IWM Short Film Festival FAQs

These FAQs cover the 2016 Short Film Festival. They will be revised for future years of the festival.


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 2012. Films which have been previously submitted to the 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 and this year there will be a special award for the film that makes best use of IWM archive material.

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.

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

Yes, we welcome varied submissions. For more information see our judging criteria.


When’s the submission deadline?

The deadline for submissions is midnight on Wednesday 30 September 2015. Films should be uploaded to Vimeo, and submission forms must be received by Wednesday 30 September 2015. Shortlisted entries will be required to submit a screening copy via memory stick by Monday 21 December 2015. IWM will contact all shortlisted entrants by Monday 30 November 2015 if a screening copy is required. Unfortunately, IWM is not able to contact unsuccessful entrants. If you do not hear from us by Monday 30 November, please assume that your entry has not been selected.

How much does it cost?

It doesn’t cost anything to submit your film to the 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 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

This year there will also be special awards for the best film made by a student and the film that makes best use of IWM archive material. All shortlisted films will also be eligible for the audience vote.

How do I submit?

  • Make sure your film conforms to the technical specifications below
  • Upload your film privately to Vimeo and paste the URL and password on the submission form
  • Complete the submission form on the IWM website
  • You must include a still from your film (landscape format, minimum height of 50 mm or 591 px, resolution 300 dpi)
  • Shortlisting will take place between 30 September 2015 and 30 November 2015
  • If your film is shortlisted you will need to provide a screening copy on DVD or memory stick. You will need to provide this by Monday 21 December 2015
  • The file name should contain only the full name of the film, in capital letters with underscores between words (no spaces)
  • It is the responsibility of the film maker to ensure this complies with the technical specification. Failure to comply will mean IWM are unable to screen the film

What format do you accept films in?

  • Films must be rendered with H.264 video codec with a .mp4 wrapper/file extension
  • Films should not exceed 32mbps
  • Aspect ratio should be 16:9 (1920:1080)
  • All subtitles must be embedded
  • Max file size is 10 gigabytes

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 will my film be screened?

Only shortlisted films will feature in the Festival which will run at IWM London on the following dates in 2015:

  • Friday 26 February to Monday 7 March 2016

A more detailed festival programme will be announced in February 2016.

When will I find out if my film has been selected and when it will be screened?

Successful entrants will be contacted by Monday 30 November 2015. The full programme will be released in February 2016.

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

For the Festival in 2014 we had 113 entries of which 35 were 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.

What are the prizes?

There will be awards in the following categories:

  • Documentary
  • Creative response
  • Best student film
  • Best use of IWM archive material
  • Winner of the audience vote

The winner of the best student film will win an internship with October Films. All films indicated on the entry form as being made by students, in full or part-time education, will be entered into this award. Films must be made whilst the filmmaker was a member of an educational institution.

The winner of the best use of IWM archive material will receive £5,000 worth of archive and restoration work within Prime Focus, which could include: film prep and cleaning, telecine, scanning, restoration, duplication and encoding. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held at IWM London on 21 March 2016, attended by the Festival organisers, professionals from the industry, the judging panel and filmmakers from the Festival.

How are winners decided?

Judging will take place during the Festival. Winners and runners up will be publically announced at the award ceremony at IWM London on Monday 21 March 2016.

Prizes include £5,000 worth of archive and restoration work at Prime Focus.

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 2014 festival were:

  • Richard Melman (Film producer, Spring Films)
  • Don Boyd (Director and producer)
  • Matt Lee (IWM Short Film Festival Director and Curator, IWM)
  • Toby Haggith (Founding Director and Senior Curator, IWM)
  • James Taylor (Assistant Director Narrative and Content, IWM)
  • Martin Rogers (Archive and Restoration Specialist, Prime Focus)
  • Jane Manning (Director, Production & Operations, October Films)
  • Sally Angel (Angel TV)

What are the judging criteria?

General points

Production values, while important, are not the most important consideration when judging the films, we welcome films from first time, student and amateur filmmakers.

Originality of subject matter – the Judges will be looking out for less well known content and stories.

Submissions should use IWM collections or should be based on our subject matter in its broadest sense (doesn't need to be about IWM subject matter if it uses IWM collections and vice versa). IWM tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people's lives.

The Judges will consider how the films:

  • Use archive material ethically
  • Tackle the subject matter objectively
  • Make historically accurate use of source material
  • Make sensitive treatment of material and subject matter


The Judges will be looking for:

  • A factual approach or using factual accounts
  • Historical accuracy
  • Balanced approach to the subject matter
  • Challenging or imaginative approach to the subject matter
  • Films don't have to be in a standard documentary format
  • Coherence

Creative Response

The Judges will be looking for:

  • Artistic merit
  • Challenging more formal ideas of filmmaking in content and structure
  • Compelling ideas and conceits
  • Clever or imaginative use of archival material
  • Quality of script and plot

Best use of IWM archive material

Film must contain collections held by IWM, such as: film, photographs, sound, art, exhibits. The Judges will be looking for:

  • Historically accurate use of archive material
  • Innovative and creative use of archive material
  • Employment of rare or unusual archive material
  • Intelligent and sensitive use of archive material
  • Archive material is key to the success of the film
  • Does the film broaden or deepen our understanding of the subject

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 items from aircraft down to shoes, photographs and films. Almost 90,000 of them have digitised images, sound or video.

If you’re just looking for film, try 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.

More info

Can I view the films by the previous winners?

View some of the previous winners online.