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Pass the Popcorn: The 2018 Children's Film Festival

Hayao Miyazaki


The time of year has come for Seattle's annual Children's Film Festival. This two-week family-friendly celebration, running January 25-February 10, is all about the best and brightest in international cinema for kids ages 2-14. With 168 films from 54 nations, in 22 languages, there is something for everyone. The festival has shorts, features, animation, live action, documentaries, workshops and more. 

This year's theme is Dream the Future. Says Festival director Elizabeth Shepherd, "We want children to come to the festival not only to be entertained by funny and fantastic films, but also to discover common ground, to build empathy and envision their places in the wider world."

All of this and more has been crafted with care for the next generation of movie lovers. 

Most films will be shown at the Northwest Film Forum, in one of their two intimate cinemas, seating 120 and 46 people, respectively, so purchasing tickets in advance is definitely a good idea! 

Admission to most festival programs is $7 for Film Forum members, $9 for children under 12 and seniors, and $12 general admission. There is also special pricing for Opening Night and the Pancake Breakfast. Festival passes are also available. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 1.800.838.3006, online at childrensfilmfestivalseattle.org or in-person at the Film Forum box office, which opens 30 minutes before the first daily show time.


Opening Night

Sponsored by the Boeing Company, opening night begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 25, at the Egyptian Theatre on Capitol Hill. Kicking off the festival will be a presentation of Hayao Miyazaki's classic 1986 film, "Castle in the Sky." This animated adventure is about a young girl with a magical and mysterious crystal pendant. The evening will begin with a costume contest for audience members who can dress up as their favorite characters from Miyazaki's films.



Workshops for kids will happen on January 27 and 28 in topics like 360 filmmaking and mobile filmmaking. Older teenagers can also attend a talk and software demonstration on January 27, introducing them to the digital animation program at Arts University Bournemouth, in the UK.



Throughout the festival, there will be free interactive, drop-in activities in the Northwest Film Forum's lobby. The lobby will be transformed into a world where kids can "dream the future" with displays that are part submarine (complete with a VR periscope!), part film set, and part special effects classroom. Volunteers will be present during selected time slots to guide kids through the activities and answer questions. For more information about educational activities, check out the classes section of the Film Forum's website.


Our Picks

We've barely scratched the surface with these few suggestions. Check out all the features and shorts


Purple Dreams

This inspirational documentary chronicles a triumphant high school musical production that propels its cast and crew into a new world of opportunity and accomplishment. Shadowing six at-risk high school students on an emotionally powerful, three-year journey of transformation in a racially-biased city, the film shows these youth finding the means to overcome challenges including homelessness, gang-related violence and single-parent households.


Not Without Us

Another powerful documentary showing what life is really like for 16 different children in 14 countries, on 5 different continents. 


The Legend of Timm Thaler

This German film is about Timm Thaler—he's poor, but he laughs a lot, and often. His laughter is so charming and contagious that a diabolical Baron wants, at all costs, to have it for himself. And so the world's richest man makes the boy a dubious offer: if Timm agrees to sell him his laugh, he'll win every bet he ever makes in the future. 


The Penguin

The Seattle premiere of a cartoon short about a penguin who thinks his home is too icy, so he takes off for the tropics.


The Pocket Man

A little man lives in an old suitcase, until one day he finds a better spot — inside the pocket of a new friend! This short is also having it's Seattle premiere.

Nino & Felix

This Italian short shows that with a lot of imagination, and a few snowballs, two very different boys can find a way to become the best of friends. 


We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Based on the classic children’s book, this gorgeously hand-drawn film follows the adventures of siblings and their pet dog as they go on an all-day, outdoor adventure in search of bears. 


As is usually the case at the Seattle Children's Film Festival, kids will also be decision-makers and VIPS at the festival—this year’s Children’s Jury, made up of 25 Seattle-area youth ages 9 to 15, will be led once again by a group of several teenaged jury graduates. And every audience member will also have an opportunity to vote for the festival’s coveted audience awards given in several categories.


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