Bolton International Film Festival is the largest short film festival in the North West of England and sits amongst the Top 10 short film festivals in the UK. Located in Greater Manchester the festival holds accreditation from both BAFTA (British Academy of Film & Television Arts) and BIFA (British Independent Film Awards).

The festival is a member of the Short Film Conference who's activities range from organising industry events to researching the short film industry, informing its professionals & lobbying for the rights of short films and their creators.

In October the festival opens its doors to a diverse and vibrant audience, drawing filmmakers, students, industry professionals, and a broad spectrum of the public. Every screening is followed by engaging Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.

Celebrating films from home and abroad the festival acts as an amplifier of emerging and established talent. Through its screenings, industry talks, masterclasses and networking sessions it aims to break open the door to a creative industry that many filmmakers find difficult to access and navigate. Bolton Film Festival helps springboard its filmmakers, connecting them not just to their peers but to the talent executives, producers, funders, sales agents and distributors who can take them to the next level.


The festival delivers a hybrid experience, with in person screenings for five days from Wed 2nd Oct - Sun 6th Oct and a secure digital platform (*geo restricted to UK) to catch up on films and masterclasses from 9th to 20th October.

Note: * Please note that online screenings are an optional feature for selected filmmakers, it is not compulsory. Choosing to participate provides an opportunity for you and your fellow filmmakers to connect with audiences, sales agents, distributors, and approved industry contacts from around the world.


Q: Do you require a Premiere?
A: No it's not particularly a focus for us, but we were still pleased to see we had 74 UK Premieres, 32 European and 24 World Premieres last year.

Q: Do you accept films that are already available online?
A: Yes, we don't require any kind of premiere status, so online films are eligible.

Q: If my short could fit into two categories, such as an animated documentary, how do I choose which category to submit to?
A: Submit to the category that you feel best represents your short. If accepted into the Official Selection, our programmers will find the best place for the film. You DON'T need to enter multiple categories.

Q: Am I eligible for all the awards?
A: Yes, if its appropriate. For example you could win the Documentary award and the Women in Film award if you had made a documentary and you are a woman.

Q: Are student shorts eligible for non-student awards?
A: Yes, student shorts are eligible for all the awards.

Q: Do you accept works-in-progress?
A: Yes we accept a work-in-progress that is picture locked but it must include an opening slate listing what still needs to be completed (color-correction, sound mix, special effects). Programmers only watch submissions once, so we only recommend a WIP entry if you are going to miss the final deadline.

Q. Do I have to include my film in the online aspect of the festival?
A. No, it's optional. If selected for the festival, we will send you a form to fill in which includes the option to opt out of the online aspect if you want to.


Amy O'Hara - Talent Executive - Film4
Simon Nelson (BBC Drama Development Executive)
Producer Colin Pons (33 Features and 2 x BAFTA winner)
MarBelle (Co-Founder of Directors Notes)
Maggie Ellis (Producer/ Film London (FLAMIN) / Jarman Award)
Rob Speranza (Producer / Programmer@ Aesthetica Film Fest)
Isabelle Croissant (Talent Developer @ HOME Manchester)
Kim Hopkins (Grierson Nominated Documentary Director)
Anna Price (RTS winner & BAFTA nominated Doc Editor)
D J Clark Multi Media Doc Journalist (National Geographic, Asian News)
Chris Lunt 2 x BAFTA nominated writer ("PREY", BBC, ITV, Canal +)
Writers - The Clarkson Twins (Haunting of Bly Manor (Netflix)
Loran Dunn (Producer at Delaval Films)
Caroline Bottomley (Shiney Awards)
Animation/Producer Aaron Wood (Slurpy Studios / Skwigly Magazine)
Animator Steve Boot
Animator/Producer Jon Turner (Kilogramme)
Animator Sarah Anne Kennedy (UCLAN Course Leader in Animation)
Rob Scott (VR Manchester)
Annabeth Robinson (Electronic Artist/Salford Animation Course Leader)
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)

Supported by The Light Cinema Experience, Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, The Market Place, Holiday Inn, Bolton University, Film Hub North and BFI Audience Network

The festival will be competitive with the awards presented on the night by sponsors and industry representatives.

Best International Short
Best UK Short
Best Made up North
Best Documentary
Best Comedy
Best Animation
Best Experimental
Best LGBTQ+ short
Best Horror
Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Best Three Minute Quickie
Best Immersive Experience (360/VR)
Best Women in Film
Best Fashion Film
Best Dance Film
Best Music Video
Best Animation (Student)
Best Student Post Graduate (M.A)
Best Student Under Graduate (B.A)
Lens For Change Award


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

2.) All entries must have been completed between 18th June 2022 and 18th June 2024

3. Digital marketing materials should be made available to be used for our marketing purposes by 18th June 2024

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

5.) Please ensure you only submit your film once – there are no refunds for duplicate submissions, a single entry to the festival will suffice, there is no need to enter multiple categories.

6.) All submissions are final and there are no refunds. Films need to be submitted through FilmFreeway to be considered for inclusion.

7.) BFF has no premiere or exclusivity rule, we also consider work that is already online.

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

9.) 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.

10.) 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 if we discover you do not have appropriate clearances.

11.) We will consider a Work in Progress version of your film, but the film must remain picture locked. Please include a cover letter making it clear the film is a work in progress and/or a credit at the beginning of the film with the words "Work in Progress". A final version of the film must be uploaded within 30 days.

12.) The selected entries will be screened during the Festival programme.

13.) Winners will be presented with their awards during the BFF Awards Ceremony, which will take place at the festival on Sunday 5th October 2024. There will be no prior notification of winners.

14.) If you are entering work that contains music into any category at Bolton Film Festival it is your responsibility to get clearance. 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.

15.) The selection and scheduling of all films screened at Bolton Film Festival is entirely at the discretion of the Festival Director and the programming team. In the event of unseen circumstances it may be necessary to reschedule the event to a later date but notification will be provided to all selected film-makers. No refunds are possible after entering your work into the festival submissions process.

16.) The programmers and judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into with them about their decision making.

17.) The deadline for entries shall be midnight GMT 18th June 2024.


To be considered for the "Made up North" categories the filmmaker should reside within the area defined by the BFI Film Hub North:
To be considered for the "Community and Charity" 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 should be provided in the form of a cover letter and/or supporting documents.

The submitter of the film authorises Bolton Film Festival to exhibit the film if selected and confirm that an exhibition copy will be made available in a required format for screening during the 2024 festival.

The submitter certifies that they hold all the necessary rights and clearances for the submission of the film and the 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 2024 festival, and for other non-commercial uses related to the promotion of the 2024 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) Pro Res preferred
3) Minimum specifications 1920x1080 digital file, MP4, H264/H265

If the filmmaker does not comply with the deadline to receive the film, the film can be pulled from the festival line up and replaced by another film and film-maker.

Overall Rating
  • Gareth Brown

    Loved attending this festival. Great audiences and fun parties.

    January 2024
  • Julia Benarrous

    We weren't able to be there in person, but Adrian Barber has been great - excellent communication about the festival, so supportive, and the VR lineup was great! Thank you again for everything. So proud to see TARGO's VR documentary "JFK Memento" win Bolton's VR Award in 2023.

    November 2023
  • Nathan Miller

    We had a brilliant time in Bolton for Dead Cat Film. They were kind enough to feature our film in multiple screenings which was a great opportunity. Networking events were very well attended and we met loads of new people!

    November 2023
  • Cat White

    The quality of films at Bolton was exceptional. Up there with the best I have seen. We were thrilled that Ceres was nominated for Best UK Short and Best Women in Film. Look forward to bringing many more shorts to Bolton in the future.

    November 2023
  • Judi Alston

    A truly authentic film festival showing a great variety of beautiful, thought provoking films from all over the world. Adrian and the team were fantastic at communicating and making us welcome. We saw old friends and made new ones. We were delighted to show our VR film The Abandoned Library as part of Expanded Realities. Highly recommended. Well done Bolton to the team and volunteers who make this great event happen.

    October 2023