What is the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival


Application Fees

Feature 60+ min.: Early Deadline: $50; Regular: $60; Late: $65; Extended: $70
Shorts 59 min. or less: Early Deadline: $40; Regular: $50; Late: $55; Extended: $60
Student* Film 12+ min. Early Deadline: $40; Regular: $50; Late: $55; Extended: $60
Student Film 12- min.: Early Deadline: $25; Regular: $30; Late: $35; Extended: $40
Documentary & Environmental Film: Early Deadline: $25; Regular: $30; Late: $35; Extended: $40
Faith Based Feature: 60+ min. Early Deadline: $50; Regular: $60; Late: $65; Extended: $70


Our [email protected] program was a rousing success last week and your KIDS FIRST! films played an invaluable part in that achievement!! We screened a total of eight shorts during the course of the program. Each and every one was well received by our fifth grade audiences. Light Sight, Free Advice, New Boy, Daisy's Oracle, The Probability Of Love, The Talking Goldfish, Two Balloons and Falling Up were all favorably rated by our young film critics. The professional educators who attended were very pleased with the quality and variety of this collection.

Approximately 1000 students attended this year's events - more than we have ever hosted during the ten-year history of [email protected]! Our school district liaisons are delighted by the fact that they can always count on KIDS FIRST! Films to provide a selection of films that is not only age-appropriate and entertaining, but is also a source of inspiration and useful life lessons.

Please pass along my enthusiastic thanks to all of your filmmakers and let them know that we will be announcing our Call For Entries in March to select films for BIFF 2019. We'd love for them to consider submitting their latest works through either FilmFreeway or Withoutabox. Of course, they can submit through KIDS FIRST! Film Festival on FilmFreeway.  

I look forward to continuing our relationship with your company and to growing with you in our collective efforts to bring the power of film to our youngsters! Thank you SO much!!

Sincerely, Greg Gerard
Director of Programming
Beloit International Film Festival

Wanted you to know what a great time I had with Ann and co. in Hawaii this weekend. She does a fantastic job with her festival. She got me on the NPR station there and did a ton of ads both online and in newspapers prior to the screening. We had over 300 in attendance (more than a full house) and the movie looked and sounded great on a big screen. The kids were terrific and the process, including raffling prizes, Q&A and an autograph session at the end of the show, was smooth and efficient. The whole thing had a very positive family vibe and it was really nice to be a part of it. Thanks again for connecting us
to Ann and her team!
Dan Chuba,
Boxcar Children
KIDS FIRST! Film Festival
University of Hawaii/Manoa

Every year, without fail, KIDS FIRST! delivers the best in children's programming for the USA Film Festival's KidFilm. This year was no exception with a live performance by Mallory Lewis and Lamb Chop to a sneak preview of the Mr. Men Show and capped off by an appearance of Dallas's own beloved BARNEY!  All to record-breaking crowds. What more could you want in a partner? Ann Alexander, Managing Director, USA Film Festival

“I’m always very impressed with people who are able to create something new and meaningful—that is not an easy thing to do.  Ranny Levy and her team have created a fantastic and forward-thinking organization for people who are trying to create positive media for our kids.  I applaud and fully support their efforts.  Even though we are a relatively small independent production company, KIDS FIRST! has been very supportive and helpful to us.  We look forward to working with them over the years ahead.” Marc Mangum, filmmaker


The KIDS FIRST! Film Festival showcases new and classic children's films, TV shows and DVDs from studios, independent producers and youth filmmakers. It partners with more than 50 venues who showcase films selected by KIDS FIRST! in their youth and family section. KIDS FIRST! adds new titles multiple times throughout the year, accepting approximately 200 films annually. In 2016, there are special categories for submission of Environmental films, Spanish language films (dubbed or sub-titled), Faith-based films (features and episodics) as well as the usual documentaries, features, shorts and student films.

To be accepted into the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, your film/DVD/TV show must meet the KIDS FIRST! criteria and be suitable for children between the ages of 2 to 18. The production quality must be acceptable for the large screen and the entertainment value suitable for a festival audience. Programs lacking in these last two qualities may be better suited for a KIDS FIRST! endorsement particularly those with educational values that work best in a face-to-face learning environment. Independent and student producers need to clear all copyrighted music or film clips for film festival play. Do not submit films without clearances!

Screenplays are accepted through the KIDS FIRST! endorsement program which is open year round, without deadlines. Go here to submit.

To submit to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festial, use FilmFreeway.com


Upon acceptance, short films 60 minutes or less will be included in our password protected KIDS FIRST! Film Festival programmers site on vimeo. From this site, our venue programmers will preview your film and, once they select it for their festival will download for their festival play. Your application pre-approves these terms. For films 60 minutes or longer, we require an online trailer to add to our programmer's site. When selected, we will contact you for either a hard copy of a high rez screener sent to the festival itself.

Upon acceptance, your film will be offered to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Venue Partners for a period of 2 years. If necessary, you may suspend screenings after the first 6 months from acceptance date with 30 days written notification.

Once you submit a title to the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, you may not withdraw it. Be sure you have no conflicts prior to submitting.

Acceptance notification

Acceptance notification will be emailed and mailed by USPS within 30 days after the final submission deadline. Late submissions and non-acceptances will be notified later. You will receive an acceptance agreement which specifies your deliverables and deadlines. Upon acceptance, you may use the "Official Selection KIDS FIRST! Film Festival" seal in all your publicity or box art. Only the film that is accepted may use this. If it is part of a series, others in the series may not use it unless they too have been accepted into the festival.

Promotional Materials

Upon acceptance, you will be asked to send 72 dpi poster art or production stills. Full instructions will be sent with your acceptance letter.

Festival Bookings

Your title will be offered to all KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Venue Partners. We do our best to get your film as many bookings as possible.

Once Accepted

Your film, DVD, TV Show:

  • Receives an "Official Selection KIDS FIRST! Film Festival" designation which may be used in any of your publicity materials.
  • Is included in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival Venue Partner website.
  • Is assigned a detail page on the KIDS FIRST! web site which will feature artwork, reviews and trailer from the film. The site receives 1 million hits monthly.

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival is a project of the 24-year-old national, nonprofit, Coalition for Quality Children's Media

Tips About Copyright Clearances

Independent and student producers need to clear the  copyrighted music for film festivals or not use copyrighted music at all. The music business regards the use of music at film festivals as a violation of copyright unless permission has been granted. They have provided a low fee of $250 to $750 for one year film festival rights.

This also applies to film clips. To actually clear a film clip, you
need to clear the studio, every actor in the clip, music if there is any and Writers and Directors Guilds.  The studios consider the use of a clip without clearance as a violation of copyright. And getting clearance is a lengthy, tricky and expensive task.

Young filmmakers need to understand it is not their right to use
anything they want in their films. When they do, it gives them a great and unfair advantage over films and filmmakers who have not used copyrighted materials because they can't pay for them and
have chosen to not use them without permission.

This information was generously provided by Barbara Zimmerman, President, BZ/Rights & Permissions, Inc. You may contact her at:
2350 Broadway, Suite 224
New York, NY 10024
phone: 212-924-3000
fax: 212-924-2525

Helpful Links

Daily Variety:

Hollywood Reporter:

Writing Treatments:

Great American Pitchfest:

Publishers Weekly:

Ed Silver Agency


"I just wanted say how extremely helpful I found the jurors' comments on my screenplay "Is It Me?" While generally very positive, which was gratifying, the comments included specific suggestions to improve the screenplay overall as well as make it more appealing to the most appropriate age group, 8-12. I agree with all of the suggestions and they will certainly help me make this screenplay the very best I can.

Whatever happens in October, I am very happy I submitted my screenplay to KIDS FIRST! and will continue to enjoy visiting your website with frequency. Thank you." Michael Fishman

"We are so excited to have been nominated for our short film 'Mbiya and His Cow' produced by Mindpool Productions. The children had so much fun with being part of the production of this film. We are really holding thumbs that it does well in the festival. Oh how I wish that I could be there as part of the award ceremony but being so far away from the States it is a real challenge for us. Be that as it may, we consider this a major achievement not just for the children of South Africa but also the children of the African continent. Please keep me posted on the progress and looking forward to the verdict in mid October." Jacqui Hlongwane-Papo, Executive Producer, Mbiya and His Cow

"It's easy to make the typical mindless junk that passes for entertainment these days - it is so much harder to make things that teach, entertain and have a message that sticks with you, that you want to savor and recall over and over, just like the special books that we'd read over and over again when we were all kids ourselves. That's my mission and I know it's yours at KIDS FIRST! too Thanks so much for letting me be a part of this!" Kelly Kennedy, Producer/Director, The Baseball Card Shop

Home office address:

Coalition for Quality Children's Media
112 W. San Francisco St., Suite 305A
Santa Fe, NM 87501



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