Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978
More Articles Browse All Articles >>

You are in:  Family Adventures | Children's Film Festivals

Children's Film Festivals

Collected By Patricia Schweers

Children’s Film Festivals are springing up around the country. If you haven’t taken advantage of what the festivals have to offer, consider this: festival organizers have done the selecting (and viewing of rejects); seeing films on a big screen enhances the viewing experience and, there is a marvelous benefit of seeing a film at a festival for kids — being there with other kids and parents.

Programmers group films in age-appropriate categories — and viewing times and they often present films with follow-up discussion, filmmaker panels, or activities.

Here is a sampling of children’s and family film festivals playing around the country. Festivals are listed in order by the months in which they are held, but please check festival websites for specific event dates.

Recurring film festivals for families:

National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)

The Children's Film Program offers innovative film programming, enhances enjoyment of the Gallery's collections and exhibitions, and fosters an understanding of film as an art form. The program aims to represent a broad range of recently produced foreign and domestic films, including a variety of animation styles and live-action, and classics.

Redcat International Children's Film FestivalRedcat International Children’s Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA)
Dates Vary

The festival brings together amazing animation, stupendous shorts and fabulous fables for film lovers of all ages. Join us in our state-of-the-art theater for more than 70 films from 16 countries in an adventurous journey around the globe.

New York International Children’s Film Festival (New York, NY)
Late February - Early March

NYICFF was founded in 1997 to promote intelligent, passionate, provocative cinematic works for ages 3-18 and to help define a more compelling film for kids. Since its launch, the event has grown to become the largest festival for children and teens in North America, with a paid audience of over 20,000 attending the most recent event. Since 2000, all screenings have sold out in advance.

Each year NYICFF presents a highly selective slate of the best animation, live action, documentary and experimental film from around the world.  The next annual, city-wide festival will take place March 2008.  The three week festival will present 100 new films in competition plus gala premieres, retrospectives, filmmaker Q&As. workshops, receptions, and the NYICFF Awards Ceremony.  NYICFF also presents screenings and premieres throughout the year at the IFC Center and other locations.

Danville International Children’s Film Festival (Danville, CA)

The Danville International Children's Film Festival is a unique opportunity to view over 75 films made for children and by children. Last year's event brought over 4,500 film enthusiasts to enjoy screenings of independent films in three locations, special events, autograph sessions, seminars for filmmakers and actors, and an awards ceremony. The Danville International Children's Film Festival is the only one of its kind in the Western United States and is presented by the California Independent Film Festival Association and the Town of Danville. The website contains all of the information you need to plan your weekend.

Brooklyn KidsfilmfestBrooklyn Kidsfilmfest (Brooklyn, NY)
Early June

With Kidsfilmfest, Brooklyn International Film Festival intends to expand its demographic outreach and further its commitment to bring to Brooklyn the best the world has to offer. BiFF is staged at the Brooklyn Children's Museum in early June. The program is tailored for children of all ages (films will be rated "G"). It consists of numerous short animation, live-action and documentary films. A variety of children's activities are also offered throughout the Children's Museum.

San Diego International Children’s Film Festival (San Diego, CA)

The festival will showcase full-length and short films from around the world, made for children ages 1-17 and clustered for different age groups, including live-action, animation and documentaries. Also features filmmaking and animation workshops for kids, special guests, parties and filmmaker appearances.

Los Angeles International Children’s Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA)

The Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival is held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The festival screens more than 100 films - including 19 world premieres - from 30 countries during two weekends. The movie menu includes full-length features, documentaries, live-action shorts and animated shorts. Also includes animation workshops for all ages, and numerous special guests.

Chicago International Children's Film FestivalChicago International Children's Film Festival (Chicago, IL)
End of October

The CICFF is North America's largest and most celebrated film festival devoted to films for and by kids, and it's the only Academy®-qualifying children's film festival in the world! The festival features over 220 of the best films and videos for kids from 40 countries. The Festival welcomes more than 25,000 Chicago area children, adults, and educators to the screenings, and more than 140 filmmakers, media professionals & celebrities attend the Festival to lead interactive workshops with kids.

The CICFF advocates positive programming for kids and families: creative, fun, and culturally diverse films that not only tell stories about children and teens but also present things from kids' point of view.


Festivals of Films Made by Youth:

Urban Visionaries Youth Film Festival (New York, NY)

Urban Visionaries Youth Film Festival is New York’s only youth film festival produced, promoted, and presented by youth. The festival provides youth with a forum to raise and discuss social, economic, cultural, and political issues through the exhibition of youth-produced media. Through Urban Visionaries, youth challenges their peers to become active participants in their schools, their communities, and in the media.

Newport Beach Youth Film ShowcaseNewport Beach Youth Film Showcase (Newport Beach, CA)

The Youth Film Showcase presented by Volcom will showcase a unique selection of short films from around the world featuring a wide array of genres, including comedy, drama, suspense, romance, documentary, animation, science fiction, action sports and experimental. The Festival is thrilled to celebrate the artistic works and visions of young people from around the world. The Festival seeks to create a forum for young filmmakers and encourage freedom of expression through cinema. Screenings will take place at the historic Regency Lido Theater and Edwards Island Cinema in Newport Beach.

Westport Youth Film Fest (Westport, CT)

Throughout the day festival goers can enjoy topical panel discussions with film industry professionals, lectures from authors who have turned their writing into film, roundtables with high school age filmmakers, over twenty different bands and musical acts and, of course, almost ninety of the best youth produced films in the world.

Miami Children’s Museum Film Festival (Miami, FL)

The Miami Children's Museum is the longest running film festival for South Florida’s youth. The year round program consists of 3 parts and is free to students from elementary school through high school. Kicking off in October each year with a 12 session Film School taught in conjunction with the Florida Film Institute, then followed by the Annual Film Festival open to all school aged students, and wrapping up in the summer with free screenings of the award winning films throughout the community.

Best Fest AmericaBest Fest America (San Diego, CA)

In 1986, the non-profit Visual Arts Foundation was formed to bring literary quality visual arts programming to San Diego. Since then, our direction has focused solely on supporting the next generation of filmmakers - through BestFest America where "Through their teachers/instructors, we mentor, train and inspire thousands of creative young filmmakers, providing a forum for their work to be seen and help them establish themselves in their storytelling craft."


Director in the Classroom
offers a great deal of information about student film making and competitions, film festivals and programs for young filmmakers.


Youth Film Festivals Around the World

If your family is embarking on international travels, check the local tourist bureaus and universities for children’s film festivals in the following countries:

    • Argentina (late October)
    • Austria (July)
    • Australia (late July, September & October)
    • Bangladesh (January)
    • Belgium (late February)
    • Canada (April, May, June & November)
    • Denmark (September & August)
    • Finland (August & November)
    • France (late March & June)
    • Germany (February, May, September & November)
    • Greece (December)
    • India (November)
    • Israel (September)
    • Italy (July)
    • Japan (August)
    • Kenya (August)
    • Latvia (late March)
    • Netherlands (October)
    • Norway (April)
    • Sweden (March)
    • Switzerland (November)
    • U.K. (March, May July & November)
About the Author
Patricia Schweers has worked as personal assistant to film director Bruce Beresford for most of the past twelve years. “Double Jeopardy,” “Paradise Road, “And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself” are the most widely seen of her seven Beresford films. Trish considers herself pretty lucky to have also seen film festivals in five countries as a perk of this work.

Share This
Find Family-Friendly Events in Your Area:


Sign Up
Our news & features delivered to your inbox.