Films Screened in Competition:

At the heart of the festival is a competition to select the best feature films and shorts from emerging filmmakers.  Films are selected and curated by a team of selectors and programmers.  Submissions to the film festival may be made via The Festival will invite and welcome to Cheltenham the directors of films accepted in competition.  Filmmakers will have an opportunity to introduce their films, to take audience questions and to interact with other industry professionals, students of film, film enthusiasts as well as members of the public in the many venues, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels that are a feature of Cheltenham.

A jury of film industry professionals and leading figures from the arts will judge the films in competition. In 2019, the jury was praised for its composition which included film festival directors, writers, actors, film administrators and film directors, among them:  Paul Ashton, Head of Film Creative England; Stephen Cookson, Director; Laurence Marks, BBC comedy writer; former Dynasty Star, Emma Samms; ex-Director of Cornwall Film Festival, Donna Anton.  in 2020, we have already lined up directors, Carl Hunter and Jan Komasa, as well as BBC writer, Maurice Gran, to be on the jury with more to come.


In 2019, it was Mike Leigh.  In 2020, the Festival will pay tribute to two more cinema greats, recognised for their years of achievement in making films that represent the best of cinema film over the past 50 years.  During the tribute, the directors, who will be our special guests, will take Questions and Answers (Q&A) from the audience, offering an opportunity to get first-hand accounts of films that are considered classics.

An announcement will be made shortly.


In 2019, our “Country Focus” was Poland.  In 2020 Italy will be our “Country Focus”. European cinema has often been a cultural space in which filmmakers have explored, and audiences have engaged with key, contemporary socio-political issues. The Italian cinema of the 1940’s/1950’s speaks to this point. As Italian cinema begins to regain a position of importance, the Festival will seek out the best of emerging contemporary Italian filmmakers to showcase during the Festival.  

Special Film Screenings

The festival shall recognise the early work of actors and celebrities who have directed their first and/or second film and screen them, out of competition, during the festival.


Industry Panel

The Festival also plans to introduce panels of film industry professionals to discuss topical issues eg casting films in the age of inclusion and diversity; separating the art from the artist, should we continue to enjoy the works of Roman Polanski, Woody Allen and Kevin Spacey; Netflix v the film festivals, who is right?

Click the link below to find out more about last year's film festival and to take a look at the 2019 full festival programme.