Over six days, the Festival will host up to 45 events, including master classes, workshops, panels, talks, networking, parties/receptions and an awards evening reception to close the Festival on 1st June 2019.

The Festival opens on the evening of 27th May with the UK preview of Sometimes Always Never at Cineworld, Cheltenham, starring Bill Nighy along with Sam Riley and Jenny Agutter.  Director Carl Hunter will attend the preview and take audience Q&A.  And he may be joined by members of the cast.

From 27th May through 1st June, Cheltenham Film Festival will welcome emerging filmmakers, actors and film industry professionals to share a stage with other filmmakers and film enthusiasts, students of film and the general public, drawn from the local community and throughout the Cotswolds.

The Festival is focused on discovering and promoting new talent, screening in competition the films of emerging directors from all over the world.  Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony/reception to close the Festival.

The Festival will also pay tribute to great directors; in 2019, we honour Mike Leigh, one of Britain’s great directors.  And we will showcase the work of emerging and critically-acclaimed directors from Poland, who will be in attendance with their films.


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 Festival focus is on showcasing emerging filmmakers, in competition; categories include feature film, narratives and documentaries and film shorts, narratives and documentaries, as well as a people’s vote.   Films in competition will be judged by a jury of professionals: Paul Ashton, Head of Film at Creative England, Laurence Marks (BBC award-winning comedy writing team Marks & Gran), Stephen Cookson (film producer/director), Pippa Markham (Markham, Froggatt & Irwin), Phil Hunt, MD of Bankside Films and Emma Samms MBE (British actress of "Dynasty" fame). 

Screenings will take place in venues across Cheltenham, including: Cineworld, Parabola Arts Centre, Princess Hall (Cheltenham Ladies College), The Wilson Art Gallery & Museum, Chapel Arts, Frog & Fiddle pub, etc. 

In its tribute to Mike Leigh, and out of competition, the Festival will screen two of the director’s early films, Nuts In May and Bleak Moments;  both the personal choice of the director.  These screenings will be followed by Q&A with the director.

Among the Polish films screened during the Festival is the modern Polish classic, Suicide Room, directed by the talented Jan Komasa.

Our festival programme is now live. Take a look here.

The Cheltenham International Film Festival

Competition Jury

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


Leading film industry figures will participate in a series of master classes, workshops, talks and more, sharing their experience with filmmakers and members of the public, curious to learn more about the ‘magic’ of filmmaking.

The range of disciplines covered by Insight includes: the art and craft of makeup and special effects, costume design, composing for film and cinematography. All who attend these insight sessions will be given a ‘peek’ behind the scenes.  Filmmakers and budding writers with a film script in mind are invited to attend a workshop on scriptwriting.

Seasoned, award-winning film industry professionals, engaged in the business of film production, will share their knowledge on how to structure a production, how to raise money, where to raise money and how much to expect and all about film sales, film distribution. There will be words of advice from film festival directors.

Among the participants are: Phil Hunt, MD of Bankside and Head Gear Films, putting millions into feature film production,  Alice Cabanas of British Film Institute (BFI), Rich Warren of Encounters Film Festival, Gail Egan, leading film producer of films such as The Constant Gardener, Piotr Sobocinski Jr, from a long line of celebrated cinematographers, Laura Rossi, composer and lecturer in film music and Caroline Harris, costume designer for numerous film and television productions.


As a Regency town, located on the edge of the Cotswolds and within easy distance of London, Birmingham, Bristol and Bath, Cheltenham provides good access for Festival participants and audiences. Because the town hosts so many high-profile festivals, well attended by people from around the UK and beyond, there are many hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes to keep everyone happy. These include The Ivy, Brasserie Blanc and Julian Dunkerton’s 131 and No. 38 The Park. Cheltenham and the surrounding area are also home to well-known artists from cinema, music and the arts in general, who support the town’s many festivals.


Cineworld, Parabola Arts Centre, Princess Hall (Cheltenham Ladies College), The Wilson, Frog & Fiddle pub, Chapel Arts and more.


To see the full festival programme and to book tickets for the Cheltenham International Film Festival, click below.