IWM Short Film Festival FAQs

These relate to the 2017 Short Film Festival and will be revised for future years.


How do I submit?

Please read the information on our submit a film page, then complete the submission form.

Who can enter?

Anyone can enter. We especially encourage submissions from student and amateur filmmakers.

What’s the maximum film length?

30 minutes. Films submitted which are longer than 30 minutes will not be considered for the Festival.

How recently do films need to have been made?

Films should have been completed after 1 January 2013. Films completed before this date will not be considered for the Festival. Films which have been previously submitted to IWM Short Film Festival will not be considered for re-submission.

Do I have to use IWM collections in the film?

No, but the film must be inspired by IWM and its collections. We do, however, encourage filmmakers to use our collections. There will be a special award for the film that makes best use of IWM archive material. There are also discounts and a package of free material available for filmmakers who use IWM’s archive intending to submit their film to the Festival.

Does my film have to be about war?

No, our collections are incredibly varied. In the past we've had films submitted that have used black out film from the Second World War to explore the theme of astronomy, film covering the history of lidos and how rockets were developed.

What is the special category award?

IWM Short Film Festival is introducing a new special award category, the focus of which for 2017 is States of Emergency, to link with a new IWM London exhibition opening in October 2017. The festival therefore actively encourages submissions that link to this exhibition, by responding to war and conflict since the seismic events of 11 September 2001.

My film is anti-war, can I still enter?

Yes, we welcome varied submissions inspired by IWM and its collections.

For more information see our judging criteria.


When is the submission deadline?

The deadline for submissions is midnight on Friday 28 April 2017. Films should be uploaded to Vimeo, and submission forms must be received by that date.

IWM will contact all shortlisted entrants by Friday 28 July 2017. Unfortunately, IWM is not able to contact unsuccessful entrants. If you do not hear from us by 28 July 2017, please assume that your entry has not been selected.

Shortlisted entries will be required to submit a screening copy via memory stick by Friday 25 August 2017 if a screening copy is required.

How much does it cost?

It doesn't cost anything to submit your film to IWM Short Film Festival. However, all costs for film production and formatting are the responsibility of the entrant. IWM is not able to make any contribution to costs incurred to attend film screenings or the award ceremony.

Can I submit more than one film?

Yes, but you must complete a separate submission form and provide separate versions of the required materials for each film.

What are the categories for submission?

Films should be submitted under one, and only one, of the following categories:

  • Documentary
  • Creative response

There will be four additional awards:

  •  IWM Special Category: States of Emergency
  • Best Student Film
  • Best Use of IWM Archive Material
  • Audience Vote Award

For 2017 our new special award category is States of Emergency, encouraging submissions responding to war and conflict since the seismic events of 11 September 2001.

All shortlisted films will also be eligible for the Audience Vote Award.

I work at or am involved with a university/college/school/film society and need to submit a large batch of films, what do I do?

Email us at filmfestival@iwm.org.uk and we'll discuss the best plan.

Festival screenings

When and where will the films be screened?

Only shortlisted films will feature in the Festival which will run in the cinema at IWM London in November 2017. Shortlisted entrants will be contacted by Friday 28 July 2017.

A more detailed festival programme will be announced in October 2017.

There is the opportunity for a selection of films to be shown via IWM’s YouTube channel.

How many films get submitted and how many of these are normally screened?

For the Festival in 2016 we had 77 entries of which 26 were shortlisted and screened.

Do you show films that aren’t part of the competition?

All films that are submitted will be part of the Festival competition. Filmmakers will need to decide which strand they are entering for when they complete their submission form.

When will the winners be announced?

There will be awards in the following categories:

  • Documentary
  • Creative response
  • IWM Special Category: States of Emergency
  • Best Student Film
  • Best Use of IWM Archive Material
  • Audience Vote Award

Winners in the five judged categories will be announced at the start of the festival, at an awards ceremony held at IWM London in November 2017. The ceremony will be attended by the festival organisers and sponsors, the festival judging panel, professionals from across the film industry, shortlisted filmmakers, members of the press and other special invited guests.

The winner of the Audience Vote Award will be announced after the end of the screenings through IWM's digital channels.

How are winners decided?

See our judging criteria.

Winners in five of the categories are decided by panels of judges. Judging will take place shortly before the start of the festival. Winners and runners-up in these categories will be publically announced at the awards ceremony at IWM London in November 2017 at the start of the festival.

Screening audiences will be invited to rate the films they watch out of five. The film with the highest average score will be announced the Audience Vote Award winner.

Who are the judges?

The judging panel will be made up of professional filmmakers, IWM Film Archive staff and key people from the wider film industry.

Judges for the 2016 festival were:

  • Matt Lee (Director, IWM Short Film Festival)
  • Toby Haggith (Founding Director, IWM Film Festival)
  • Matimba Kabalika (NET.WORK Talent Co-ordinator and Content Editor, BFI Film Fund)
  • Edward Fletcher (Co-founder and Managing Director, Soda Pictures)
  • Richard Melman (Executive Producer, Spring Films)
  • Pamela Hutchinson (Journalist, The Guardian and silentlondon.co.uk)
  • Helen Mavin (Curator, Photographs, IWM)
  • Commodore Mike Beardall (Head of Communications Strategy, Directorate of Defence Communications, Ministry of Defence)
  • Dr Lawrence Napper (Lecturer in Film Studies, Kings College London)
  • Chris Harris (Programmer and Head of Virtual Services, Picturehouse Cinemas)
  • Jane Manning (Director of Production and Operations, October Films)
  • Dave Green (Senior Lecturer, Department of Media Arts and Production, University of Bedfordshire)
  • Barnaby Phillips (Journalist and Author) 

Using IWM collections

How do I access IWM collections?

You can explore a catalogue of over 600,000 items by using our collections search. There are a huge range of items, big and small, from aircraft down to shoes, photographs and films. Over 130,000 of them have digitised images, sound or video.

If you are looking for film specifically, please explore the IWM Film Sales Site.

Do I get a special rate for accessing IWM collections?

If you are just showing your film as part of the Festival and for other, non-commercial purposes, you only need to pay for transfer costs. Transfer rates will depend on what you want to use. Fill out a collections enquiry form for more information. If you want to use your film for commercial purposes you'll need to pay for a licence.

A package of six digitised IWM films are also available, free of charge, to filmmakers who intend to submit their film to the Festival. For further details, please contact: filmfestival@iwm.org.uk

More info

Can I view the films by the previous winners?

View some of the previous winners online.

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