LGBTQ+ Festivals For Emerging Filmmakers

NETWORK investigates some of the most exciting, filmmaker-friendly events coming to you in 2019

7 June 2019
By Amy Clarke
Amy blogs about film careers, and formerly worked in the film industry

The presence of LGBTQ+ film festivals has grown remarkably across the UK since the 1970s, fuelled by the passion and drive of filmmakers and activists who are determined to give alternative representation the platform that it deserves. As well as increasing public knowledge on issues surrounding the queer community, these annual events also allow an inclusive space for filmmakers to experiment outside of mainstream cinema.

To find out more, I reached out to sociologist and steadfast advocate Dr. Christian Klesse, who kindly provided a range of upcoming festivals and showcases that celebrate and promote the best in LGBTQ+ cinema.

Bristol Pride – 1-14th July 2019

One of the standout events of the summer, Bristol Pride celebrates its 10th anniversary as largest free pride festival in the UK.

As well as a host of live arts events, the city centre will also play a series of film screenings from both established and emerging filmmakers.

Be sure to check out Queer Vision, where some of the boldest and brightest short films from across the world will play as part of the festival, and embrace themes of beauty, activism and reflection.

The Scottish International Queer Film Festival – 2 - 6th October 2019

Returning to central Glasgow, SQIFF prides itself on prioritising differently-abled access, providing visitors of all abilities with additional catering and screening options, and submission fee waivers for disabled and LGBTQ+ filmmakers. The festival is currently taking submissions, and you can find out how to apply here.

For Scottish filmmakers, SQIFF promotes a ton of events and workshops monthly, including local film funding and commission schemes such as LUX Scotland (which covers budget fees of up to £5000 for short films, produced and broadcast by BBC Scotland).

Shropshire Rainbow Film Festival – 4 - 6th October

For a smaller community feel, Rainbow has garnered a strong local following since its launch back in 2006, and showcases films that portray the lives, experiences and struggles of LGBTQ+ subjects. All towns should have a festival like Rainbow, which provides the community with the chance to see films from different cultures and viewpoints that they may not have the opportunity to see elsewhere.Additional screenings are held throughout the year to mark national events such as World Aid’s Day, Transphobia and LGBT History Month.

If you are a filmmaker, the festival hosts as a great place to mingle with local film crews and socialising meetups over the course of the weekend. You can still submit films to this year’s festival here.

Iris Prize Cardiff – 8 - 13th October

The biggest award ceremony for LGBTQ+ cinema, the Iris Prize is a BAFTA-qualifying film festival with the largest LGBTQ+ short film prize in the world. The ultimate prize winner receives £30,000 worth of funding to make their next short film (with a narrative surrounding LGBTQ+ subject matter), and the winner of the Iris Prize Best British Short also receives a sound and post-production service package, sponsored by Pinewood Studios.

For filmmakers, the event itself provides a huge networking space in which there are parties and meetups every night, plus the Producers’ Forum which welcomes industry professionals to share crucial advice on producing, marketing and distributing your film.

Outburst Queer Arts Film Festival – 7-16th November

Based in Belfast, this longstanding festival labels itself as being based in “arguably the most homophobic and transphobic region in Western Europe.” Over its 13-year-run, Outburst has led the way for creativity and providing a much-needed outlet for Ireland’s queer community.

This festival is an exciting alternative to an ordinary film festival, celebrating poetry, performing arts and films from the best new queer voices from around the globe. For filmmakers, Outburst can help with commissioning and developing projects that explore LGBTQ+ themes, and particularly support projects that take creative risks and challenge assumptions around sexuality and gender.

Queer Media Festival – November (official date TBA)

This innovative festival takes place in Salford, and supports the exploration of LGBTQ+ stories using new digital platforms. Showcasing virtual reality, augmented reality, gaming, and mobile filmmaking, the Queer Media Festival promises to deliver a creative mix of inspiring talks, performances, workshops and films.

The festival recently received funding from the Arts Council for an ambitious new virtual reality project that will be taking place this year, alongside lectures and practical workshops on mobile filmmaking and virtual reality.


Dr. Kless is running a free workshop on queer film festivals on Saturday the 29th of June at the Manchester Met. Find out more info here.