Cheltenham International Film Festival (CIFF) marked its fifth anniversary in 2023 by hosting two of Britain’s greatest living directors, Sir Stephen Frears and Ken Loach.

Following in the footsteps of Dame Judi Dench and Mike Leigh, the festival had the honour of presenting Sir Stephen with a life-time achievement award; and we were awarded the added distinction of screening the premiere of Ken Loach’s latest and, presumably, final film, The Old Oak, in the presence of the director, who took audience Q&A after the screening.

We also welcomed celebrated director, Carol Morley, with her latest film Artist Typist Pirate King who was joined by the film’s producer Cairo Cannon and leading lady, the multi-award winning actress, Monica Dolan. Timothy Spall came to the film festival along with actor/director, Ian Puleston-Davies for a preview of their film, Bolan’s Shoes.

The Festival introduced a number of new strands including television with the premiere of the BBC Television drama Boiling Point. The premiere in front of a live audience was introduced by the producers, writer and cast who talked about the journey of Boiling Point from film short to feature film to television series.

We also launched CineYouth to engage young people with the culture of cinema and the art of filmmaking. And, we had our most successful season yet of short film screenings which we were able to combine under the title of On The Dark Side.

This year the film festival is from 13 - 22 September and we welcome film submissions for feature film length films, narrative and documentary, as well as short films, narrative and documentary. And, we thank the actor, Simon Pegg, for his continued patronage of the film festival.

All films are watched by a selection panel, diverse in makeup. Films selected for the festival 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.

For the past three 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.

In 2023 we were delighted to have as Chair of the panel, Sara Putt, who is Chair of BAFTA.

Previous winners:
2023 - RICEBOY SLEEPS - Canada (Anthony Shim) & EXODUS - Lebanon (Abbe Hassan)
2022 - OLGA by Swiss director Elie Grappe
2021 - I NEVER CRY by Polish director, Piotr Domalewski

The organisers will introduce a second award in 2024 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
  • We have been blown away by the support from CIFF. An incredible festival for celebrating and nurturing emerging filmmakers, with a stellar programme. Thank you and we look forward to seeing future editions of the festival.

    October 2023
    Response from festival:

    Thank you Charlotte for your kind words. Your short film, Rose, was a moving portrait of a woman strong in her resolve to face life full on. The jury was delighted to select your short film as part of our programme On The Dark Side and audience feedback was very positive.

  • 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