Bolton Film Festival returns to the Light Cinema - a nine screen cinema in a listed Victorian building for three days of short film, industry talks, masterclasses, networking and after parties. Over 100 short films in five venues across the town.

We're seeking out innovative and groundbreaking short films from independent film-makers. Whether it’s drama, documentary, animation, comedy, VR or experimental film our aim is to showcase emerging and established talent to an audience of like-minded individuals, the general public and industry experts.

OSCAR winning director Chris Overton of "The Silent Child" said "Out of all the festivals I have been to this one was definitely up there as one of my favourites. They had their own unique touches which really made the festival special. It was amazing to see our film in front of such a big audience and on such a big screen, it was HUGE. This festival has so much heart and the festival organisers are super professional and really care about the filmmakers. There passion shines through. Oh and the awards are SO nice."


Our juror panel is :

Producer Colin Pons (33 Features and 4 x Short Film BAFTA winner)
Maggie Ellis (Producer / London Moving Image/ Jarmin Award)
Olivier award winning Theatre / TV / Film director David Thacker
BAFTA nominated writer Chris Lunt ("PREY", BBC, ITV, Canal +)
Rob Speranza (Producer / Manager @SYFN / Programmer @ASFFest)
Multi Media Journalist D J Clark (National Geographic, Asian News)
BAFTA animation creative Bridget Appleby (Cosgrove Hall/Freelance)
Liza Ryan Carter (Documentary Editor, "Of Time and the City")
Julie Foy (Oscar winning Associate Producer / Actress)
BAFTA nominated screenwriter Anita Pandolfo
Animator Jon Turner (Kilogramme)
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)
Music video director Ben Thornley of Sitcom Soldiers
Actor Ian McKee ("Kingsman - The Golden Circle", "Car Share")
Danilo Godoy - Brazil/Portugal - winner of Artist Film Aesthetica 2014
Actor George Newton (This is England)
Animator Meryl Edge (Cosgrove Hall, Danger Mouse, Duckula, BFG)
Music composers GAS Music (Umbro, BBC, Dock 10)

Supported by The Light Cinema Experience, Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, Holiday Inn, Bolton University, ProMotion Hire, Bolton College and Eon Reality

The festival will be competitive with awards presented on the night by sponsors and industry representatives from Media City and the North West.

The award categories will be:

Best of the Fest Award
Best International Short
Best UK Short Feature
Best North West Short
Best Documentary
Best Comedy
Best Animation
Best Virtual Reality / Immersive
Best Three Minute Quickie
Best Experimental
Best Film For Change
Best Cinematography
Best Performance
Best Score
Best Animation (Student)
Best International Student (M.A /Post Graduate)
Best UK Student (B.A / Under Graduate)
Best UK Student (Sixth Form / College)
Best Community or Charity Short


1.) Entries in foreign languages must come with English subtitles.

2.) All entries must have been completed between 3rd July 2016 and 3rd July 2018

3. Digital marketing materials should be made available to be used for our marketing purposes by 3rd July 2018

4.) If you have entered your film previously please to BFF do not re-enter it.

5.) BFF has no premiere or exclusivity rule - we are interested in screening your work to the widest audience not keeping it just for ourselves. You can also enter work that is available online we regularly recontextualize internet sensations by screening them in a festival setting (we would suggest you get some mileage from your film before putting it online because most film festivals don't share our viewpoint).

6.) Film-makers must include a brief synopsis of the film in no more than 150 words

7.) Provide at least one high resolution image (1920 x 1080 or higher) for the use of Bolton Film Festival promotional brochures or publicity. More images for print are recommended so we have a choice.

8.) All entries must obtain the appropriate copyright clearances (i.e. music, archive footage, images, etc). Failure to do so will result in the entry being disqualified from the competition.

9.) Shortlisted entries will be screened/demonstrated during the Festival programme.

10.) Winners will be presented with their awards during the BFF Awards Ceremony, which will take place at the festival on 2nd - 4th October 2018. There will be no prior notification of winners.

11.) If you are entering work that contains music into any category at Bolton Film Festival and you are represented by PRS / MCPS or any other similar royalties / licencing organisations then you must notify us. By entering your short film to Bolton Film Festival you (or the artists who own the music and/or their representatives (such as PRS/MCPS) are waiving rights to claim royalties on the music from any monies generated by Bolton Film Festival.

12.) The selection and scheduling of all films screened at BFF is entirely at the discretion of the Festival Director and the Judging Panel.

13.) The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

14.) The deadline for entries shall be midnight GMT 3rd July 2018.

Terms and Conditions

To be considered for the "North West" categories the filmmaker should reside within the following county borders : Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Cumbria.
To be considered for the "Community Films" category the film-maker and/or the group submitting the film should be part of a registered community group, a registered community enterprise group, a non profit or a registered charity group. Evidence supporting this claim may be required on request.

To be considered for the "International" category film-makers must reside outside of the UK.

I authorise Bolton Film Festival to exhibit my film if selected. I confirm that an exhibition copy will be made available in a required format for screening during the 2018 festival.
I certify that I hold all necessary rights for the submission of this film/video to Bolton Film Festival and that all rights and clearances have been made. This film is not subject to any litigation nor is threatened by any litigation.

By Agreeing to these Rules and Terms, I transfer to the Bolton Film Festival the right to use excerpts of the submitted film, its stills, and trailers, for the purposes of publicity and marketing of the film at the 2018 festival, and for other non-commercial uses related to the promotion of the 2018 festival.

I also acknowledges that the film submission fee does not guarantee acceptance and no refund will be provided if my film is not selected.

Upon acceptance, Bolton Film Festival will ask for my film:

1) DCP preferred
2. Minimum 1920x1080 digital file (PAL) Quicktime, MP4, AVI, H264
2) Backup Blu-Ray ( preferred ) or DVD (if requested).

If the filmmaker does not comply with the deadline to receive the film, the film can be pulled from the festival lineup.

Overall Rating
  • Rosemarie Nelson

    I really enjoyed attending Bolton Film Festival a few months ago. It was a great time and I loved all the unique and inspirational films I saw. It was also incredible to have my own film screened as part of this festival! I also loved that many of the events were free as well as paid events being very affordable. Thank you Adrian and Zoe, I'm looking forward to attending this festival in its second year :)

    November 2017
  • Ash Podda

    Enjoyable festival with a diverse array of films! Adrian Barber and George Newton were both very hospitable and welcoming, will definitely attend again. Worth entering too!

    October 2017
  • Ned Wenlock

    I wasn't able to attend this festival but the communication and sharing of information was excellent!

    October 2017
  • April Kelley

    It was a real privilege to be a part of the first Bolton film festival. The Light Cinema was a fabulous venue, it was awesome to see our films on such great screens.

    Everything was such high quality from the calibre of films through to the programmes and award design, it was hard to believe it was the opening year. Adrian and Zoe did an outstanding job and they were ever present with such warmth and dedication. I have no doubt this festival will grow and thrive and I for one hope to be back.

    - Marnie Paxton-Harris (Director Annie Waits, Script Supervisor, Edith)

    October 2017
  • Anushka Naanayakkara

    Many Thanks for such a wonderful festival. Met some amazing people and thank you to Adrian and Zoe for putting on such a wonderful and warm festival. Great place to see amazing talent and to meet fellow film makers.

    September 2017