, assisted by Fela, must track down the thief. Can they solve the whodunit and find the thief who stole the precious work of art? And just as importantly, can they solve some typical teenager drama along the way?
Watch the trailer:

Film still from Coyote and Big Buff by Ilena Yeru Pegan (United States) in the Promise to the Planet environmental short film program.

16 amazing programs of short animated and live-action films feature bold thematic content that celebrates the ideals of friendship, empathy, and understanding, or foster dialogue around current issues, such as:

The environment ( “Promise to the Planet”);

LGBTQ and other stories of identity (“Journeys, Genders and Identity”);

Documentaries showing the lives of youth around the world (“Reel Life Stories”);

Shorts celebrating the creativity of youth during the pandemic (“Youth Shine”).

Programs for our youngest festival audiences members, including gentle and often humorous animation in such programs (“Fluffy, Furry and Fabulous,” “Kaleidoscope,” “Wonderful World”)

A block of entirely youth-made films (“Radolescents”), with most made in 2020.

Film still from Piccolino, An Adventure in the City by Giovanni Maccelli (Spain) in the Aventuras Asombrosas Spanish Language short film program.


CFFS continues to demonstrate an increased commitment to multilingual programming, thus increasing access through language. Native speakers and language learners of all levels can enjoy separate programs of shorts in Spanish (“Aventuras Asombrosas”), German (“Wilde Welte”), and French (“Petits Trésors”).

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