Film still depicting a giant snake-like creature rearing its head at a silhouetted figure.

Step Into the World of Fantasy at the 18th Annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle

by Victor Simoes

The Northwest Film Forum kicked off their 18th Annual Children’s Film Festival Seattle (CFFS) on Feb. 3. The weeklong festival dedicated to celebrating productions made for youth and family will include feature and short films and additional workshop activities with both in-person and online options. 

Debuting in 2005, CFFS quickly expanded to become the largest film festival dedicated to children on the west coast. This year’s theme — fantasy and fairytale — invites children and families to exercise their imaginations and step into completely new worlds, carefully curated by the event organizers.

“The theme is sort of sprinkled throughout the whole festival. So there’s films, short films, feature films, some of our workshops are sort of around that theme,” said Kendra Ann Sherrill, festival director. “I should mention that even if you aren’t a fantasy fan, there’s still so much programming that has nothing to do with the theme that everyone can enjoy.”

Some highlights include the opening night screening of Missing the Link. Situated in the PNW, the movie tells the story of Sir Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman), who considers himself the best investigator of myths and monsters in the world. The problem is that none of his colleagues take him seriously. His last chance to earn their respect is to prove the existence of a primitive ancestor of the man known as the Missing Link. Throughout this journey, Frost learns valuable lessons about friendship, acceptance, and chosen family. The opening night will also feature director Chris Butler hosting a Q&A section after the film.

The program also includes an LGBTQIA+ collection of shorts — The Colors of Community — copresented with Three Dollar Bill Cinema. The Dream Black series, copresented with Langston Seattle and Hopeful Harmonies, is a musical-themed block of productions dedicated to all ages.

NWFF Cinema Programmer Cris Vázquez de Mercado will present a workshop on artificial cake-craft with materials like styrofoam and acrylic paint mixes. (Photo courtesy of the Northwest Film Forum.)

This is the festival’s second year offering a hybrid model, which according to organizers, makes the festival much more accessible, allowing participants to stream movies from anywhere in the world.

CFFS is offering all-ages workshops on a sliding scale, pay-what-you-can basis, and include a prop-making class where participants will craft their own prop cake; an experimental workshop with cameraless film; two shadow puppet classes and Kids Quest, a partnership with Marvelous Adventures; and a fantasy Kids Camp based in Bellingham that will offer an interactive puzzle-making quest for kids and their families.

The festival’s closing night will feature a screening of the The Magic Flute. Based on Mozart’s opera of the same name, the production is an epic musical fantasy film that tells the story of 17-year-old Tim Walker, who is sent to the Austrian Alps to attend Mozart’s renowned boarding school where he discovers a centuries-forgotten passage into the fantastical world of Mozart’s most famous opera.

“I love every single one of these films, and I’m a grown woman. For each film, we have an age recommendation of the minimum age that you know could enjoy, and then it’s really just like that and above,” said Sherrill. “So it’s like eight plus because it’s really Kids, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, anyone will really, really enjoy the films.”

Children’s Film Festival Seattle runs Feb. 3–12 in person at the Northwest Film Forum with streaming options from anywhere in the world. For more information on the films, ticket sales, screening times, and days, please visit the CFFS webpage.

Children’s Film Festival artwork by Jessixa Bagley.

Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.

📸 Featured Image: Inspired by Mozart’s classic composition, “The Magic Flute” (2022) explores music and fantasy in an adventure for all ages. (From “The Magic Flute,” courtesy of the Northwest Film Forum)

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