In 2021, the Seattle International Film Festival will be a Virtual Festival experience. Films will be screened through the SIFF Virtual platform, and available across the country to avid film lovers. Running April 8–18, 2021, the Virtual Festival will present the best in international and independent films from around the globe.
Historically, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest film festival in the United States, presenting more than 400 features, documentaries, and short films to an audience of over 138,000 each year. SIFF is consistently ranked as one of the top festivals in North America, and is an Academy Award-qualifying festival for short films.
SIFF started out as an event aimed squarely at Seattle filmgoers, renowned for their strong support for independent cinema and their sophisticated, maverick tastes. Through the years, Seattle audiences have proven themselves to be remarkably astute judges of a film's theatrical strength in the American marketplace. This, in turn, has made SIFF a great testing ground for new films. Our emphasis on keeping the Festival an event aimed first and foremost at filmgoers, provides the films themselves with the kind of genuine audience response that has attracted the participation of so many filmmakers and film distributors.
SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world. It is through the art of cinema that we foster a community that is more informed, aware, and alive.
Golden Space Needle Awards
Seattle International Film Festival audiences cast their votes in the categories of Best Film, Documentary Feature, Director, Actor, Actress, and Short Film. Among past winners of this expression of SIFF filmgoers esteem are films and talents, who went on to win Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, as well as a large number of critical and theatrical hits.
In addition, we sponsor nine internationally juried awards in the below categories:
The SIFF Official Competition celebrates some of the year’s most accomplished films, ranging from first-time directors to established masters. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
New Directors Competition*
The New Directors Competition features a selection of directors who are clearly emerging as major talents. SIFF programmers choose films from around the world, a debut or second feature by the selected director, each chosen on the basis of its original conception, striking style and overall excellence. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
New American Cinema Competition*
The New American Cinema Competition features a selection of US films which are clearly emerging as showing considerable vision, a unique voice, and promising future. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Ibero-American Cinema Competition*
The Ibero-American Cinema Competition features a selection of films from Ibero-America who are firmly expressing issues, styles, and talent from the area. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Documentary Film Competition*
A selection of exceptional non-fiction films will be judged by an international panel of jurors who will choose the documentary they feel best illuminates and captures the human spirit, pursues the search for truth, and feeds our insatiable hunger to learn. The films must also be without US distribution at the time of selection. A cash prize of $1,500 will be awarded to the winner of this competition.
Short Film Competitions
Approximately 100 shorts are selected to play before features or in one of our SIFF ShortsFest programs. This is a popular and exciting section of SIFF that has launched the careers of many writers and directors. All shorts selected for the Festival are eligible for this prize. Three cash prizes of $500 each will be awarded in the categories of Live Action, Animation, and Documentary. SIFF is an Academy Award® qualifier in all three short film categories.
FutureWave Shorts Competition
A selection of films by youth 18 years or younger will be judged by a panel of filmmakers who will award their Wavemaker Award for Best FutureWave Short to a film for its technical mastery and storytelling excellence.
FutureWave Features Competition
A selection of films curated for young adults will be judged by youth aged 13-18.
Films4Families Features Competition
A selection of films curated for family audiences will be judged by youth aged 8-12.
Best Narrative Short Film
Best Animation Short Film