Cheltenham International Film Festival 2019

Plans are well under way for the Cheltenham International Film Festival 2019, which will take place between 27 May and 1 June.

The event is directed by CFS member Leslie Sheldon and includes a competition for emerging filmmakers, screenings of early work by some well-known directors, and a a focus – this year – on Poland, a country with a great tradition of cinema. In addition, there will be masterclasses, panel discussions, talks, receptions, and a closing night awards dinner. Events will be held across Cheltenham, including at Cineworld, the Parabola Arts Centre, Princess Hall of Cheltenham Ladies College, the Wilson Gallery, Chapel Arts and the Frog & Fiddle.  The event’s website is at 


The competition includes sections for feature films and documentaries and will be judged by a panel of industry experts including Paul Ashton, head of film at Creative England, the legendary comedy writer Laurence Marks of “Marks & Gran” fame, producer/director Stephen Cookson, talent agent Pippa Markham, Phil Hunt of Bankside Films and actress Emma Samms.

The opening event of the Festival will be the UK premiere of Sometimes Always Never, directed by Carl Hunter and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce. It stars Bill Nighy, Sam Riley and Jenny Agutter and will be screened at Cineworld on the evening of 27 May.

On 30 May, there will be a screening of Mary Queen of Scots in the magnificent Princess Hall at Cheltenham Ladies College. The film’s director, Josie Rourke, will take questions from the audience. The polymathic Steven Berkoff will show his film Shakespeare’s Heroes and Villains and lead a discussion afterwards.

The tribute to Mike Leigh includes screenings of two much-loved early works, the BBC comedy Nuts In May and the gritty drama Bleak Moments, both selected by the director. He will be present for a question and answer session after the films.

There will also be a Country Focus. This year, the spotlight is on Poland. Jan Komasa, director of the 2011 classic Suicide Room, will introduce a showing of his film. He will be joined by other Polish directors and craftspeople.

Insights and Masterclasses

A programme of sessions for aspiring filmmakers will cover such topics as finance, distribution, special effects, scoring and makeup. The leading Polish cinematographer Piotr Sobocinski Jr, son and grandson of great lighting cameramen, will lead a session on the art of cinematography.

Get involved

The organisers of the CIFF are hoping to recruit interns and volunteers to help with organising and running the event. They are also eager to speak to prospective sponsors and donors. Please contact CIFF via its website: