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Tomorrow’s filmmakers, today

NFFTY

When the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) rolls out the red carpet later this week, the next Spielberg or Ephron might be among the 200+ filmmakers whose works will be screened during the four-day festival.

They just might not be able to drive themselves to the screening, and many won’t be able to network over post-festival beers.

NFFTY, entering its seventh year, spotlights 215 films from around the world – all made by directors 22 and younger. Filmmakers come from as far as Denmark and South Africa, but at least two UW students will showcase their work this week: Andrew Mitrack will screen his film “One Way Single,” and Alexis Lee will show “The Face of Facebook.”

The main attraction is the sheer volume of screenings: Films, grouped by genre, will be shown throughout the weekend at SIFF Cinema Uptown in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, with many of the NFFTY filmmakers taking part in question-and-answer sessions and panel discussions on a variety of film-related topics. “These youth are definitely on the fast track,” said NFFTY Managing Director Lindsey LeDuc, ’04.

“Kid” isn’t always a misnomer, either. Children as young as 8 have created films for the festival, where the average film is about eight minutes long.

But teens and college students also take part. Many college filmmakers submit their thesis or class projects for consideration, LeDuc said.

One of those students was filmmaker Champ Ensminger, ’12. In 2011, he submitted “Tonal,” a six-minute film he’d shot for a filmmaking class. The film followed a young man’s addiction and relationship with sounds. Ensminger, who now lives in Brooklyn, won the Audience Award for Experimental Cinema for the film.

But, for Ensminger and so many filmmakers, the real fun begins after the credits roll. “NFFTY was a good showcase of the work you’ve been doing, but that’s where it starts,” he said. “It has to be a springboard for doing more work.”

And that connection is what’s fueled NFFTY’s growth over the years. The screenings themselves are just part of what NFFTY does; student filmmakers talk shop, draw up plans to collaborate, and see what their peers are doing, creating a unique atmosphere of creativity and inspiration that lives on long after the festival finishes each year. “By attending, you get to see the voice of this generation,” LeDuc said. “It’s really powerful to have these young artists from all over the world come together to show what inspires them.”

If You Go

What: National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), showcasing more than 200 films by directors 22 and younger from around the world

Where: Opening Night Gala: Seattle Cinerama, 2110 4th Ave., Seattle, Wash.; All other events: SIFF Cinema Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Avenue North, Seattle, Wash.

When: April 25-28; visit nffty.org for a complete schedule of events.

Cost: Opening Night Gala: $35, $25 for youth, $20 per person in groups of 10 or more; All other events: $11, $10 for youth, $9 per person in groups of 10 or more.

More info: Call 206-905-8400 or visit nffty.org.

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