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"I've always had a passion for short film whether it's drama, comedy or documentary. When my home town announced they were launching a film festival I welcomed their invitation to become a patron. Bolton Film Festival gives film-makers and actors in the area an opportunity to celebrate the talent in and around the town, to share their work to a wider audience and to meet industry experts and other film-makers from across the North West and across the UK. Manchester offers so much, but it's fantastic that Bolton now has an annual film event of it's own."

Maxine Peake - Festival Patron


Bolton Film Festival is a Community Interest Company with a non profit status, it is sustained through the generous support of sponsors, grants, donors and enthusiastic audiences.

Its aims and objectives are: 

1. To amplify emerging filmmakers and their films

2. To address the cultural shadow that falls over Bolton from the nearby city of Manchester
3. To nurture new talent through industry talks, mentoring and by signposting throughout the year to partner organisations, film funding, or in some cases to formal education.
4. To offer PAID & FREE film screenings, industry talks and events to the public, demystifying the world of film and breaking down the barriers and obstacles of an industry that many feel is difficult to access.
5. To develop new audiences for film and strengthen a year round cinema audience for cinemas and partner venues
6. To bring inward investment to the town by working with partners such as hotels, restaurants and bars to attract filmmakers, guests and audiences to their businesses.
7. To work with cultural partners across the year to make Bolton an attractive place to live and to work.

Bolton is home to the award winning Octagon Theatre, the Bolton Library and Museum and the Bolton Food and Drink Festival - an annual event that attracts over 400,000 visitors. A film festival is a natural companion to these existing cultural offers in Bolton. Celebrating films from home and abroad the festival acts as an amplifier of emerging and established talent. Through it's industry talks, masterclasses and networking sessions it aims to break open the door to a creative industry that many people find difficult to access and navigate.


In 2017 the festival began its journey as a small community arts project.

In 2019 the festival became part of the CE50 family, an award by Creative England which recognises "the achievements of 50 of the most exciting, innovative and disruptive creative companies and individuals across film, games and digital media."

In 2020 the festival gained accreditation to Section B of the BAFTA Qualifying Festivals List for the British Short Film award. 

British short films programmed at Bolton Film Festival and one other festival from Section B of the Qualifying Festivals List are eligible to enter BAFTA’s British Short Film award. For full rules and guidelines for BAFTA’s short film categories please refer to their official site.

In 2021 the festival gained BIFA accreditation, the British Independent Film Awards, highlight and reward the best, most innovative and creative independent filmmaking and filmmakers in the UK.

In 2022/23 the festival again picked up recognition for the "Top 10 Best Reviewed Film Festival" on FilmFreeway, from over 12,000 registered film festivals worldwide. 

The festival is now looking to build on these solid foundations by expanding its offer across the year. We have ambitions to put on quarterly screening events and regular industry talks throughout the year. We also want to work with schools more closely. We know that our industry is growing faster than most sectors in the UK and its an industry with clear skills gaps and job opportunities. We believe schools are the place to inspire and demonstrate a career in the Creative Industries is now a real and viable option. Bolton is ideally placed in proximity to Media City, the city and the Northern Powerhouse. Bolton Film Festival aims to assist emerging talent on their journey to careers in the region and further afield. 



"Out of all the festivals I have been to this one was definitely up there as one of my favourites. They had their own unique touches which really made the festival special. It was amazing to see our film in front of such a big audience and on such a big screen, it was HUGE. This festival has so much heart and the festival organisers are super professional and really care about the filmmakers. There passion shines through. Oh and the awards are SO nice."

Chris Overton - Oscar winning director


The F-Rating is applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women. If the film ALSO has significant women on screen, it receives a TRIPLE F-Rating, our gold standard. The rating allows audiences to “vote with your seat” and proactively choose to go and see F-Rated films.

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Sourced from the F-Rated website: "The stories we see on screen need to be told by a broad spectrum of people to represent our diverse culture. Without change, we will train the next generation to recognise only white males as the protagonists and the ones in control of the cameras, scripts and budgets. As well as equality on screen and behind the camera, more female film critics from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities need to be welcomed into the industry so that opinion and feedback is balanced. The gender pay gap is also evident in the industry. By helping women gain recognition we can empower them to negotiate the contracts and salaries they deserve and help close the gap.. "

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