Subject to the Coronavirus situation Bolton International Film Festival still intends to deliver a physical festival from 29th September to 1st October 2020. We are working harder than ever to bring you an outstanding programme of screenings, industry events, networking and masterclasses.

Consistently voted a "Top 100 reviewed" festival from over 8000+ film festivals and recently listed as a "Top 12 UK Indie Film Festival" by FilmDaily we are also a Creative England CE50 (an award for the 50 most exciting, innovative and disruptive creative companies across film, games and digital media in the UK).

Our previous editions have included BAFTA and OSCAR winning short films, crowd funded films, student films, passion projects and BFI and Creative England funded films. Our most notable success coming from "The Silent Child" which later went on to win the Academy Award for Best Short Action film.

The OSCAR winning director Chris Overton from "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."

We're currently seeking innovative and groundbreaking short films from independent film-makers for our next edition. Whether it’s fiction, documentary, animation, comedy, 360, experimental or artist moving image our aim is to showcase emerging and established talent to an audience of like-minded individuals, the general public and industry experts.

VOTED A "TOP 100" FESTIVAL IN 2017, 2018, 2019...

Our juror panel is :

Producer Colin Pons (33 Features and 2 x BAFTA winner)
MarBelle (Co-Founder of Directors Notes)
Maggie Ellis (Producer/ Film London (FLAMIN) / Jarman Award)
David Thacker, Olivier award winning Theatre / TV / Film director
Alice Ramsey (Development Producer @ BBC Writers Room)
Stephanie Clark (Creative England)
Isabelle Croissant (Talent Developer @ HOME Manchester)
Rebecca Mark-Lawson (Producer at Tyke Films)
Mike Todd (Producer / Northern Docs / Riverhorse Films)
Paul Sapin (Documentary Producer & Director)
Rob Speranza (Producer/ SYFN / Programmer@Aesthetica Film Fest)
D J Clark Multi Media Journalist (National Geographic, Asian News)
Chris Lunt 2 x BAFTA nominated writer ("PREY", BBC, ITV, Canal +)
Loran Dunn (Producer at Delaval Films)
Animator Bridget Appleby BAFTA winner (& RTS Juror)
Animation Producer Aaron Wood (Slurpy Studios / Skwigly Magazine)
Animator Steve Boot
Animator Jon Turner (Kilogramme)
Animator Sarah Anne Kennedy (UCLAN Course Leader in Animation)
Actor/Producer Julie Foy (OSCAR Winner)
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)
Actor Ian McKee ("Kingsman - The Golden Circle", "Car Share")
Music video director Ben Thornley of Sitcom Soldiers
Danilo Godoy - Brazil/Portugal - winner of Artist Film Aesthetica 2014

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

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

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

Our Made Up North finalists will be eligible for a "Festival Strategy" prize from Festival Formula.

Awarded to a Made Up North finalist by our festival director Adrian Barber the Festival Formula strategy service offers "a personalised festival strategy with a list of carefully selected festivals for your film which takes into account the length, production values, genre, and budget limitations for submission fees."


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

2.) All entries must have been completed between 10th June 2018 and 10th June 2020

3. Digital marketing materials should be made available to be used for our marketing purposes by 10th June 2020

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 also consider work that is already 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 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 29th Sept - 1st October 2020. There will be no prior notification of winners.

11.) 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.

12.) 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.

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

14.) The deadline for entries shall be midnight GMT 10th June 2020.


To be considered for the "Made up North" categories the filmmaker should reside within the following county borders : Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire.
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.

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 2020 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.

***** Additional terms in relation to the Covid 19 situation. *****

Let us be very clear we have zero intention of cancelling our festival but with random people dieing suddenly each week we need to bear in mind this could happen to our key staff. Otherwise if we are alive and well we will definitely be going ahead with a festival.

Just in case, some terms to put your mind at rest...

1. If we cancel this year's edition before our final deadline of 10th June we will offer a full refund to all submission holders.

2. If we cancel our event during the selection process (11th June - 9th August) we will offer a 50% refund to all submission holders.

3. After our "Official Selections" notification (August 9th) we will send you an official laurel but still offer a 50% refund to the official selection submission holders if we have to cancel the event. Those submissions holders who are not selected will not be entitled to a refund.

4. If we postpone the event from the 29th Sept - 1st Oct to later dates we will inform the selected film-makers/submission holders of the new screening dates but offer no refunds.

5. If the film festival cannot deliver option 4 in a reasonable time frame we will look to an online screening. The film-maker will have the option to "opt in or out" to the online festival.

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 2020 festival, and for other non-commercial uses related to the promotion of the 2020 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 1920x1080 digital file Quicktime, MP4, AVI, H264

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

Overall Rating
  • Máire Dee

    A great festival with lots of pride.

    January 2020
  • It's always such an honor to screen our short films at this truly amazing and well organized film festival. Highly Recommended festival. Thank you once again for selecting "Dreamland" for the short film cometition and we look forward to future edition! Warm Regards from Warsaw.

    December 2019
  • Helen Reilly

    I could not go but communication was great and I could see that they promoted the festival heavily and held alot of networking events. Hopefully there will be another year.

    December 2019
  • Dusan Kastelic

    Simply one of the Best Indie Film Festivals in the world! Great film selection, competent jury, great organisation and most importantly- big enthusiastic audience. I'm really honoured that my film was (finally) accepted to this festival (and even won an award!).

    October 2019
  • I only have good things to say about this festival, great and clear communication, friendly and generous staff, lots of fun events besides the screenings- winning the award for best comedy was icing on the cake!

    October 2019