To Submit or Not to Submit to a Film Festival? That is the Question.

Post production is over. Your film (baby), which you have poured your entire heart and soul into, is finally finished. You can breathe. BUT, it’s now time to ask yourself; ‘What’s next?’. A simple question but one that has the power to induce a tsunami of anxiety. To submit or not to submit to a film festival, that is the question.

After spending so much time, energy and money making your film, applying to film festivals can feel burdensome. Despite this, there are numerous reasons why you should take the plunge. Here are a couple to dwell on:

 The Chance to Show Your Film

If a tree falls and there is no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound? Probably. But that’s not the point. Without an audience to watch, listen and be inspired by your film, what was the point in making it? You’ve given everything to produce this film. So, you owe it to yourself to show it to the world.

Although, there is a small problem. However ground-breaking your film might be, the world, unfortunately, isn’t waiting for it. You need to go out and pave the way for your film’s success. And the best way to do this? Show your film at an international film festival and get the praise and recognition your film deserves.

 Be Discovered

Film Festivals give you the chance to be noticed. So many celebrated films started off at independent film festivals before rocketing into cult status. For example, Pulp Fiction, The Blair Witch Project, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? And I Origins all made their UK premiere at Raindance Film Festival, the UK’s largest independent film festival. Since its release, The Blair Witch Project, with an initial budget of $60,000, has now grossed an estimated $250 million worldwide. Now if that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is. For some directors, film festival debuts have made their careers. Take Xavier Dolan, for example. The Canadian Director received international acclaim for his directorial debut, I Killed My Mother, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival. He was 20. He’s now 29 and has since made multiple successful features (and has even directed the music video for Adele’s Hello!)It just goes to show – film festivals have the power to launch your career.

Community > Connect > Collaborate

Film festivals are a great way to meet new people. Like-minded people who love indie film (nearly) as much as you do. There are lots of opportunities to network or, if you prefer, just have a chat with a friendly face. Out of friendship, comes collaboration. There’s no better place to find filmmaker fanatics who will gladly jump into the black hole of independent filmmaking with you. Not only will you get to meet a host of collaborators, but you might also have the opportunity to meet sales agents who, fingers crossed, will have loved your film.

The moral of the story? Join the filmmaking community. Connect with fellow filmmakers. Collaborate.

Why Cheltenham International Film Festival?

Since the Festival of Performing Arts began in the 1920s, Cheltenham has been renowned for their growing number of festivals; music (1945), literary (1949), Jazz (1996), Science (2002) and now Film (2019). Apart from attracting celebrities and notable individuals from across the globe, Cheltenham festivals draw in crowds of hundreds of thousands every year. This may only be their first film festival, but boy, will it be a big one.

As a festival, CIFF is dedicated to discovering emerging talent from around the world. We want to support filmmakers who are early in their career and have an enduring passion for all things indie film. If successful, not only will you have the opportunity to attach the brand of ‘Cheltenham’ to your film, which is guaranteed to add a status of prestige to your film, but you will also have the chance to have your film screened at one of our many fantastic venues.

We’ve already attracted lots of big names who share a passion for indie film festivals and a general love of the city. Now all we need is you and your filmmaking talent. We can’t wait to see what you have in store for us.

Submissions are open. Click here to find out more. 

©  |  Cheltenham International Film Festival  |  2023