Cheltenham is a Regency town on the edge of the Cotswolds which draws tens of thousands of people to its famed festivals which include Performing Arts (1926), Music (1945), Literary (1949), Jazz (1996), Science (2002), Poetry (2011), Film (2019). Every Spring, the town attracts 250,000 visitors who attend Cheltenham Festival, one of the premier horse racing events in the world which features the Gold Cup.
Through the decades, the world’s leading filmmakers, actors, musicians, writers, artists, poets and respected figures from royalty, politics, science and even astronauts have come to Cheltenham: Mike Leigh, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Tony Curtis, Roger Daltrey, David Attenborough, Prince Charles, Salman Rushdie, Van Morrison, Michael Palin, Bob Geldof, former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, Hilary Clinton and Blondie singer, Debbie Harry, among them.
Cheltenham International Film Festival launched in 2019 and made an instant splash. Over 40 films from 20 countries were screened, many of which were world and/or UK film premieres. Celebrated filmmakers attended including: legendary director, Mike Leigh; Polish director, Jan Komasa, nominated for an Oscar in 2020 (Corpus Christi) and winning director at TriBeca 2020 (The Hater); Josie Rourke, director of Mary Queen of Scots; actor/writer/director, Steven Berkoff; Carl Hunter, who premiered his new/first film, Sometimes Always Never starring the popular actor, Bill Nighy; and many others. The Festival introduced master classes and workshops in cinematic arts which proved popular with young audiences.
In 2020, we were the first international film festival in the UK to stream its entire programme online to critical acclaim and commercial success. The programme included film screenings plus interviews and Q&As with filmmakers and actors from around the world, including our own Honorary Patron, Simon Pegg. In the event, we have decided to organise an annual online film festival to play alongside the ‘live’ event. By going online we shall extend our reach to audiences around the country with a complementary programme of new feature films and guest celebrity interviews.
The film festival operates under the auspices of Cheltenham International Film Trust. The Trust is a charity dedicated to translate artistic and creative values into social and economic benefits for the town.