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Originally published April 24, 2014 at 9:07 AM | Page modified April 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM

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NFFTY and Langston Hughes film festivals get under way

National Film Festival for Talented Youth and Langston Hughes African American Film Festival launch their 2014 seasons on April 24 and April 26, respectively.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Two of Seattle’s niche film festivals kick off this week: the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), opening Thursday, and the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival (LHAAFF), opening April 26.

Both will offer local as well as international films, from more than 10 countries each, hoping to provide a little something for everyone.

National Film Festival for Talented Youth

NFFTY, now in its eighth year, is a four-day frenzy of 214 films made by youths 22 and under across the country and the world.

One goal for NFFTY organizers this time around is to support young female filmmakers, who directed 40 percent of this year’s films. The festival will also grant its first-ever “emerging female filmmaker” award on closing night.

In the film industry, only 9 percent of directors and 25 percent of producers are women, said Stefanie Malone, managing director of NFFTY. “We’re looking at ways to help and support young filmmakers ... But we also hope that this is merely a kicking off point.”

Another new feature at this year’s festival is a panel featuring some of the biggest names in animation, including Dan Lund of “Frozen” and Wilbert Plijnaar of “Despicable Me.” They will join two other animators to share their wisdom Saturday evening.

Malone said that even though the festival focuses on youth-made films, the movies themselves should appeal to film lovers of all ages.

“I think that NFFTY gets a little lost because we have the word ‘youth,’” she said. “Sometimes there is this idea that it is a kids’ film festival, [but] it is not a kids’ film festival at all ... These are the Steven Spielbergs and the Kathryn Bigelows of tomorrow.”

Stop by the festival on closing night this Sunday for a peek at the first-ever NFFTY-produced documentary, which follows a vitamin-distribution project in nutrient-deficient populations of the world.

April 24-27, Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., Seattle, and SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; $9-$11 (206-905-8400 or nffty.org).

Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

This year marks the 11th LHAAFF, which will feature 56 films, three from Seattle filmmakers.

One is “Life in America,” a feature about the bond between a troubled young man and his mother. The other two are short films: one, a documentary exploring the creative genre of steampunk; the other, about multiple proposals from a man to his longtime girlfriend.

According to LHAAFF spokeswoman Jennifer Rice, the festival has seen growing attendance each year — particularly after the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, where the films are typically screened, reopened last year following two years of renovation.

“[It was] very nice, last year we were all under one roof again, where we belong, and the numbers were increased,” Rice said. “This year, we expect the same thing.”

Rice said that whereas the festival has leaned toward one genre or another in the past, this year is a little more balanced.

“I think we have a really eclectic mix of films, meaning, representing the African-American Diaspora from all over the world,” she said.

Look out for family films during the first weekend, “Ladies Night” on May 1 and an LGBTQ-focused screening on May 3.

April 26-May 4, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S., Seattle; $5-$10 (206-684-4757 or langstoninstitute.org/film-festival).

Shirley Qiu: sqiu@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @callmeshirleyq



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