Filmmaker Celia Jensen poses with her friends on the Opening Night red carpet at the Seattle Cinerama during NFFTY 2014. Photo by Mark Malijan
By Todd Kaumans Program Manager, NFFTY
This April, NFFTY (pronounced ‘nifty’, standing for the National Film Festival for Talented Youth) turns 10 years old! In addition to inspiring us to present the best festival yet, the anniversary also gives us a chance to look back at the many highlights of the past decade.
NFFTY was founded by Seattle native Jesse Harris, who, after producing and distributing his feature film Living Life as a college student, realized there was no festival specializing in presenting the work of young people. He teamed up with Jocelyn R.C. and Kyle Seago, and in 2007 the first ever NFFTY took place as a one-night event, showing work from around the country.
NFFTY 2008 filmmakers pose together for a group photo in front of the press wall. Photo by Mong Kon Mo
By 2008 the festival was a three-day affair, with a full program of screenings, panels and two concerts. In 2009 we began accepting international submissions, making the festival a truly worldwide event. By 2010 the now four-day festival included 190 films representing 33 states and 16 countries, and in 2011 NFFTY was officially the world’s largest film festival for emerging filmmakers.
Over the years we’ve featured the work of some truly tremendous talents, and we couldn’t be more proud of our alumni. Former NFFTY filmmakers are now working for prestigious companies such as The Weinstein Company, Pixar, and Trigger Street Productions, including Kevin Klauber who edited the Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom.
A representative from AJA Video Systems instructs filmmakers during the NFFTY 2015 Digital Expo at McCaw Hall. Photo by Octavian Matei
Though Jesse has since moved on to pursue his own film projects, the festival now boasts award-winning producer and nonprofit executive Stefanie Malone as the manager of the organization. Under her leadership, in 2014 NFFTY created our Young Women in Film initiative, a year-round effort to support young female filmmakers around the world. NFFTY also formally launched an in-house production company known as NFFTY Creative with the mission of connecting sponsors and brands with the festival’s most promising alumni to work on original branded content projects. The first major project, “A Supporting Role,” has earned multiple accolades including ADDY Awards and a Telly Award.
Hollywood producer Dana Brunetti (House of Cards, The Social Network, Fifty Shades of Grey) speaks on the keynote panel during NFFTY 2011. Photo by Bobby Bonsey
And we haven’t stopped growing! Last year the festival had a record-breaking 248 films representing 30 states and 25 countries. The festival continued to support female filmmakers with a closing night screening called “Femme Finale.” Forty-eight percent of the films screened at the festival were directed by young women, a major accomplishment compared to Hollywood where women direct less than nine percent of films.
NFFTY now looks toward its 10th anniversary, happening April 28 – May 1. Over 1,000 emerging filmmakers from around the globe submitted their work for consideration in this major milestone of the festival’s history. The festival will also launch our first ever
Screenwriting Competition to be operated as both a component of the annual event and also in the off-season.
Visit our website, www.nffty.org, for more information about this year’s event, and to get your tickets!