History

The Talented Youth (the nonprofit that is NFFTY) has grown in just a few years from an idea of 3 teenagers to an organization that reaches an ever-growing number of young artists and potential audiences in the millions through our Seattle-based programs and distribution partnerships.

2007 /// NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth) and its non-profit parent organization, The Talented Youth, were founded by Jesse Harris, Jocelyn R.C., and Kyle Seago. Harris wrote and directed the feature film “Living Life” when he was 17, obtaining distribution for the film shortly after his graduation from high school. His success resulted in young filmmakers around the globe seeking his advice, including R.C., who expressed interest in helping to form a socially-responsible youth arts organization.  Harris and R.C. teamed up with Seago, establishing the non-profit and holding a one-night “Kick Off” festival April 26, 2007.

2008 /// NFFTY was expanded to a three-day festival. NFFTY Earth, a campaign to promote the power of film to bring positive changes to the environment, support social justice, and encourage peace and partnership with other countries, was added to festival programming. Year-round young artist and community education activities were added through the program NFFTY 365.  Over 1,800 people attended NFFTY 2008, which featured 73 films selected from 176 entries from 27 states.

2009 /// NFFTY continued its growth, increasing its screenings from 73 to 113, including an international category for the first time.  Over 4,000 attended NFFTY 2009, which featured 113 films from 427 entries.  NFFTY Earth values were implemented with NFFTY 2009 produced as a carbon-neutral event. A special edition NFFTY Earth Benefit CD was released, featuring 14 songs from contemporary young artists.

2010 /// NFFTY was increased to being a four-day film festival, featuring 190 films from 33 states and 16 countries, and with over 6,000 in attendance. A 48-hour film contest and industry speed networking were added as events.

2011 /// NFFTY 2011 featured 225 films chosen out of over 600 submissions over 4 days, with over 200 filmmakers from 40 states and 20 countries, 2 filmmaking panels, including keynote speaker Dana Brunetti (Social Network, House of Cards). Now the largest youth film festival in the world Opening Night was at Cinerama with a gala at the Space Needle.  Attendance was 8,500.

2012 /// NFFTY 2012 featured 222 films, 2 galas, networking opportunities, and the the inaugural Future of Film Expo presented by NFFTY and the Next Fifty which featured 8 panels, 14 workshops, and over 30 exhibitors.  Over 200 filmmakers from 30 states and 20 countries and 10,000 attendees participated in the 4 day event.

2013 /// NFFTY 2013 received over 600 submissions, screening 215 films from over 30 countries. NFFTY Creative was established, functioning as a production company, providing branded entertainment and commercials directed by our in-house creative leaders and NFFTY Alumni Filmmakers. Filmmakers have been engaged to produce creative works for renowned companies like Expedia and vitaminwater®. Stefanie Malone joins the NFFTY team in the fall as the Executive Director.

2014 /// NFFTY 2014 received a record breaking 800 submissions all over the world. 214 films that represented 30 U.S. states and 15 countries were showcased at the festival which was attended by more than 12,000. A new initiative was launched called Young Women in Film to support young female filmmakers through programming, scholarship and increased mentorship opportunities, including an inaugural award for Best Emerging Female Filmmaker awarded to Morgana McKenzie. In 2014, over 40% of the films screened at NFFTY were directed by young women. NFFTY’s first original documentary A Supporting Role, directed by NFFTY alumni, was screened at the conclusion of the annual 4 day event, going on to win a Gold ADDY Award and Telly. The NFFTY team created commercial for Volvo, directed by Jesse Harris, which went on for a national television broadcast run. NFFTY takes home "One of the 50 Best Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" by MovieMaker Magazine. TeenTix awarded NFFTY as Best Film Organization.

2015 /// NFFTY features a record 248 films from 30 states and 25 countries with over 12,000 in attendance with 48% female-directed films. The festival adds its Works-In-Progress event with our title sponsor Relativity School, helping provide detailed feedback and support to filmmakers. The NFFTY Alumni Advisory Board launches, supporting our efforts to remain connected to the needs of the next generation of filmmakers. 

2016 /// NFFTY 2016 marks ten years of NFFTY! NFFTY received over 1,000 entries with 227 films selected, representing 33 states and 24 countries. Continuing to grow its programming, NFFTY launched its first annual screenwriting competition, Story Starts Here. And NFFTY took its first steps into VR/360 filmmaking with a panel discussion and product demos at its 10th festival, as well as a continuing commitment to Works-In-Progress and our Young Women in Film initiative. NFFTY continues its NFFTY Creative work, wrapping up a 15-part series for Expedia. NFFTY takes home "One of the 50 Best Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" by MovieMaker Magazine, the TeenTix Best Film Organization, and named one of the Top 100 Rated Festivals on FilmFreeway.

2017 /// NFFTY 2017 was the largest festival yet, marking eleven years of NFFTY! NFFTY received over 1,200 entries with 257 films selected, representing 27 countries and 28 US states. NFFTY launched the inaugural NFFTYX, an exploration and celebration of 360° and virtual reality. In partnership with fearless360°, NFFTY presented a 360° VR gallery, bootcamp and VR/360° panel at NFFTY 2017. NFFTY welcomed special guest speakers, including Chris Moore (producer, Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, Manchester by the Sea) and Danish television and film directors/writers/actors Wikke & Rasmussen. NFFTY continued its commitment to women in film with a fourth straight year of over 40% of female filmmakers. NFFTY is included in Culture Vulture's "10 Best Film Festivals Worth Your Time in 2017" and one of Filmfreeway's Top 100 Rated Festivals! And NFFTY Co-Founder Kyle Seago takes over the reigns as President of the NFFTY Board of Directors, from beloved outgoing Board President Bryan Roth.