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  • Writer's pictureAllan Shedlin

Appreciation of Dads In Their Presence and Absence May Be Reaching All-Time High

Our KIDS FIRST! Daddying Film Festival Film Marquee and Circle of Friends Grow as Call For Entries Nears May 7th Deadline

By Allan Shedlin

Grampsy and DADvocacy Consulting Group Founder

Like it has for so many of you, the illegal war on Ukraine has placed the importance of involved dads into even sharper focus for me. It has forced us to witness "dads left behind" and imagine/witness what that has been like for too many families. Occasionally, we are treated to father-child reunions. As heartwarming as those sweet images are, unfortunately, they've been rare.

Indeed, our relationship with our father – in its presence or its absence – is one of the most important relationships in our lives. It is foundational and can echo through generations. This is also the foundation upon which we developed the KIDS FIRST! Daddying Film Festival. (KFDFF), which will take place June 13-20, the week leading up to and including Father's Day 2022.

In my February blog post announcing the Festival and our call for entries, I suggested, as I had to a group of fathers in a parenting workshop some years ago, that we think of our daddying as a product. And in doing so, we should consult with the consumers of that product as a way for us to strive towards improving it. Our children are the consumers of our daddying. And in many parts of the world, including right here at home in the US, many of those consumers' voices have been drowned out by the chaos of war, of a pandemic, of poverty, of extremist politics and policies. As in my own decades of research and interviews with kids of all ages, the KFDFF encourages student filmmakers to convey what qualities they find most important in their dads/dad figures and provides them a platform to express how they feel about the relationship they have or wish they had with them.

A big Daddying thank you to our KFDFF Circle of Friends!

We began our KFDFF promotional efforts months ago by reaching out to a variety of family- and child-focused colleagues, organizations, and entertainment industry professionals. Gradually, we've built a diverse coalition of like-minded individuals and organizations, our KFDFF Circle of Friends, to help us reach more families and student filmmakers with our call for entries and emphasize the importance of dads in the lives of kids and vice versa.

Important Festival Reminders & Dates

The KFDFF encourages students, 1st grade through college undergraduates, to create and submit 1- to 5-minute short films or videos to the Festival for FREE with the theme “A Letter to My Father/Father Figure.”

Does your student filmmaker need a little inspiration or guidance to help them plan their visual "love letters" to their dad, dad figure, or dad they wish they had? They can check out this KFDFF "5 Steps to a 5-Minute Film" infographic to get them started! And here are a few more how-to resources they may find helpful:

Students can find more information about Festival entry requirements and submit their short films/videos for consideration on the KFDFF FilmFreeway site by clicking the button below:

The KFDFF deadline for entries is Saturday, May 7.

KFDFF Awards will be presented to one student winner in each of four grade-level categories (1st through 4th grades, 5th through 8th, 9th through 12th, and college undergraduates) at a virtual event on Saturday, June 18. Winners will be chosen by online, public vote during the Festival week.

Student winners will receive a generous scholarship prize (amount TBD) and an “Atticus,” which symbolizes Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Finch, represents several ideal daddying qualities and, to many, his character symbolizes morality and justice. The fact that the story is narrated by his young daughter, Scout, adds to the importance of the symbolism of the Award.

All student finalists (up to 5 in each grade-level category) will receive a $250 award, an official finalist certificate, and will have their short film/video screened during the virtual Festival. Along with student filmmakers, non-student independent filmmakers will be eligible to win a "Best Film" Atticus statuette. For a sneak peek at some examples of the daddying-friendly, indie films already filling up our Festival's marquee, you can now visit our KFDFF Eventive site HERE. While there, be sure to register for your FREE, all-access pass that will allow you to stream every student finalist and accepted indie film during the Festival week (6/13-6/20). More films will be added as we continue to review submissions and as student films are named as KFDFF finalists.

Thank you all for encouraging kids to create and submit their films by the May 7 deadline. We can't wait for Father's Day week and for everyone to see all the wonderful student and indie films KFDFF has in store – Daddy on!


Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019 he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D the most important “degree” of all.


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