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Sheffield Film Festivals

Sheffield Film Festivals: Many people talk about Sheffield as a ‘festival city’ and having a look at the annual summer calendar, it’s not difficult to see why. There are festivals for entrepreneurs (MADE), comedy (Last Laugh Comedy Festival), creative writing (Off The Shelf), metalwork (Galvanize), children (Sheffield Children’s Festival), thinking/being clever (Festival of the Mind) music (Tramlines) and many, many more. Sheffield is a great city for festivals because it is home to great people who revel in the opportunity to get together and celebrate common interests. It may also be to do with our central location and accessibility within the UK, the famed ‘DIY’ mentality of the population (leading to innovative events being launched and evolving into festivals) or many other factors to do with infrastructure and facilities, talent and knowledge.

In a list of festivals in Sheffield, the moving image seems to come out on top. There are more festivals devoted to film here than to any other subject. Let’s take a look at some of these. Have you heard of them all? Have you been to them all? If not, why not? Hey? Hey?


One of, if not the, biggest festival to have its home in Sheffield. It’s been around for twenty years and attracts a host of international documentary film industry players as well as documentary fans to its doors. It hosts copious numbers of workshops, discussions, parties and pitching sessions about anything and everything to do with factual film, television and digital media. What’s more, through out the year they have loads of programs and workshops which can also be attended.

Doc/Fest website

Sheffield Fringe

Held around the same time as Doc/Fest, Sheffield Fringe is another vehicle for documentary and factual film makers but this time with a specific focus on artists’ film and video. The organisers are passionate about personal moving image works and installations and show pieces from both local and international filmmakers.

Sheffield Fringe website


Sensoria, also based in Sheffield, is the UK’s leading festival to connect film and music and explore the many intersections between the two for both professionals (via their industry day) and music/film fans. It offers screenings, workshops, talks, exhibitions and events. They’re notorious for using quirky venues and innovative technologies for their program, such as an underwater sound system at Ponds Forge leisure centre.

Sensoria website


Showcomotion is one of the oldest and one of the most loved, children’s film festivals in the country. Also based at Sheffield’s Showroom cinema, it has workshops and screenings for schools and colleges (through its school program). Although the event is aimed primarily at professionals working in the field of children’s media, during the weekends, the general public can go and enjoy some of the best new shorts, feature films and animations for all the family.

Showcomotion website

Celluloid Screams

At the other end of the spectrum of family accessibility is Sheffield’s horror film festival, Celluloid Screams. The event has run for the last five years at the Showroom cinema. With the best new and terrifying short and feature-length films from across the globe, including beloved horror classics, this is a great opportunity to meet and network with or ask questions of other horror film enthusiasts and professional filmmakers. If you’re into horror, this is for you.

Celluloid Screams website


As a festival of art, science and technology, Lovebytes provides digital technologies a way of expressing new ideas within creative and cultural platforms. They’re based in Sheffield and every year they have a variety of exhibitions, screenings, performances, talks and workshops. Not strictly a ‘film festival’ but usually involves a lot of moving images, so it qualifies. 🙂

Lovebytes website


SHAFF (Sheffield Adventure Film Festival) comes to the Showroom for two days of action-packed, adventurous film and talks from around the globe. There’s live music, interest-specific screenings and talks by well known and experienced adventurers. This is a must for anyone with a love for extreme sports. They also have events all year round for adrenaline junky types such as their ‘Head Torch Run’ in the peak district, at night, followed by a shower and a film screening.

SHAFF website

Cheap Thrills Zero Budget Film Festival

In 2011, a group of film makers won a prize for a video competition and decided to use it to create a community event. The result was The Cheap Thrills Zero Budget Film Festival. It’s a place where anyone, from any background, can submit their short film, so long as it’s under eight minutes long and has been made for next to nothing. It’s a free event and is fit for all the family to come along and see some great new shorts. A perfect example of that DIY mentality I mentioned earlier.

Zero Budget Festival website

Peak District Summer Nights

OK, so this isn’t Sheffield exactly, but if you fancy an evening movie, hosted in one of the Peak District’s beautiful outdoor wonders or one of its stately homes, The Peak District Summer Nights Festival will be the place to head for. Derby’s arthouse cinema and arts complex, The Quad, provide these locations with a massive outdoor screen for people to enjoy the films on. They aim to bring a range of contemporary and classic films to the sites and for the 2014, the venues include Kedleston Hall, Wollaton Hall, Hardwick Hall and Calke Abbey, plus other national locations outside of the Peak District.

Summer Nights website
Quad, Derby website