The BFI Film Export Fund awards funds from the National Lottery to help British films make sales abroad when they’re selected for eligible international festivals.

The fund aims to help sales agents maximise a festival selection through: 

  • enhanced publicity and/or marketing activity 
  • assisting with the technical and logistical costs involved with a high-profile festival appearance

In doing so the fund aims to:

  • increase opportunities for international sales and distribution of British films
  • promote UK film and talent internationally

Eligible film festivals

A film must be selected by one of the following film festivals to be eligible for consideration for a Film Export Fund award:

  • Amsterdam International Documentary Festival
  • Annecy International Animated Film Festival
  • Beijing International Film Festival
  • Berlin International Film Festival
  • Busan International Film Festival
  • Cannes Film Festival
  • Doc NYC
  • Fantastic Fest
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival
  • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
  • Locarno Film Festival
  • BFI London Film Festival
  • Rotterdam International Film Festival
  • San Sebastian Film Festival
  • Sitges International Film Festival
  • SXSW Film Festival
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Telluride Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • Tribeca Film Festival
  • Venice Film Festival

Additional information for COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BFI is currently operating on reduced hours. Please accept our apologies for any delay this may cause to the response times detailed in the fund guidelines.

See our COVID-19 information for the latest advice or contact us with any questions at covid-19.queries@bfi.org.uk.

Awards that we fund

The maximum award per eligible film is £15,000.

Film Export Fund support cannot exceed 50% of the total anticipated eligible costs to be incurred directly by the applicant. For example, if the total eligible costs are £10,000 and third party funding sources contribute £4,000, the Film Export Fund award may support up to £3,000 (which is 50% of the remaining £6,000 of eligible costs).

An award from the fund can be used towards, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:

  • subtitling costs and/or production costs of subtitled prints or digital cinema packages (DCPs) for use at the festival
  • DCP transport costs
  • a contribution to reasonable travel and accommodation costs to the festival for key talent essential to the promotion of the film (when not covered by the festival)
  • public relations activities at the festival
  • marketing and promotional items specific to the film’s inclusion at the festival

Examples of ineligible costs include:

  • costs relating to the sales agent’s own attendance at the festival
  • daily expenses (per diems)
  • trailers and/or general company promotional materials, even if related to company attendance at the festival
  • events such as drinks or dinners

Who can apply

Check that your application meets the following criteria:

  • the film is intended for theatrical release and is at least 60 minutes in length
  • the film has a production budget of £8 million or less
  • the film is capable of qualifying for certification as a British film
  • the film has been placed in an official category/competition at an eligible festival, which will constitute an international, North American or European premiere
  • the application is being made by the sales agent representing the film or you are the producer of the film and have attached a formal sales representative
  • the sales agent representing the film will be attending the festival

An eligible film can only receive a maximum of 2 awards from the fund.

Our funding priorities

The BFI’s assessment of your application will take into account the following criteria:

  • the quality of the marketing and sales strategy for the film at the festival, demonstrating how the festival will help generate sales
  • the proposed expenditure for the film at the festival and whether this represents value for money
  • the source, availability and extent of other income to meet the budget
  • sales to date
  • the degree to which the above activity contributes to the overall fund aims

The assessment process will also take into account how you have managed any previous BFI funding.

What you need to provide

For your application you will need to submit:

  • written evidence of the film’s eligibility and its official selection for an eligible festival, and details of the film and festival
  • the film’s duration and production budget
  • details of the anticipated eligible expenditure incurred while promoting the film at the festival
  • details of all anticipated subsidies, grants and other funding provided to the film at the festival, including any costs to be met by the festival
  • details of the proposed marketing and promotion plan at the festival
  • a copy of the sales representative’s agreement in relation to the film if there is no sales agent attached and the application is being submitted by the film’s producer

If successful you will later need to submit a post-participation form, detailing:

  • sales data
  • an analysis of expenditure against budget for the eligible festival
  • promotion data

Apply for funding

If this is your first application, please create an account.

Read the BFI Film Export Fund guidelines before making an application.

If you wish to see the online application format before applying, please download the application preview.

Normally, applications should be submitted no later than 20 working days before the official start date of the eligible festival.

The BFI’s Film Fund will make recommendations to the BFI’s Lottery Finance Committee as to which applications it wishes to support. The BFI may undertake a due diligence assessment of the applicant.

If a funding application for a project is unsuccessful, it cannot be resubmitted.

If you have any questions relating to the fund or application, please contact fef@bfi.org.uk.

We can provide assistance to applicants who have a disability, are D/deaf, have a visual or hearing impairment or are neurodiverse, where this support is needed for someone to make an application. See Access support for BFI Film Fund applicants.