UK Film Festivals 2023

January 6, 2023


The UK is home to some of the most exciting and anticipated film festivals each year. With festivals covering LGBTQ+ cinema to showcases of student films and short films, the dates criteria are starting to get released for the UK Film Festivals scheduled for 2023.

Festivals in the lineup include Glasgow’s Film Festival, London’s BFI Future Film Fest, the Norwich Film Festival, and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, among others. These events are exciting opportunities to get a first glimpse at the work of burgeoning cinematographers, directors, and screenwriters.

Keep reading as we discuss the locations, dates, and possible themes of 11 UK film festivals on the slate for 2023. When possible, we’ll share details about important entry factors. Without further ado, let’s get into the list! Make sure to check back as we’ll update the list where possible!

Top UK Film Festivals 2023

Today, we’re highlighting details of the following 11 UK film festivals, including short film fests, documentary fests, and more.

  • Pennine Film Festival (Accrington)
  • London Short Film Festival (London)
  • United Kingdom Student Film Festival (Canonbury)
  • BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival (London)
  • London Film Festival (London)
  • BFI Future Film Festival (London)
  • Norwich Film Festival (Norwich)
  • Open City Documentary Festival (London)
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival (Edinburgh)
  • Sheffield DocFest (Sheffield)
  • Glasgow Film Festival (Glasgow)

Pennine Film Festival  

The Pennine Film Festival has been one of North West England’s leading independent film festivals since 2006.

  • When? March 22-25, 2023 (February 1/March 1 submission deadlines)
  • Where? Accrington, Lancashire (multiple venues in Lancashire)
  • What? Short Films (up to 15 minutes)

London Short Film Festival

Another short film festival, the LSFF has been around since 2003 for independent and internationally-regarded films. Participants often create BAFTA-eligible short films, and the festival is supported by various UK media and film outlets.

  • When? January 20-29, 2023
  • Where? London (various venues)
  • What? Short Films (up to 45 minutes)

United Kingdom Student Film Festival  

The UK Student Film Festival is part of a group of curated film fests that includes the UK Music Video Festival, the 1 World Student Film Festival, and others. Categories range from horror student short to student shorts by continent, experimental student short, and filmmaking skills.

  • When? June 10, 2023 (December 5, 2022; January 2, 2023; January 30, 2023; March 3, 2023 deadlines)
  • Where? London (The Hen ; Chickens Theatre Bar)
  • What? Short Films and Music Videos (up to 30 minutes maximum in certain categories)

BFI Flare

Flare is the UK’s biggest UK and international festival event that showcases LGBTQIA+ cinema. It’s put on by the British Film Institute and is funded by the UK Government.

  • When? March, 2023 (dates TBA); December 21, 2022 submission deadline
  • Where? London (usually at BFI Southbank)
  • What? UK and International Short Films (up to 40 minutes) and feature-length films (40+ minutes)

London Film Festival  

The BFI London Film Festival is another one funded by the UK gov’t with hundreds of films showcased in animated, short film, and other categories. It’s both a UK and International Film Festival.

  • When? October 4-15, 2023 (estimated)
  • Where? London (various venues)
  • What? Short Films and Feature-Length Films

BFI Future Film Festival

In addition to the London Film Festival, BFI puts on an annual Future Film Festival, which has been around for 13 years. It’s dedicated to short films made by emerging, young filmmakers.

  • When? January-February, 2023 (exact dates TBA); deadline already closed
  • Where? (BFI Southbank)
  • What? Short Films (up to 10 minutes) by filmmakers aged 16-25

Norwich Film Festival

Norwich Film Fest is another short film festival accepting local, national, and international submissions. The festival has qualifying accreditation with both BAFTA and BIFA.

  • When? November, 2023 (exact dates TBA); submissions haven’t yet opened
  • Where? Norwich
  • What? Short Films (up to 25 minutes)

Open City Documentary Festival  

One of London’s biggest documentary festivals, this festival for nonfiction filmmakers is an experimental showcase that has been around for 13 years.

  • When? September 6-12, 2023 (submission deadlines January 13/April 14/May 5, 2023)
  • Where? London (various venues)
  • What? Short-, Mid-, and Feature-Length Nonfiction Films; Cross Platform Projects; Short Audio Documentaries

Edinburgh International Film Festival

Scotland’s capital city is home to an international film festival that was inaugurated in 1947. The festival helped to establish such notable filmmakers as Ingmar Bergman and Danny Boyle.

  • When? Usually in August (August, 2023 TBA), submissions haven’t opened yet
  • Where? Edinburgh, Scotland
  • What? UK and International Films in all genres and all lengths

Sheffield DocFest

The Sheffield DocFest is approaching its 30th edition in 2023. The festival showcases documentary works from all around the world by independent, established, and emerging filmmakers alike.

  • When? June 14-19, 2023
  • Where? Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England (various venues in city centre)
  • What? Documentary and Nonfiction Films of all lengths

Glasgow Film Festival

Last but not least, we had to mention the Glasgow Film Festival - one of Scotland’s leading film showcases that has featured films like Crazy Heart and Lipstick Under My Burkha.

  • When? March 1-12, 2023 (submissions now closed)
  • Where? Glasgow, Scotland
  • What? Feature Films and Documentaries (60+ minutes)

Final Thoughts - UK Film Festival 2023

We hope our guide to the UK Film Festivals 2023 line up has given you some ideas of where to find the best new cinema, including documentaries, shorts, animations, and more.

From the Glasgow Film Festival to the BFI festivals, Norwich Film Festival, Pennine Film Festival, and more, there are plenty of venues to catch the work of emerging filmmakers and established artists alike.

Make sure to stay tuned for more information regarding event dates and venues.