Bolton Film Festival is proud to be both a BIFA and BAFTA Qualifying short film festival and recognised as one of the top 10 short film festivals in the UK.

Celebrating films from home and abroad the festival acts as an amplifier of emerging and established talent. Through its screenings, industry talks, masterclasses and networking sessions it aims to break open the door to a creative industry that many people find difficult to access and navigate.

The festival currently sits in the Top 10 "Best Reviewed" on FilmFreeway and has been consistently voted a "Top 100 reviewed" festival from over 10000+ festivals since it first began.

Bolton Film Festival is known for its friendly relaxed atmosphere in which a regional audience joins with film and media professionals from across the UK and from all around the world.

Our previous editions have included films that have gone on to major awards, including the OSCAR's, the BAFTA's, the BIFA's, the European Film Awards (EFA), the Griersons, the Goya's, Les Césars and the Annie awards. 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 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."

The festival offers a hybrid experience, with in person screenings in the cinema from Wed 5th October - Sun 9th October and a secure geo restricted digital platform (inclusion for filmmakers is optional) from 12th to 23rd October.

British short films programmed at Bolton Film Festival are eligible to enter BAFTA’s British Short Film award (presented at the BAFTA Film Awards). All British Short Films selected at the festival qualify to the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA).

We're currently seeking innovative and ground breaking short films from independent film-makers for our next edition. Whether it’s Fiction, Documentary, Animation, Comedy, Horror, VR/Immersive or Experimental/Artist Film our aim is to showcase emerging and established talent to an audience of like-minded individuals, the general public and industry experts.

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
Isabelle Croissant (Talent Developer @ HOME Manchester)
Caroline Bottomley (Shiney Awards)
Adam Miller (Senior Programmer Big Sky Documentary Festival)
Anna Price (RTS winner & BAFTA nominated Doc Editor)
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 +)
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))
Music video director Ben Thornley of Sitcom Soldiers
Actor Gerard Kearns (Shameless, Last Kingdom, Looking for Eric)
Danilo Godoy - Brazil/Portugal - winner of Artist Film Aesthetica

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

* In light of the ongoing Covid 19 Pandemic

We fully expect to be delivering physical screenings in 2022. Although the UK has recently seen large numbers of Covid infections the curve is dropping very fast. At the time of writing the population is 83% fully vaccinated and hospitalizations numbers are very small. We delivered the 2021 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 LGBT short
Best VR/360
Best Experimental
Best Sci-Fi / Fantasy
Best Women in Film
Best Horror
Best Fashion
Best Dance
Best Music
Best Animation (Student)
Best Student Post Graduate (M.A)
Best Student Under Graduate (B.A)
Best Film For Change
Best Community/Charity


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

2.) All entries must have been completed between 1st January 2020 and 1st June 2022

3. Digital marketing materials should be made available to be used for our marketing purposes by 1st June 2022

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 9th October 2022. 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 (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 3rd June 2022.


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 2022 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 2022 festival, and for other non-commercial uses related to the promotion of the 2022 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
  • Tom Brennan

    The team at BIFF made me feel so welcome. Met loads of great, supportive people, saw some incredible films. I shall definitely return!

    December 2021
  • Great festival, communication and programme are excellent! Thank you for screening 'Cuties'!

    November 2021
  • Bolton was an incredible festival to be part of this year. Adrian and Zoe run a beautiful, down to earth, filmmaker friendly festival that champions creative and diverse talent. So many opportunities arose from being at the various networking events and the films and masterclasses this year were outstanding. I cannot recommend this festival enough. See you next year!

    November 2021
  • Louis Norton Selzer

    Bolton is what all film festivals should be like: friendly, fun and full of good film. Adrian and Zoe (founders) are legends and really know how to give a warm welcome and have a laugh. They also know how to programme. Many film festivals are full of exhausting, pretentious drivel but Bolton strikes a really great balance between unusual, important AND ENJOYABLE. In addition to the selection, it also felt like real attention had been paid to how films were blocked and paced. Also, Adrian's award ceremony commentary is straight up hilarious. That on its own is worth the trip. Thanks for everything guys. Big love. x

    November 2021
  • Bolton was a top festival experience with an amazing selection of films. It was a great space to meet and connect with people, with Adrian making it feel very welcoming and personal. Well worth submitting and going!

    November 2021