The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY, pronounced "nifty") was started by the non-profit arts organization The Talented Youth in 2007 and is currently the world's largest youth film festival for filmmakers ages 22 and younger. NFFTY will be held in Seattle from April 25 to 28, primarily at the SIFF Uptown theater in lower Queen Anne.
The festival has quite a story: It was co-founded by Jesse Harris, Jocelyn R.C., and Kyle Seago in response to Harris' success writing and directing his first film Living Life when he was 17. Jocelyn R.C. was interested in working with Harris and Seago to form a socially responsible youth arts organization to help similarly motivated young filmmakers achieve their dreams.
ParentMap chatted with Jesse Harris about the young people participating in NFFTY this year and his recommendations both for young filmmakers and audiences interested in attending the festival. NFFTY features the work of filmmakers ages 22 and younger.
Who is the youngest filmmaker you've screened at the festival?
To date the youngest filmmaker has been 7-year-old Emily Salva with a great animation in 2009. But ever since then, we've had several filmmakers every year who are between 7 and 10 years old, so more and more participation by very young kids every year. This year the youngest filmmaker is Kyle Jensen. His film Growth Ray plays in the "Bring The Kids" all-ages showcase.
What advice would you give to young people just getting into filmmaking?
If they decide they want to truly pursue filmmaking as a career, then hard work, never giving up, and always trying to improve yourself and meet new people is key. Talent and networking is what will allow you to make it. If you're willing to work hard for it, then you can make your dreams come true.
What programs would you recommend for a younger audience interested in film?
There are several programs we would recommend for younger audiences:
Bring The Kids
Saturday, April 27, 1:30 p.m. SIFF Uptown, Seattle
All-ages cinema for kids produced by filmmakers their own age
Sunday, April 28, 2 p.m. SIFF Uptown, Seattle
A series of films about being kind, staying positive, and inspirational stories designed to restore your faith in humanity.
Animate Your World
Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m. SIFF Uptown, Seattle
Short films experimenting with a wide variety of animation techniques from young people all over the world.
If you go ...
Tickets: Tickets and more information nffty.org. A three-day festival pass costs $50–$55; single day pass $20–$22.
Age recommendation: Be aware that most of the programs, aside from those mentioned here, feature films with subject matter that may not be suitable for all ages.
About the author: John Kubalak is a writer, teacher, volunteer coordinator, raconteur, and scalawag. He does not publish science fiction under the pseudonym Jonathan Black but he does publish a monograph on fatherhood, The Eclectic Dad. He has a son, a daughter, a beautiful wife (and a little dog too!) who are adorable, maddening, zany, and brilliant all at the same time.