Screenings are segmented into three distinct areas: New Direction, Applause and Country Focus:

  • New Direction: films from emerging directors, from all over the world, are screened in competition; many of them have achieved critical acclaim.
  • Applause: out of competition, the Festival pays homage to the legacy of cinema by screening the early films of celebrated directors. In 2019, the Festival will honour and pay tribute to Mike Leigh.
  • Country Focus: every year, Cheltenham International Film Festival will nominate a different “Country Focus” to showcase emerging directors from one country. Poland is our “Country Focus” in 2019; Polish directors such as Jan Komasa, director of the classic Polish film, Suicide Room, is coming to the Festival along with other filmmakers from Poland who have achieved global recognition for their work.


During the six days of the Festival, the organisers have planned a series of special attractions and focus events. 

The Festival opens with the preview screening of Sometimes Always Never on 27th May, with the director Carl Hunter and others in attendance.  On 30thMay, the Festival screens Mary Queen of Scots in the regal Princess Hall, Cheltenham, with the director, Josie Rourke, in attendance to take audience Q&A.   Steven Berkoff gives a masterful performance on the craft of acting in Shakespeare in the film Shakespeare’s Heroes and Villains; the legendary enfant terrible will take audience Q&A after the screening.

The selection and focus of films ranges from features in competition through to film shorts, from documentaries to a special focus on Polish films and filmmakers, from honouring celebrated directors through to screening first feature films of well-known actors and theatre directors   and from promoting and screening women filmmakers through to education of young and emerging filmmakers.

And there will be plenty of opportunities for all who participate and attend to exchange views and to enjoy the experience at opening and closing night receptions, networking events and at Festival bars located in leading Cheltenham hotels.

The Cheltenham International Film Festival

Competition Jury

The organisers are currently in discussion with other high profile industry personalities to join the jury.

Insight at The Festival


A programme for emerging/young filmmakers

The future of the film industry depends on filmmakers who are coming into the industry and/or who have started to make their impression with film shorts and early day feature films.

Insight at the Festival connects experienced filmmakers with young filmmakers on the threshold of a career in film;  exchanging knowledge, ideas, opinions via master classes, workshops, panel discussions, Q&A and talks. 

Insight sessions cover a range of film crafts and opportunities to gather knowledge and understanding about the business of independent film production.  Master Classes range from makeup, special effects and composing music for film to raising finance and getting your film sold and distributed.  

Among those taking part in the film craft sessions is the leading cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski Jr, who is coming from Poland, a country which has produced so many internationally-recognised and award winning Directors of Photography.  And, the family name of Sobocinski is synonymous Polish cinematography.

Among other speakers and participants taking part in Insight are well-established film industry professionals such as Alice Cabanas of the BFI, Phil Hunt MD of leading film company Bankside Films, Gail Egan, producer of The Constant Gardener, and Rich Warren, Festival Director of Encounters, advising on how to get the best out of film festivals.