BFI launches £4m fund to support UK film festivals

The BFI Film Festival Fund will help boost choice for audiences across the UK, with up to £1m per year available to support regional film festivals and UK festivals with global reach.


The Angels' Share (2012)

The Angels' Share (2012)

The BFI today launches its Film Festival Fund, a key part of its Audience Fund which aims to help boost the film choices available to audiences across the UK – a central strategic priority for the BFI as set out in its five year vision, Film Forever.

The BFI has allocated £1m per year for up to four years (2013-17) to the Film Festival Fund. The fund will support a broad range of film festivals, from those with a local and/or specialised focus that serve specific communities through to UK festivals of national or international significance.

Tim Cagney, Deputy CEO of the BFI comments:

Today’s announcement marks the latest stage in the roll out of the BFI’s Film Forever five year plan and is an exciting prospect for audiences. We’re pleased to offer this support for film festivals as part of our strategic priority to enhance opportunities for UK audiences, enabling them to access a wide range of British and international stories which celebrate and reflect the rich diversity of life in the UK and beyond.

A key part of the UK’s cultural infrastructure, film festivals inspire audiences, artists, filmmakers and professionals alike. As such they have the potential to make a substantial contribution to the BFI’s strategic priorities for developing UK audiences and film talent.  

The BFI is keen to support a wide range of festival activity through its Film Festival Fund. It aims to foster greater sustainability within the sector and encourage new initiatives and ideas that incentivise film festivals to work together, and to engage with the film sector more widely through the opportunities offered by the BFI’s UK Audience Network. 

There are many film festivals held in the UK each year, ranging in size, ambition, focus and type – all of which, regardless of scale, can make a valuable contribution to the cultural, social and economic environment, both locally and more widely.

Festivals can apply to the BFI’s Film Festival Fund for varying levels of support depending on their scope and scale, with available funding ranging from £5,000 for a small regional festival up to £300,000 for a major festival which can demonstrate substantial international significance. The BFI will contribute around 20% to 50% of the costs of the festival with applicants required to demonstrate the amount of partnership funding they are able to secure (for example through sponsorship, other public or private funding, or earned income).

Through the £1m annual Film Festival Fund (2013-17), the BFI will support two categories of festival: 

  • Strand 1 (c. £500k per year): regional festivals catering principally to local/regional audiences, or with a narrower specialist theme that enables them to reach audiences from further across the UK. These festivals are likely to be smaller in scale, focused on audiences rather than industry, and not generally attracting industry delegation.
  • Strand 2 (c. £500,000 per year): UK festivals with an international or UK-wide reach and profile, which enhance opportunities for the UK film industry nationally and internationally and help increase audience choice.

The BFI Film Festival Fund is now open for applications from UK-based festivals taking place on or after 1 April 2013. Further information including guidelines for applicants, application forms and FAQs are available here.

More information about the BFI Film Festival Fund

As described in Film Forever, the BFI wants to encourage people to build a lifelong relationship with film, to help build audiences for a broader range of films across all platforms and ensure that film culture can be accessed and enjoyed by everyone across the UK. Our plans for 2013-17 contain a range of interlinked strategies to help us achieve these aims. At the heart of this strategy is the Audience Fund, a significant investment of £22 million over four years to boost audience choice across the UK. The four elements of this investment are: the UK Audience Network for Film, the Programming Development Fund, the Community Venues Fund, and this, the Film Festival Fund. 

As stated in the BFI Film Forever five year plan, from 1 April 2013 the BFI takes on responsibility for funding film festivals in England, when Creative England’s Film Culture team and resources transfer to the BFI.  Our partners in the nations – Creative Scotland, Film Agency for Wales and Northern Ireland Screen – each have dedicated film festival funds; therefore, the BFI Film Festival Fund will prioritise festivals based in England but where it is clear that funding from the BFI can add value we will also provide additional support for festivals based elsewhere in the UK.  

Please note that the BFI’s own film festivals: the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and the BFI London Film Festival will not be funded through this Film Festival Fund. As part of our plans, we will continue to support these festivals, but we will do so through the BFI and other resources.  

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