Bolton Film Festival returns to the Light Cinema complex within the Market Place, Bolton - a nine screen cinema in a listed Victorian building that has undergone a twenty seven million pound refurbishment.

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

With multiple state of the art screens available at The Light Cinema complex the festival will be offering lots of screen time. We only screen on DCP using the latest high end cinema projectors. If you don't have a DCP don't worry we will make you one for the festival.


Oscar & BAFTA nominated director Chris Overton picked up an award for his film "The Silent Child" at Bolton, "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 patron the actress Maxine Peake explains her motivations for being involved with Bolton Film Festival, "When Bolton, the town where I was born, announced they were launching a film festival I welcomed their invitation to become a patron. Bolton Film Festival gives film-makers and actors in the area an opportunity to celebrate the talent in and around the town, to share their work to a wider audience and to meet industry experts and other film-makers from across the North West and across the UK. Manchester offers so much, but it's fantastic that Bolton now has an annual film event of it's own."

Our juror panel is :

Producer Colin Pons (33 Features and 4 x Short Film BAFTA winner)
Olivier award winning Theatre / TV / Film director David Thacker
BAFTA nominated writer Chris Lunt ("PREY", BBC, ITV, Canal +)
Animator Meryl Edge (Cosgrove Hall, Danger Mouse, Duckula, BFG)
Multi Media Journalist D J Clark (National Geographic, Asian News)
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)
BAFTA nominated screenwriter Anita Pandolfo
Actor Ian McKee ("Kingsman - The Golden Circle", "Car Share")
Animator Jon Turner (Kilogramme)
Liza Ryan Carter (Documentary Editor, "Of Time and City")
Actor George Newton (This is England)
Music director Ben Thornley of Sitcom Soldiers
Music composers GAS Music (Umbro, BBC, Dock 10)
Animator/ Community film-makers Huckleberry Films

For a select number of nominated finalists we are offering a complimentary twin room at The Holiday Inn (this is subject to invitation by the Festival Director due to the finite number of rooms available)


Supported by The Light Cinema Experience, Bolton Council, The Holiday Inn, Bolton University, The Bolton Arts Forum, Bolton College, The Bigger Picture Arts and Bolton at Home.

Awards & Prizes

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:

Grand Jury Prize for Best Film of the Festival
Audience Award
Best International Short
Best UK Short Feature
Best North West Short
Best Documentary
Best Comedy
Best Animation
Best Three Minute Quickie
Best Experimental
Best Film For Change
Best Director
Best Performance
Best Cinematography
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

Rules & Terms


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 rule, you can also enter work that is available online (although we'd suggest you get some mileage and exclusitivity from your film before putting it online).

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

13.) 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.

11 Reviews

Overall Rating
  • false
    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
  • false
    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
  • false
    Ned Wenlock

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

    October 2017
  • false
    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
  • false
    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