Cambridge Film Festival

The Cambridge Film Festival is the third-longest-running film festival in the UK. The festival historically took place during early July, but now takes place annually during Autumn in Cambridge. It is organised by the registered charity Cambridge Film Trust.

Cambridge Film Festival
Cambridge Film Festival
Cambridge Film Festival logo
GenreFilm festival
Date(s)25 October – 1 November 2018
Years active43
Inaugurated1977 (1977)
Organised byCambridge Film Trust

Established in 1977 and re-launched in 2001 after a 5-year hiatus, the Cambridge Film Festival shows a range of UK and international films that debuted at leading film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival, as well as hosting UK premieres of films, alongside a broad range of specialist interest, archive, and retrospective strands. All films are open to the public to watch.

Each year the Festival awards audience awards to the Best Feature (The Golden Punt Award), Best Documentary (Silver Punt Award), and Best Short Film (Crystal Punt Award).


The Cambridge Film Festival is a celebration of film – past, present and future that prides itself on showing film from all over the world from all different kinds of filmmakers.

The Festival has a long running relationship with Woody Allen which has seen him offer the UK premieres of many of his films, including Crimes and Misdemeanors, Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine and in 2014, Magic in the Moonlight which marked Allen's 20th preview at the Cambridge Film Festival.

Other UK premieres at the Festival have included Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs in 1992, Pirates of the Caribbean starring Johnny Depp, and Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers with Bill Murray.

The Festival also has touring events across the Eastern region of England including Norwich, Ipswich and Ely. Notably in 2006 the Festival held an outdoors screening of A Cock and Bull Story at Felbrigg Hall, one of that film's shooting locations.

In 2006 the Cambridge Film Trust was launched, a new charity aiming to support and promote the film festival and film culture in Cambridge.

Festival Director Tony Jones
Bill Lawrence hosting a Q&A at 34th Cambridge Film Festival 2014





In 1977 the first Festival set the pattern for innovation, diversity and the emphasis on world cinema, with screenings of Kurosawa's DODESKA-DEN, Visconti's CONVERSATION PIECE and Rosi's ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES.

Originally based at the much loved single-screen Arts Cinema in Cambridge city centre's Market Passage, the Festival quickly developed from modest beginnings to become an important date in the international film festival calendar which would draw broad audiences from across the region and beyond. The Festival was originally conceived with a two-fold purpose: as a means of screening the very best of current international cinema; and to rediscover important but neglected film-makers and their films, which were either out of distribution or unseen for many years.


The second Cambridge Film Festival in 1978 hosted the UK Premiere of THE CHESS PLAYERS. It was the centrepiece of a Satyajit Ray retrospective and marks the establishment of the Retrospective Strand. The programme also included Rudolph's WELCOME TO LA, Jarman's JUBILEE and HARLAN COUNTY, USA.


The third Cambridge Film Festival in 1979 included the premieres of Ingmar Bergman's AUTUMN SONATA, Herzog's NOSFERATU and Altman's A WEDDING. 1979 also featured a Retrospective on the Polish filmmaker Andrzej Wajda.



At the fourth Festival in 1980, audiences saw the UK Premieres of Petit's RADIO ON, Roeg's BAD TIMING and Loach's BLACK JACK.


1981 marked the 5th Festival, and the first Festival with current Festival Director, Tony Jones, at the helm.

The Festival in 1981 screened a newly restored version of Gance's NAPOLEON, alongside a Bertrand Tavernier retrospective. It was also the first year to have 'away' screenings at the Arts Theatre in St Edward's Passage.


1982 saw a general widening of the Festival programme and hosted the UK Premiere of another Werner Herzog film, FITZCARRALDO.


In 1983, the 7th Festival hosted the Premiere Sayles' LIANNA. The Retrospective Strand was focused on Indian filmmaker Mrinal Sen.


In 1984, at the 8th Festival, Wim Wenders was in attendance to present his film PARIS, TEXAS. For the Retrospective Strand, the work of Volker Schlondorff was highlighted.


At the 9th Cambridge Film Festival Francesco Rosi introduced CARMEN to audiences as part of his retrospective. A second retrospective strand on Percy Adlon was also featured.


At the 10th Festival in 1986 a new print of Powell and Pressburger's GONE TO EARTH was screened. Other screenings that year included Mona Lisa, directed by Neil Jordan, and the film and TV work of David Hare.


In 1987 at the 11th CFF, Peter Greenaway presented THE BELLY OF AN ARCHITECT. This was part of a 'Made in Britain' programme which also includes a John McGrath retrospective.


The 12th Festival in 1988 had Jean-Claude Carriere as a Festival guest. THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING was the centrepiece of a Philip Kaufman retrospective.


In 1989 there were retrospectives on Robert Bresson and Working Title. There was also a tribute to John Cassavetes and a series of films to investigate the influence of Cahiers du Cinema, and Buster Keaton's SHERLOCK JNR.



At the 14th Festival, the Festival screened a Woody Allen film for the 5th time. In 1990 it was the premiere of CRIMES AND MISDEMEANOURS. The programme included a Pedro Almodovar Retrospective, and screenings of Malle's MILOU IN MAY alongside Stillman's METROPOLITAN.


At the 15th Festival, the Festival screened Premieres of Scott's THELMA AND LOUISE and the Coen Brothers' BARTON FINK. The retrospective in 1991 was of Monika Treut.


At the 16th Festival, there were the UK premieres of RESERVOIR DOGS and August's THE BEST INTENTIONS. Bruce Beresford and Agnieszka Holland attended retrospectives of their work, and there was a tribute to BFI film production.


At the 17th Festival, Peter Greenaway attended the UK Premiere of THE BABY OF MACON. Other titles included Sayles' PASSION FISH and Haas' THE MUSIC OF CHANCE.


At the 18th Cambridge Film Festival there was the premiere of the THREE COLOURS trilogy as part of the first ever full Kieslowski retrospective.


In 1995 at the 19th Festival, Jeunet and Caro attended the Premiere of THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. The Festival's centennial tribute to Buster Keaton contained his rarely seen final masterpieces THE CAMERAMAN and SPITE MARRIAGE. Two other retrospectives celebrated Patricia Rozema and Lars von Trier.


At the 20th Festival, French critic Michel Ciment introduced a French programme which included Audiard's A SELF-MADE HERO and Breillat's PARFAIT AMOUR. Greenaway's THE PILLOW BOOK Premiered and retrospectives featured Jack Cardiff and Jan Jakub Kolski.


After the 20th Festival in 1996, the Festival took a few years off.





The Festival launched with the UK Premiere of TALK TO HER and closed with the UK Premiere of David Cronenberg's SPIDER.

Other Premieres included BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, LOST IN LA MANCHA, GERRY, HEAVEN, and INTACTO. Alex Cox attended the Premiere of his REVENGERS TRAGEDY and Richard Harris makes one of his last public appearances at the UK Premiere of MY KINGDOM. Peter Wintonick attended a season of his work, and the Festival hosted tributes to Milos Forman, Tod Browning and Lon Chaney, and Darius Mehrjui.


Amongst 50 UK Premieres the Festival screened SPIRITED AWAY, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GOODBYE, LENIN!, TIME OF THE WOLF, ALL THE REAL GIRLS, BELLEVILLE RENDEZVOUS, WHALE RIDER and SPELLBOUND; Cate Blanchett and Joel Schumacher attended a special screening of VERONICA GUERIN, Jane Birkin presented MERCI DR REY, and Peter Greenaway attended the Premiere of his TULSE LUPER SUITCASES PART ONE: THE MOAB STORY. The Festival hosted the first UK Film Parliament, and held an Alexander Dovzhenko retrospective.


2004 Highlights amongst the Festival's 47 UK premieres included STAGE BEAUTY, BEFORE SUNSET, SUPER SIZE ME, CLEAN, COMME UNE IMAGE, COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, RIDING GIANTS, Spike Lee's SHE HATE ME, and Robert Lepage's THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON.

The Festival brought scores of international film-makers to Cambridge: Sir Richard Eyre launched the Festival at the opening night presentation of STAGE BEAUTY; Julie Delpy presented the closing night screening of BEFORE SUNSET; and Robert Carradine introduced the UK premiere of Sam Fuller's THE BIG RED ONE: THE RECONSTRUCTION.


A packed silver jubilee programme included UK Premieres of The Last Mitterrand; CRASH; BROKEN FLOWERS; Hayao Miyazaki's HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, introduced by the author of the film's source novel, Diana Wynne Jones; KING'S GAME; NIGHTWATCH; SARABAND; SILVER CITY (attended by director John Sayles); WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS - PUSHER 2 introduced by director Nicolas Winding Refn, who also curated a season of film's that have influenced his work; GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE; ENRON: THE SMARTEST GUYS IN THE ROOM; ROCK SCHOOL; and FOREST FOR THE TREES, alongside a Studio Ghibli season and a retrospective for the Russian silent director Dziga Vertov.


Two major additions to the Festival proved highly popular; an ambitious programme of free screenings introduced Artist's Moving Image work to new viewers, and the daily Festival Podcasts. In this year Volver won the Audience Award.


UK premieres included the opening night film LADY CHATTERLEY, ANNA M, THE WALKER and the latest film from Studio Ghibli, TALES FROM EARTHSEA. The festival closed with UK premieres of THE HOAX and THE 11TH HOUR. A season celebrating the best in New German cinema was once again curated by Monika Treut and eclectic shorts and documentaries including THE MAN WHO SHOT CHINATOWN and DELIVER US FROM EVIL contributed to the programme. Kenneth Branagh and Brian Blessed attended AS YOU LIKE IT.


In 2008 the Festival opened with Walter Salles' Linha De Passe, and Tilda Swinton was one of the guests for the UK Premiere of Julia.

The Retrospective this year was on Derek Jarman: Remembered season, and Hey Negrita play a live set in after a screening of the documentary We Dreamed America. Peter Greenaway attended a Q&A for his film Nightwatching.


A collaboration with the Festival and BAFTA brought: Michael Palin: A Life In Pictures where Mark Kermode interviewed Michael Palin at Ely Cathedral.

David Mitchell and Robert Webb were joined by writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, previewing an episode from the new series of Peep Show, showing clips of their favourite moments and taking the audience's questions.



In 2010 the closing night film was Made in Dagenham. Festival regular and film music master Neil Brand hosted a workshop about creating music for film, and director Stephen Frears took part in a career retrospective, as well as discussing his latest film, Tamara Drew. Also, The Dodge Brothers accompanied Neil Brand in soundtracking Beggars of Life.


Paddy Considine visited Cambridge to present his directorial debut, Tyrannosaur, and the Festival opened in style with a special preview of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In attendance were the director, Tomas Alfredson, screenwriter Peter Straughan, and two of the film's lead actors - Gary Oldman and John Hurt.


The centrepiece this year was season of a dozen Hitchcock films, stretching from his early silents to his peak period in the 50s and early 60s. Five of the most well-known titles – North by Northwest, Vertigo, Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie – were shown in brand new digital prints.


The 33rd Festival hosted the UK premiere of Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine and also screened Deadcat directed by Stefan Georgiou. Alongside his filmmaking, Stefan is currently one of the judges for Short Reel, the Student Filmmaker Award which has the winning film screen as part of the Festival each year.


The 34th Cambridge Film Festival ran from 28 August – 7 September.


The 35th Cambridge Film Festival ran from 3–13 September 2016.

Highlights included BBC Arena at 40: Night and Day 24 Hours, a 3-D special event with Brian May, and a BAFTA Kids workshop with Ben Shires and Katie Thistleton.

The Festival's opening films included Magic in the Moonlight which marked the 20th Woody Allen preview at the Festival, and the premiere of The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq


The 36th Film Festival's programme ran from 20 to 27 October.


The 37th Film Festival ran from 19 to 26 October. It opened with Battle of the Sexes and closed with Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here.


The 38th will run from 25 October to 1 November.

Film categories and strandsEdit

The Festival programme is divided up into strands. Some of these strands will reoccur each year, and others provide a special focus on a filmmaker for that year.

Opening Films StrandEdit

The Opening Film Strand is a recurring strand and includes the one or two films shown on the Opening Night

Main Features StrandEdit

The Main Features Strand is a recurring strand and includes all feature and documentary films not included in other strands

Retrospective StrandsEdit

The Retrospective Strands are reoccurring strands that highlight the work of an influential filmmaker.

Contemporary German StrandEdit

The Contemporary German Strand is a recurring strand that also includes Contemporary German shorts. The strand is designed to showcase established and new talent from new German Cinema.

Camera Catalonia StrandEdit

The Camera Catalonia Strand is a recurring strand to showcase Catalan cinema.

Short Fusion StrandEdit

The Short Fusion Strand is a recurring strand that showcases the best in contemporary short films from all over the world.

The Family Film Festival StrandEdit

The Family Film Festival is a recurring strand in the Cambridge Film Festival Programme that started in the 30th Cambridge Film Festival in 2010. The strand includes children's films, TV shows and workshops. Previous years have featured films such as: The Gruffalo, Frozen (2013 film) and Monsters University, as well as workshops in slapstick filmmaking, and a sneak preview of the 3D restoration of The Lion King in 2011.

Surprise FilmsEdit

The Surprise Films are films where the audience buys a ticket to the show without knowing anything about it. Previous Surprise Films included: Up!, Pirates of the Caribbean, A Cock and Bull Story, Burn After Reading, and Looper.

Retro 3-D StrandEdit

The Retro 3-D Strand in 2014 showcased the newly digitally restored 3-D classics from the '50s including The Creature From The Black Lagoon, House of Wax, Inferno, and The Mad Magician.

Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt AwardsEdit

Each year the Festival awards audience awards to the Best Feature (The Golden Punt Award), Best Documentary (Silver Punt Award), and Best Short Film (Crystal Punt Award).

2013 Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt Award winnersEdit

  • Golden Punt Award for Best Fiction Feature - The Forgotten Kingdom
  • Silver Punt Award for Best Documentary - Black Africa, White Marble
  • Crystal Punt Award for Best Short Film - Rhino Full Throttle

2014 Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt Award winnersEdit

  • Golden Punt Award for Best Fiction Feature - Monica Z
  • Silver Punt Award for Best Documentary - A Poem In Exile
  • Crystal Punt Award for Best Short Film - The Showreel

2015 Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt Award winnersEdit

  • Golden Punt Award for Best Fiction Feature - Bill
  • Silver Punt Award For Best Documentary - Streetkids United II: The Girls From Rio
  • Crystal Punt Award for Best Short Film - Group B

2016 Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt Award winnersEdit

  • Golden Punt Award for Best Fiction Feature - Chocolat
  • Silver Punt Award for Best Documentary - Future Baby
  • Crystal Punt Award for Best Short Film - Speechless by Robin Polák

2019 Golden, Silver & Crystal Punt Award winnersEdit

  • Golden Punt Award for Best Fiction Feature - Castle of Dreams
  • Silver Punt Award For Best Documentary - Streetkids United III
  • Crystal Punt Award for Best Short Film - Alina by Rami Kodeih


The Festival takes place in Cambridge's three-screened Arts Picturehouse, a local arts cinema run by Picturehouse. Since 2005 the Festival has expanded to take in other formal arts venues such as the nearby The Light Cinema Cambridge (Previously Cambridge Cineworld multiplex), arts venue The Junction, and Sawston Cinema, as well as interesting non traditional venues such as pedestrianised Cambridge streets, local churches and the colleges of the University. Some special outdoor screenings are held each year, most notably the Movies on the Meadows screenings at Grantchester Meadows shown on an inflatable screen.

Movies on the MeadowsEdit

Movies on the Meadows is one of the UK's largest outdoor screening events held at Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge. Over the August bank holiday weekend films screen on giant inflatable screens positioned on the banks of the river Cam. The films show simultaneously each night and audiences tune into their preferred film using a radio set and headphones.

Audiences can bring their own picnics or browse the varied food and drink on offer from local vendors.

Movies on the Meadows 2014Edit

Six Films, Three Screens, Two Nights, One River, Millions of Stars.[2]

Saturday 23 August 2014 was family themed and screened:

Sunday 24 August 2014 was sci-fi themed and showed:

Movies on the Meadows 2015Edit

Movies on the Meadows, the seventh year of annual screenings, was 29–31 August with a total of nine films shown.

Saturday 29 screened:

Sunday 30 screened:

Monday 31 screened:

Movies on the Meadows 2016Edit

Movies on the Meadows was 26–29 August.


  1. ^ "History of Cambridge Film Festival | Cambridge Film Festival". Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  2. ^ Movies on Grantchester Meadows

External linksEdit

Official sitesEdit

Other sitesEdit