National Film Festival for Talented Youth spotlights female directors

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The audience absorbed in a NFFTY screening

The largest youth film festival in the world is happening this week in Seattle. The 2015 National Film Festival for Talented Youth, which opens on Thursday, April 23rd and runs through Sunday, April 26, features 248 films from an international roster of directors, age 11 to 24.  And this year, for the first time, female filmmakers are in the spotlight: 48 percent of the festival's films are the work of women directors.

The 2015 lineup includes poignant tales of goldfish and a zany zombie musical. A lot of personal experience goes into the creation of the films, says festival Program Manager Todd Kaumans, who describes NFFTY as a “filmmaker’s festival.”

Indeed, the NFFTY audience is mostly the filmmakers themselves, who get to network with this year's special guests, including James Foley, director of a dozen House of Cards episodes, and Warren Etheredge, host of Reel NW and The High Bar. Connections forged at NFFTY can have surprising results. Kaumans notes that NFFTY attendees often “come back having made a film with someone they met the year before.”

Kaumans' own festival entries (in 2010 and 2011) led to a producing gig for PBS. “Young filmmakers are always overlooked by regular film festivals," he says. "NFFTY is all about proving they have just as much talent and potential.”

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Filmmakers on the NFFTY 2013 red carpet. Credit: a href=

The female focus of this year's festival gives aspiring women directors a rare chance to shine. The fact that nearly half of this year's films have women directors places NFFTY well above last year's industry standard: seven percent of the top 250 films were directed by women. To top it off, the closing night program is, entitled “Femme Finale,” showcases the festival's best female filmmakers in a special screening.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Marissa Brent-Tookey

Marissa Brent-Tookey

Marissa Brent-Tookey is an editorial intern at Crosscut. She holds a B.A. in French from Seattle University and now studies film production at Shoreline Community College. In addition to crewing a dozen or so local film projects, Marissa recently produced a short that screened at Seattle International Film Festival. This is her first editorial position. Contact her at