Scotland has been an incredible, scenic backdrop for a lot of iconic blockbusters on the big screen throughout the years. But did you know Scotland is also home to a wealth of new and up-and-coming film festivals? As well as the popular classics, these festivals showcase some incredible talent, directing and acting across many genres and topics.
Here is just a flavour of some of the film festivals you can get involved in throughout the year:
- Manipulate Festival, Summerhall and The Studio, Edinburgh; 31 Jan – 8 Feb 2020
Join in a dynamic and captivating programme of events which boasts the undeniable talent of over 40 leading international and Scottish-based theatre artists and animators.
Good for: anyone who loves a bit of animation.
- Banff Mountain Film Festival, various venues; 18 January – 25 February 2020
A popular one in the film festival calendar; Banff is back in 2020 at venues in Pitlochry, Stirling, Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Get ready for an educational week of short films covering a range of topics, interest, and themes.
Good for: lovers of the great outdoors.
- Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival; 15 – 16 Feb 2020
Returning for its 16th year, the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival is bringing a whole host of inspiring films and knowledgeable speakers, as well as a photography competition to get involved in too! Speakers for 2020 will be announced soon, so keep an eye out!
Good for: those who want to learn a thing or two!
- Fort William Mountain Festival; 19 – 23 Feb 2020
A favourite amongst locals and visitors alike, the Fort William Mountain Festival returns again in 2020 for another weekend of fantastic workshops, educational films, exhibitions, talks and more. Stay tuned for more details!
Good for: people who want to get hands-on.
- Glasgow Film Festival; 26 February – 8 March 2020
A well-known occurrence in the film festival calendar, 2020 will see a range of creative talent return to Glasgow’s venues. The festivals’ programme will of course out-do itself again, showcasing moving image, classic retrospectives and educational events for young people.
Good for: the big blockbuster hits!
- Glasgow Short Film Festival; 18 – 22 March 2020
Awarded one of MovieMaker’s 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World 2019, this is definitely a must-visit festival. Comprising international and Scottish talent, this friendly and inclusive festival showcases emerging filmmakers and ground-breaking work.
Good for: the big-hitters!
- Silent Film Festival, Hippodrome, Falkirk; 18 – 22 March 2020
Scotland’s first and only festival of silent cinema is back in 2020. Returning to Scotland’s oldest cinema, The Hippodrome, this film festival brings together old classics dating back to the 1920s, as well as having previously featured Rob Roy (1922) and Laila (1929) in 2019.
Good for: the good ol’ classics.
- Dead by Dawn, Edinburgh; 23 – 26 April 2020
Welcome to Scotland’s international horror film festival, featuring all the weird and wonderful films you might not know about! Showing you unforgettable stories and memorable sights, from amazing premieres and rare classics, to short bite-size films, this one is a must-see!
Good for: thrills, spooks, and spine-chilling horror!
- Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Scottish Borders, 30 April – 4 May 2020
Back for its 10th year, the Alchemy Film Festival graces the Scottish Borders with a year-round programme, featuring exhibitions and an internationally renowned annual film festival. Prepare yourself for a mesmerising 10 installations, cinema performances, short-film programmes, a filmmakers’ symposium and the popular final-day film walk.
Good for: experiencing a wealth of art and culture.
- Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival, Scotland-wide; 4 – 24 May
One of Scotland’s most diverse, cultural events, this film festival covers everything from music, film, art, dance and literature, all whilst raising awareness of mental health. The festival is a truly incredible one to add to your list, and in recent years has grown to be one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world! Stay tuned for more programme information.
Good for: addressing important topics, becoming a community, and raising awareness.
- Edinburgh International Film Festival; 17 – 28 June
This one needs little introduction – the world’s longest continually-running film festival is back for another year! Each year over 400 media reps and 1300 filmmakers grace a variety of creative venues across Edinburgh to showcase their outstanding talent and drive for the world of media and film.
Good for: all your new favourites.
- Loch Ness Film Festival; 24 – 25 July 2020
Get ready to experience a range of captivating films; short, features, documentaries, previously released films and everything in between will be making an appearance at this popular annual film festival. Back for its 10th year in 2020, stay tuned for an exciting line up of film submissions!
Good for: the millennials.
- Beyond Borders Film Festival; 29 – 30 August 2020
Based in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders, this non-profit organisation is dedicated to creating a vibrant international platform which aims to break down the barriers between people and encourage cultural exchange, dialogue and understanding. Join in a fantastic programme of screenings, art, music, visual arts, workshops, food and drink and much more.
Good for: the cultural enthusiasts.
- Screenplay Film Festival, Shetland; Dates TBC
This annual 10-day festival showcases a fantastic variety of drama, comedy, adventure, documentaries and family-friendly films from across the world, as well as hosting special events and remarkable guests. Keep an eye out for 2020’s dates and program details releasing soon!
Good for: an island experience.
- International Ocean Film Festival, Edinburgh; 12 September 2020
Prepare yourself for a night of seafaring adventure and mesmerising marine life when this eclectic film festival returns to Edinburgh. 2020’s Ocean Film Festival World Tour will feature the latest and best ocean films from across the globe. Stay tuned for an amazing programme of films coming soon!
Good for: the ocean lovers.
- Take One Action! Film Festivals; 16 – 27 September 2020
Explore a variety of screenings which aim to nurture stories, ideas and questions through educational and inspiring films. Each year the festival welcomes over 5,000 audience members, a 12-day festival in Edinburgh and Glasgow, two weekend festivals in Aberdeen and Inverness, a host of local film clubs, and a series of screenings, talks and educational opportunities.
Good for: social change, sustainability and a world outside Scotland.
- Hebrides International Film Festival, Isle of Lewis; Dates TBC
Taking places across the Outer Hebrides each year, this fantastic film festival is full of screenings, masterclasses and events across creative venues and pop-up locations. The dates and programme for 2020’s festival will be released soon, but will no doubt impress yet again!
Good for: a bit of everything!
- Document Film Festival, Glasgow; Dates TBC
An incredible international human rights documentary film festival, this one not to miss. Since 2003, the festival has screened over 600 films centred around touching topics such as women’s rights, war, conflict, racism, LGBT rights, environmental concerns, mental health and much more. Stay tuned for more information!
Good for: an informative and educational experience.
- Discovery Film Festival, Dundee; Dates TBC
Welcome to Scotland’s International Festival for Young Audiences. Back again for 2020, this festival will see a host of incredible showings, events, workshops, opening galas and much more to get involved in. Keep an eye on their website for more details releasing soon!
Good for: the young ones.
- Africa in Motion Film Festival, Glasgow & Edinburgh; Dates TBC
This annual film festival takes places in Edinburgh and Glasgow for over a week of film screenings, immersive events and more. The AiM festival showcases a whole host of African films and movies whilst catering to a varied and diverse audience from across Scotland and further afield, bringing together like-minded people for a fantastically cultured event.
Good for: culture and diversity.
- Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF), Glasgow; 14 – 18 October
Back again in 2020, this inclusive festival celebrates everything and anything on the queer film festival scene, with a fantastic program of educational events and screenings. Since 2015, this not-for-profit organisation has been showing movies and films that people might not otherwise get a chance to see, as well as creating inspiring and informative events that help to challenge inequalities and barriers.
Good for: diverse culture, and LGBT+ friendly.
- Edinburgh Short Film Festival; Dates TBC
Devoted to screening a range of short films from across Edinburgh, this festival is great if you’re looking to scope out local talent. This up-and-coming festival has hosted all sorts of films since 2011, from the first film made in Somalia in 20 years, to Oscar nominated shorts from Australia, the USA and Ireland, as well as short films smuggled out of China and Iran. This festival’s roots are in Edinburgh, but it has showcased film-makers and directors from across the world, including China, Russia, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and all over the UK.
Good for: the quirky, independent short films.
- Dundee Mountain Film Festival; 26 – 28 November 2020
The Dundee Mountain Film Festival is the UK’s longest continuous running mountain film festival and boasts an impressive showcase of international speakers, award-winning films, and educational exhibitions. Come along for an immersive weekend featuring art exhibitions, photography displays, trade and organisation stands to explore.
Good for: the outdoor enthusiasts!
- Inverness Film Festival; Dates TBC
Showcasing a selection of feature and short films from countries including France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Bosnia, South Africa, Germany, Denmark and more, immerse yourself in this festival which celebrates both similarities and differences across the world. With themes and topics such as climate change, war, crime, class and gender, it is set to be an educational and inspirational festival.
Good for: those who love diversity and culture.
- Dunoon Film Festival; Dates TBC
Back for its eighth year, Dunoon Film Festival prides itself on presenting films in unique ways. Previously showcasing live musical accompaniment, a lively sing-a-long, and a one-of-a-kind immersive tour in previous years, keep your eyes peeled for nothing less than extraordinary in 2020.
Good for: those who like a bit of everything.
That was just a taster of the wealth of incredible film festivals Scotland has to offer. Explore more film festivals across Scotland, uncover more of our arts and culture festivals, or book a city break to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about.