Launched in May 2022 at the former Bristol IMAX screen housed in Bristol Aquarium, Forbidden Worlds Film Festival is the city’s first genre film festival dedicated to screening repertory fantasy, action, science-fiction and horror films from around the world, and celebrating the people that made them.

Forbidden Worlds was created by a group of Bristol-based cinephiles in order to create a film festival dedicated to their mutual love of classic and obscure genre films that they grew up watching on VHS and a desire to see them on the big screen.

The festival has been running for two years and has drawn a lot of attention for resurrecting the city's former IMAX screen and screening genre classics on the biggest screen in the south west as well as receiving special intro videos from the likes of James Cameron, John Carpenter, Jamie Lee Curtis, Peter Jackson and more.

All feature films selected for the festival line-up were, up to this point, made pre-2000 and were often available to rent on VHS or were a staple of childhood movie marathons.

From 2024, Forbidden Worlds Film Festival will be looking to find the Genre Film-Makers of the Future and will be hosting two hour-long showcases of short genre films (sci-fi, action, horror) from around the world over the course of the weekend.

The winners of each category will be selected by a panel of judges made up of film professionals except for the Forbidden Worlds Audience Choice Award which will be selected by the audience who will watch the shorts on a massive 18m x 15m IMAX screen.

The next festival will take place in Bristol in May 2024, and we would like to invite any genre film makers from around the world to submit their action, horror, fantasy or sci-fi shorts that they think would meet our requirements.

Tickets for the festival will be put on sale in March 2024. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to know when they're announced:

Genre Film-Makers of the Future: Shorts Showcase

- Forbidden Worlds Short of the Year (selected by judges)
- Best Horror (selected by judges)
- Best Action (selected by judges)
- Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy (selected by judges)
- Audience Choice (selected by in-person festival attendees)

Winners will receive a certificate and an eco-friendly award from Bristol Design Forge that will be sent to them.

For more information on the judges, visit:

If your film is shortlisted, it will be screened at the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival on the former Bristol IMAX screen in front of a live audience.

To submit a film, you must have the rights or have permission from the owner to submit the film on their behalf.

All films must have an English subtitle track included, otherwise they will not be selected for screening.

Forbidden Worlds will not pay any fee to screen short films and due to limited budget, we cannot pay for travel or accommodation for any film-makers who wish to attend the festival.


Please read all rules and requirements before submitting your project:

1. The film must have been made within the past two years. We do not accept any films completed before January 2022.

2. Your short can be live action or animated, documentary or fiction, however it must belong to either the action, horror, science-fiction or fantasy genre. Festival organisers might determine which genre the film best belongs to if it spans multiple genres or isn't overly clear.

3. All films must include English subtitles, especially if the film is not shot in English. This is to make the screenings more inclusive for those with hearing needs.

4. To be eligible for awards, short films must not be available for public viewing on any video hosting sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, etc.

5. Short films should ideally be around 10 mins long, but anything up to 15 minutes may be considered subject to our panel. Please note that 15 min long films will be the exception rather than the rule!

6. Forbidden Worlds is a competitive event and unless notified otherwise, all shorts officially selected are eligible for competition. Not all submissions received will be selected for the Forbidden Worlds Film Festival

7. While submissions will be shortlisted by the festival organisers, all officially selected films will be voted upon by a panel of judges made up of film professionals. Please visit our website for details on our judging panel.

8. Forbidden Worlds reserve the right to refuse to accept any submission deemed by the Festival to be inappropriate, or not fitting in with our values. Should you have any queries, you can contact us by email on

9. Films must be submitted via the FilmFreeway platform only. We do not accept submissions through our website or email address.


1. Each submission will be viewed by a minimum of two of the Festival organisers. The Festival directors will make the final decisions on the official shortlist selection.

2. Shortlisting decisions can only be communicated to the film submitter. Please ensure that the submitter’s contact information is up-to-date and checked regularly (including junk mail).

3. Forbidden Worlds Film Festival may need to alter deadlines, notification and screening dates and reserves the right to do so.

4. If your film is disqualified or not selected, we are unfortunately unable to guarantee individual feedback.


1. Stills and clips of selected films will be used for Forbidden Worlds Film Festival publicity. Please do include stills of your films with your FilmFreeway submission, as well as your social media handles for ease of publicity.

2. Forbidden Worlds Film Festival reserves the right to edit any information provided in your submission for publicity to promote the Festival.

3. By submitting your film, you agree that Forbidden Worlds Film Festival can use parts of your film (including trailer/posters/stills) for promotional purposes.


1. A panel of external judges will watch the full shortlist in order to score the films. The panel’s scores will be averaged by the Festival directors to determine the winners.

2. In the event of a tie, the Film Festival Directors will make the final decision.

3. Winners will be informed of the judge's decision either before or at least a month after the festival.


1. By submitting your film through FilmFreeway you are agreeing to the terms above.

2. Film entry is binding and implies acceptance of these rules and terms.

3. Where there is disagreement over the interpretation of the terms, Forbidden Worlds Film Festival’s interpretation will always take precedence.

4. Failure to comply with the above may mean that your submission is disqualified.

5. All fees are non-refundable.