Bolton International Film Festival is proud to be one of the Top 10 short film festivals in the UK and accredited by both BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) and BIFA (British Independent Film Awards).

BFF currently sits in the Top 10 "Best Reviewed" on FilmFreeway from over 12,000 festivals worldwide. It is an IMDb registered festival.

The festival offers a diverse audience made up of filmmakers, industry and a broad spectrum of the public. We offer Q&A's to filmmakers following on every screening.

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

The OSCAR winning director Chris Overton from "The Silent Child" said "Out of all the festivals I have been to, this one was definitely 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. Their passion shines through. Oh and the awards are SO nice."

The festival delivers a hybrid experience, with in person screenings for five days in the cinema from Wed 4th October - Sun 8th October and a secure digital platform (*geo restricted to UK) for catch up on films and masterclasses from 12th to 22nd October.

We're currently seeking innovative and ground breaking short films of all genres for our next edition. Regarding the categories and awards, you need only enter your film once to the festival to qualify for all. Please enter the category you feel is the best fit for your film, if our programmers feel it is best placed in another category they will move it accordingly.


Amy O'Hara - Talent Executive - Film4
Producer Colin Pons (33 Features and 2 x BAFTA winner)
Adam Miller (Senior Programmer Big Sky Documentary Festival)
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)
Caroline Bottomley (Shiney Awards)
Chris Hees (BAFTA winner & OSCAR nominated producer)
Anna Price (RTS winner & BAFTA nominated Doc Editor)
David Thacker, Olivier award winning Theatre / TV / Film director
Mike Todd (Producer / Northern Docs / Riverhorse Films)
D J Clark Multi Media 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)
Animator Bridget Appleby BAFTA winner (& RTS Juror)
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)
Dr. Kirsty Fairclough (Screen Studies - School of Digital Arts (SODA))
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)
Danilo Godoy - Brazil/Portugal - Casting Director

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

* Online screenings are optional for the selected filmmakers. Should you choose to be included, you and the other selected filmmakers can watch from anywhere in the world, along with sales agents, distributors and other approved industry contacts.

** In light of the ongoing Covid 19 situation

We fully expect to be delivering physical screenings in 2023. At the time of writing the population is 88.3% fully vaccinated. We delivered the 2022 edition in October and all of our screenings and industry events saw no reported Covid 19 cases.

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

Audience Award
Best International Short
Best UK Short
Best Made up North
Best Documentary
Best Comedy
Best Animation
Best Three Minute Quickie
Best LGBTQ+ short
Best VR/360
Best Experimental
Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Best Women in Film
Best Thriller
Best Horror
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
Best Community/Charity


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

2.) All entries must have been completed between 1st January 2021 and 17th June 2023

3. Digital marketing materials should be made available to be used for our marketing purposes by 17th June 2023

4.) If you have entered your film previously to BFF please 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.) The selected 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 Sunday 8th October 2023. There will be no prior notification of winners or nominees.

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 (other than if we cancel the entire event) are possible after entering your work into the festival submissions process.

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

14.) The deadline for entries shall be midnight GMT 17th June 2023.


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 supporting documents attached (if you have them).

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 2023 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 2023 festival, and for other non-commercial uses related to the promotion of the 2023 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 line up and replaced by another film and film-maker.

Overall Rating
  • Claudia Paterson

    Such a vibrant, well-put together festival. Run by genuinely passionate people who are in it for all the right reasons.

    November 2022
  • Misha McCullagh

    Delighted to have been part of Bolton International Film Festival 2022. Really relaxed atmosphere, great selection of films and lovely hosts Adrian and Zoe. Hope to be back again!

    November 2022
  • Annette Westwood

    Outstanding festival! Thrilled our film was part of the line-up for Bolton International Film Festival 2022 ✨Truly FANTASTIC Festival & team!✨💯

    October 2022
  • Aella Jordan-Edge

    Such a friendly, lovely, warm and supportive atmosphere for genuine film lovers! The organisers are so present and approachable and it's a great vibe and atmosphere they created. Really loved being part of this festival and already looking forward to next year!

    October 2022
  • james slater

    Surely one of the best festivals going. An exceptional programme run by the most friendly, passionate team. Loved chatting to fellow filmmakers across festival and really appreciated the smooth running of the screenings in the Light cinema complex which meant you could watch programmes back to back until your belly was full with shorts of all forms and varieties. Will be back x

    October 2022