Cheltenham International Film Festival (CIFF) marks it’s fifth anniversary in 2023, moving from its original mid-May dates to 15 – 24 September 2023, with plans to broaden its audience by adding live screenings of the film festival beyond Cheltenham across selected cinemas and theatres in South-West England and beyond.

Cheltenham was the first international feature film festival in the UK to stream its festival programme online, when the first Covid lockdown was announced, and it plans to continue as a ‘SCREEN & STREAM’ hybrid event, live screening films from all over the world and streaming a complementary programme online through its digital platform YourScreen (

Cheltenham, officially designated “The Festival Town”, is home to the Literature Festival, Jazz Festival and Music Festival, among others, and has attracted many high-profile celebrities through the decades. The Film Festival has welcomed live and online the popular actor, Simon Pegg (our Honorary Patron), Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears, Steven Berkoff, the Oscar-nominated Polish director, Jan Komasa, producer, Stephen Woolley and many more. In 2022, headline guest was Dame Judi Dench in a new strand CELEBRATE to honour the work of distinguished actors.


The festival is founded on promoting films by emerging filmmakers. In 2021, the Festival introduced films ‘IN COMPETITION’ to draw attention to these films, open only to directors with one or two films on their C.V. The festival is founded on promoting films by emerging filmmakers. In 2020, the Festival introduced films ‘IN COMPETITION’ to draw attention to these films, open only to directors with one or two films on their C.V. SARA PUTT, new chair of BAFTA, leads the 2023 jury of professionals from film, the arts, media and local personalities who gather each year to select one film from ‘IN COMPETITION’ as BEST FILM. Films ‘In COMPETITION’ raises the interest of audiences and allows filmmakers the opportunity to use in their promotional material.


The Festival plans to introduce a number of new features in 2023, including a CLASSIC FILM strand to recognise key anniversaries. Discussions are also taking place with the prestigious Cheltenham Jazz Festival about linking jazz with film, and we will formalise our youth programme, CINEYOUTH, introducing young audiences to the culture of cinema and the art of filmmaking. Consideration is also being given to add television to film, given all the excellent drama currently being streamed.

We will continue with festival strands first introduced in 2019: i) to honour celebrated film directors and producers like Mike Leigh, Stephen Frears, Stephen Woolley; ii) and “COUNTRY FOCUS”, where we spotlight emerging and celebrated directors specific to that country. In 2023, our COUNTRY FOCUS is Spain.


We welcome feature films, narrative and documentary, as well as shorts from emerging filmmakers. All films are watched by a selection panel which numbered up to 20 people in 2022. Films selected for the festival will allow filmmakers access to new audiences in a town that has been home to arts festivals through the decades and home to many celebrities who live in the area. Films will also have the opportunity to be screened online via YourScreen.

For the past two years, there has been one award and that is BEST FILM. It is open only to emerging filmmakers with their first or second feature film, (on occasion we may accept a third feature film).

The BEST FILM is selected from a short list of seven films designated as ‘IN COMPETITION’. The seven ‘IN COMPETITION’ films are selected by a panel from all the films to be screened during the 10 days of the film festival.

Previous winners:

2022 - OLGA by Swiss director Elie Grappe
2021 - I NEVER CRY by Polish director, Piotr Domalewski

The organisers are also to introduce a second award in 2023 for BEST SHORT FILM. All short films screened during the film festival will be eligible for BEST SHORT FILM.

Film Submissions:

1. All films must be submitted uploaded directly to FilmFreeway.
2. The CIFF cannot accept films that are on DVD or Blu-ray
3. Each submission must be accompanied by a submission fee, paid in full

Eligibility of Film For Submission:

1. Feature film: Narrative – at least 69 minutescos
2. Feature film: Documentary – at least 60 minutes

3. Short film: Narrative – not more than 17 minutes
4. Short film: Documentary – not more than 17 minutes

5. Animation films and experimental are also eligible for entry into the CIFF.

Note: Length of feature and shorts may be adjusted for any single particular film. The final decision rests with the organisers of the CIFF.

7. Films not in the English language should be subtitled in English
8. Film must have been completed after 1 September, 2021
9. Works-in-progress films are accepted as long as they are clearly marked as such or “rough cut”, with reference to missing elements ie VFX or colour correction.

Premiere Status:

1. The CIFF does not operate a premiere status and does not require a premiere in any category of film
2. Films are eligible and accepted into competition even if they have been screened at other festivals
3. But, entries may not have been screened theatrically or publicly in the area of South- West England prior to the CIFF

Festival Screening:

1. Films will be screened on DCP unless otherwise stated by the organisers.
2. The CIFF also requires Blu-ray as a back up to DCP.
3. On line films will be streamed on the Film Festival’s host page of YourScreen


A selection panel composed of professionals from film, the arts, media, local personalities and enthusiastic volunteers with a special interest in film are charged with viewing all film submissions and for compiling a list of films to invite to the Festival. Once the panel has made its final decision, invites will be sent to the successful filmmakers by 15 August 2023. Please ensure that we always have your latest contact details on file so that we may reach you. Due to the volume of entries, and with some exception, it is not possible to offer individual feedback.

Successful submissions will be listed on our website ( and social media platforms.

If your film is successful we shall require press/publicity materials, including an electronic press kit, and digital images.

Overall Rating
  • Lukas Steinmaier

    Thanks a lot for selecting my short film "Sunday Roast" to your 2022 festival! Although I could not attend in person the venue and overall communication with the organisers was great and I hope to be back in person this year!

    February 2023
  • Excellent festival and team. Jacob went the extra mile to accommodate my needs

    June 2022
  • Emma Morley

    Thank for selecting The Walled Garden, I’m thrilled the film was included in A Few Short Stories with such great filmmakers. A high quality festival, I’m honoured that my film was selected to be part of it.

    June 2022
  • Abbey Wilson

    CIFF was a great festival to be a part of! It managed to acquire some brilliant industry filmmakers to come and do exciting workshops and panels, as well as amazing Q&A's, with the likes of Mike Leigh and Josie Rourke. As well as providing some quality names, it included shorts from unknown filmmakers for them to get their names out there, and provided great discounts for students and the filmmakers involved. A real great effort for its first year and I'm excited to see what comes of it in the future!

    June 2019
  • Sam Tipper

    Excellent venues, nice people and some big names attached to the festival. I'm sure it will establish a great reputation for itself in the coming years.

    June 2019