Cheltenham International Film Festival celebrates its 5th anniversary in 2023 with a programme of film premieres and previews, special events, new festival themes and celebrity guests. This year we preview, among others, The Miracle Club with Dame Maggie Smith and Laura Linney, The Trouble With Jessica with Rufus Sewell and the Uk Premiere of The Old Oak, Ken Loach’s final film.
Since launch, the festival has screened and streamed the best of international cinema and welcomed celebrated names including: Polish Oscar-nominated director, Jan Komasa, Mike Leigh, Steven Berkoff and Dame Judi Dench. This year we have the pleasure to host Sir Stephen Frears and Ken Loach, among others, and now stand alongside Cheltenham's other prestigious arts festivals adding value to Cheltenham 'The Festival Town'
We are introducing television into the film festival with several events including celebrity panels and preview of the new BBC television series, Boiling Point. And, we have film screenings under the stars for the first time at different locations. Spain is our Country Focus with films such as On The Fringe, starring Penelope Cruz.
Cheltenham International Film Festival launched in 2019 and made an instant impact, screening over 40 films from 20 countries. We welcomed celebrated filmmakers including legendary, multi-award winning director, Mike Leigh; Oscar-nominated, Polish director, Jan Komasa; theatre/film director, Josie Rourke (Mary Queen of Scots); and actor, writer, director, enfant-terrible, Steven Berkoff, among others. We were joined by first-time features director, Carl Hunter, to introduce his opening night film, Sometimes Always Never, starring 2023 Oscar nominee, Bill Nighy.
2020 – what a year! Never to be forgotten. We were well into preparations when Covid struck. Overnight we had lockdowns. Cheltenham International Film Festival became the first international film festival in the UK to respond by streaming its entire programme online. The reaction was positive. The Festival opened with Lost Transmissions starring Simon Pegg. Simon was also on hand via Zoom to introduce his opening night film. That year many of the world’s filmmakers took part in the film festival answering audience questions after the streaming of their films.
The festival opened with a preview of the Oscar-winning film, The Father, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman. We were still bound by lockdown rules and continued to stream festival films through our new streaming service YourScreen https://watch.yourscreen.net. We marked the 50th anniversary of Stephen Frears’ first film, Gumshoe, with a special screening, accompanied by an interview with Stephen. We introduced a new category of award BEST FILM – open to emerging directors – won by I Never Cry (Piotr Domalewski).
Festival highlight was “An Afternoon with Dame Judi Dench” before a live audience. This was our first full season back as a live film festival and we also streamed films to give access to a wider audience. Following on from Poland and Italy in previous years, we nominated Ukraine as our Country in Focus. BEST FILM was the Swiss-Ukrainian film Olga by Elie Grappe. Ukrainian films were stark, realistic and hard, none more so than Rhino. Rhino’s producer, Dariusz Jablonski, spoke about the film in the absence of the film’s director Oleh Sentsov, who had exchanged the red carpet for the muddy fields of war.
Leslie Montgomery Sheldon: Festival Director
Freddie Holding: Director: Co-ordination & Logistics
Patrick Bliss: Producer/Head of Film Programme
David Saitch: Communications, Social Media & Special Events
Jacob Ward: Director of Operations
Martin Harris: Volunteer Co-ordinator & Special Events
Roz Jones: Director - planning & management
Ghislaine Agostini, Jeanette Blencowe, Jeff Downes, Robert Escott, Stephen Ilott, Caroline Lawrence, Steve Maynard, Clive Menzies, Gia Shin, Rebecca Trotter Pamela Weaver, Dan Wesolowski
Michael Ratcliffe (CEO Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce)
Laurence Marks (film & television scriptwriter)
Laurie Bell (CEO The Cheltenham Trust)
Simon Sheldon (Harper & Sheldon)
Nick Blackburn (ex- Chairman, Eventim UK)
Michael Chittenden (Owner, Manor By The Lake)