Youth Festivals Research

Film Hub Wales are pleased to present Youth Film Festival Network for Wales, Audit of Youth Film Festivals in Wales, the Wider UK and Europe.

Mae’r adroddiad hwn, a baratowyd gan Dan Thomas maps the youth film festival activity in Wales, the wider UK and Europe, focusing on the youth film festival landscape in Wales, outlining the current landscape and identifying any development opportunities.


Executive summary

This audit of youth film festival activity in Wales, the wider UK and Europe maps festivals which took place in 2014/15 and are aimed at participants aged 5-26.

The research specifically focuses on the youth film festival landscape in Wales, outlining the current landscape and identifying any development opportunities. The methodology consisted of desk research and qualitative interviews with selected festivals across Wales, the UK and Europe.

Taking these sources of evidence together, the research found that:

  • Mae dros 90 o wyliau ffilm ieuenctid ledled Ewrop.
  • Gall gwyliau sgrinio ffilmiau a wnaed ar gyfer cynulleidfaoedd ifanc neu sydd wedi’u hanelu atynt, a / neu ffilmiau sgrin a wneir gan bobl ifanc.
  • Y DU sydd â’r nifer fwyaf o wyliau ffilm ieuenctid yn Ewrop.
  • Yng Nghymru mae 6 gŵyl ffilm ieuenctid sy’n tueddu i weithredu’n annibynnol ar ei gilydd.
  • Mae yna ddiffyg cydlyniant a meddwl cydgysylltiedig yng Nghymru sy’n arwain at sector eithaf tameidiog.
  • Gellir datblygu’r sector i gynnig gwell cyfleoedd i bobl ifanc yng Nghymru wylio ystod ehangach o ffilmiau a sgrinio’u ffilmiau i gynulleidfa ehangach.

The Youth film sector has grown in Wales over the past 10 years but is now at a critical stage in its development. Six festivals are planned in 2016 but cuts to subsidised cultural opportunities in Wales and the lack of a joined up, youth festival strategy means they operate under extreme financial and human resource pressure, and have little room to grow.

Yet, despite this difficult funding landscape, opportunities do exist to develop youth film festivals further in Wales. The sector needs to come together as a network to maximise the impact of partnership working across film and the wider arts and creative industries, and to coordinate activity to build relationships with the youth film sector beyond Welsh borders.

About the research

Film Hub Wales commissioned the present research to map current youth film festival provision across Wales, the wider UK and Europe. Film Hub Wales wished to better understand the current youth film festival landscape, particularly in Wales, and to identify tangible opportunities for future development of the sector.

The audit of film festival activity is supplemented by a number of fieldwork interviews, phone and face to face, with festival managers across Wales, the wider UK and Europe to provide analysis of the current landscape, to look at best practice, and identify any gaps, challenges and opportunities within the youth film festival sector in Wales.

The working definition of a film festival applied in this research paper is as follows: “‘An event which takes place annually, bi-annually or less frequently which offers film screenings or a programme of films that would not otherwise be available to the local or national population. It includes events associated with the festival e.g. debate, criticism, guest speakers etc.”
For the purposes of this paper youth film festivals are categorized in one or both of the following descriptions:

  • Dedicated youth film festivals that screen a wide range of films made for or aimed at a young audience.
  • Dedicated youth film festivals that screen a wide range of films made by young people. This includes student film festivals.

The project scope covers dedicated youth film festivals across the 5-26 age range which operated across 2014/15. It does not include wider arts festivals that have an element of film, or established feature film festivals presenting a strand for youth. Qualitative data was collected via fourteen phone and face to face interviews with selected youth film festivals in Wales, the wider UK and Europe. This research builds a picture of youth film festival activity by exploring the following questions and making appropriate recommendations:
Types of provision

  • Where are the youth film festivals in the wider UK and Europe?
  • Who is running youth film festivals across Wales, in what geographical areas, what are they delivering and where are the gaps in terms of service provision and geographical spread?
  • What are their USP’s? What age ranges do they work with?
  • What, if any, provision is being delivered in the Welsh Language?
  • How are youth film festivals funded?
  • Where do they source their content?

Collaboration and partnerships

  • Who do youth film festivals partner with? Where do they see opportunities to develop further partnerships?
  • Do any youth film festivals work with European partners such as ECTARC, YEFF, ERASMUS or the Youth Cinema Network?
  • Are there other networks out there at the moment and what are the benefits?

Advocacy and strategic development

  • Why do we need youth film festivals and what are the benefits of running a festival for young people, and the wider film industry?
  • Should there be a Wales-wide youth filmmaker event and award?
  • What are the barriers to development and sustainability of youth film festivals?
  • Should there be a Wales-wide youth film festival network?
  • What are the barriers to developing any such network?

This report brings together findings from the desk research and consultations to provide:

  • An overview of current activity across Wales, the UK and Europe
  • Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Welsh sector as it stands
  • Analysis of needs and opportunities of the Welsh sector
  • Recommendations based on the needs analysis

Report structure

The report begins with a look at the background of film festival and youth film festival development to provide context to the current festival landscape in Wales, the wider-UK and Europe.
A detailed section on youth film festival provision in Wales follows on from this, based on desk research and interviews with those who work in the sector.
The report closes with a discussion of the issues for youth festival development in Wales, drawn out of the interviews with the sector, along with recommendations for future support options.


Film is a powerful and galvanising form of cultural expression, an inclusive medium universally enjoyed by people of every age and background. It can excite and inform; challenge and entertain; document and celebrate.
In the UK and wider Europe there have been significant developments in film exhibition and education for young people over the past 25 years primarily through the emergence of youth-orientated festivals, the development of Europe-wide networks (Young European Film Forum [YEFF], European Children’s Film Association [ECFA]), advances in digital technology, and local and national film education programmes.
Film Festivals have been part of the international film exhibition landscape for the best part of 85 years. Venice International Film Festival first ran in 1932 and since then thousands of other festivals – local, regional, national and international in ambition – have established themselves across the world. The British Council’s Festival Directory ( currently lists 1237 film festivals and this certainly doesn’t include local community festivals.
Regardless of scale, film festivals can make a valuable contribution to both the local and wider cultural, social and economic environment, offering opportunities to celebrate film culture as well as attracting new audiences for a wide range of films.


2. Youth Film Festivals – European Context

The first film festival dedicated to screenings for children and young people was held in Zlin, Czech Republic, in 1961 which initially aimed to establish itself as a national festival of Czechoslovak films for children and has subsequently gone on to become one of the biggest youth film festivals in the world. Over the course of the last 55 years youth film festivals have become an established aspect of the film festival landscape allowing children and young people to watch, make, participate and learn about film in an informal environment with their peers. Indeed, film festivals have been integral to developing and delivering film literacy for young people. This is particularly true in countries such as Portugal and Hungary where there is no formal film education or film literacy programme. Festivals in these countries take on extra importance as they are the primary deliverers of film education to young people.
Desk research has revealed there are currently approximately 90 dedicated youth film festivals across Europe including the UK. (see appendix 1). This does not include every local or one-day event or those general film festivals that have a strand of programming for young people. These festivals will either present films for young people, films made by young people or a combination of both. They will usually combine this with workshops and masterclasses and the majority present awards for the best films in the festival programme.
The research revealed there are dedicated youth film festivals in 34 of the 51 countries in Europe. These are primarily in Western Europe with the highest concentration in the UK and Germany with 19 and 13 respectively.
There are some 60 dedicated youth film festivals across Europe that screen films for young audiences. Generally, these are international programmes of features, shorts, animations and documentaries chosen from submissions or, in the case of the medium to large festivals, sourced via festival screenings and markets. Many festivals also have ambitions to bring indigenous films to audiences.
The largest of the youth film festivals, Giffoni in Italy, attracts approximately 2000 young people from over 39 countries, has reported audiences of c100,000, and screens features, documentaries and shorts. Its model is now used in other countries such as Macedonia and Georgia and the festivals are a big part of year round activity under the banner The Giffoni Experience.
Cinekid – International Film, Television and New Media Festival for Children and Young People is one of the more industry focused children’s film festivals in Europe. It takes place in Amsterdam, Netherlands and presents 30 features, documentaries, TV programmes, shorts and animations for 4-16 year olds to an audience of between 40,000 – 50,000. Its importance largely revolves around its Children’s Film Market which is part of the Cinekid Professionals conference that attracts rights holders of children’s films and buyers from all over the world.
BUSTER – Copenhagen International Film Festival for Children and Youth – is Denmark’s largest film festival focusing on 3-16 year olds. The festival screens more than 130 features, documentary and short films from around the world. Additionally, the festival includes workshops, events, debates, and various Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. The festival is arranged with support from the Danish Film Institute, the Municipality of Copenhagen, MEDIA – EU’s support program for the European audio-visual industry as well as other private and public contributors and foundations.
Although not a dedicated youth film festival, it is pertinent to highlight the Berlinale, one of the biggest film festivals in the world, which presents a section for children and young people, screening discoveries from world cinema to the public and industry, awarding Crystal Bears to the best films for under 14’s and over 14’s. These larger festivals, with their industry focus, are important for smaller festivals to engage with when seeking content.
As Programme Director we find films at festivals across Europe – We go to Berlin, Malmo festival once or twice, also been to TIFF kids – They’re all critical in terms of the time of year they happen.” Mike Tait, Discovery Film Festival, Dundee
Usually these larger festivals will be managed by dedicated teams of staff who work year round to develop the programme. They are established and well-funded by indigenous film institutes, Creative Europe, municipal and national partners and aim to offer children and young people an extensive programme of quality films in different genres from all over the world. The Kristiansand Festival in Norway for example has been in operation since 1998 and now programmes 85 feature films from 22 different countries reaching an audience of approximately 13000.
There are approximately 33 festivals across Europe that are solely dedicated to screening short films made by young people. Their aim, by and large, is to promote youth filmmaking, showcase new talent and provide opportunities for young people to collaborate. The majority of these festivals have an open submission process where young people from across the world can submit their film for consideration via a service such as film freeway. This allows the festivals to curate an international programme of shorts and allows young filmmakers to have a presence at different festivals around the world.
Generally, these festivals are smaller in size and are operated by very small teams of core staff and volunteers. Their funding is more ad-hoc, and usually involves annual applications to municipal and national funders.
The Four Rivers Festival in Croatia, for example, is run on a part time basis by two key members of staff who have alternative jobs the rest of the year round.
In Tromso, the larger Nordic Youth Film festival only has one full time member of staff, with the rest working on a temporary or voluntary basis.
Our staff this year had an average age of 17 years. They’re all voluntary. The Manager of the Organisation is paid and the Producer of the festival is paid for a 3-month salary.Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso
In both cases the festivals are required to develop partnerships with other non-youth film festivals to raise awareness of the work they do and the films they screen.
Our most important partner is the Tromso International Festival. It’s an important film festival for promotion and we put on a show of our films thereHermann Greuel, NUFF, Tromso
What these festivals do well however is network and build partnerships to develop young filmmaker and programme exchanges across Europe. In essence these festivals are about promoting and developing new talent and raising the profile of young filmmakers.
When you bring kids from all over the world to one place they come up with great ideas. It’s so much bigger than just watching a film in a theatre.Sanja Zanki, Four Rivers Festival, Croatia
This kind of collaboration can only happen with funding (from all countries involved) and multi-lateral agreements. There are a number of European wide organisations that aim to increase collaboration and opportunities for Young People in film and for Youth Film Festivals.
The Young European Film Forum (YEFF) is an international forum promoting involvement of young people in media. Young people from all over Europe meet biennially in a different European country to produce short films on the subject of cultural diversity. YEFF is also a growing network of organizations working in intercultural education, media literacy and anti-discrimination. The network currently consists of 12 organizations from 11 European countries including Zoom Cymru in Wales.
The Youth Cinema Network (YCN) is a network of youth film festivals, organizations and film/media teachers that promotes and improves filmmaking by young people. YCN’s vision is – through international collaboration – to bring young filmmakers and their stories to an international audience. The network’s ultimate goal is to enrich European film culture. There are currently two member festivals from the UK, one of which is Wicked:16 from Wales.
The European Children’s Film Association (ECFA) is an organisation for those who are interested in high quality films for children and young people: film makers, producers, promotors, distributors, exhibitors, TV-programmers, festival organizers and film educators. There are currently 100 members in 36 different countries.
Go back to 1. INTRODUCTION


UK-wide context

In the UK the film festival landscape has grown to over 150 festivals a year since the Edinburgh International Film Festival presented its inaugural programme in 1947. London followed suit in 1953 yet the real proliferation of festivals across the UK didn’t start to happen until the late 1980’s and 90’s. The majority of these film festivals in the UK are necessarily local in ambition, focus and scale and support for such festivals was often provided through bodies such as the National or Regional Screen Agencies (RSAs). In 2006/07 around 80 festivals were funded in this way (approximately £900,000 was invested in 2006/07).

In 2007 the UK Film Council recognised festivals played a major part in the film industry economy releasing a film festival strategy aimed at “building the ambition and reach of film festivals that are currently, or have the potential, to be of national or international significance…”. The UK at that time had the world’s third biggest film economy but according to the UKFC “this status is not reflected in or reinforced by its film festivals when compared to other major world festivals such as Venice, Berlin, or Sundance. As a response, the UK Film Council has identified two types of film festivals that it wishes to support, which though thematically different, both enjoy global ambitions.” A total of £4.5m over three years was made available to UK festivals of international and national significance although this was discontinued when the UKFC closed in 2011.

The BFI became solely responsible for film policy implementation in 2011 and has allocated Lottery funding of £1million per year, for four years from 2013-17 to a film festival fund. This fund supports festivals which provide audiences across the UK with a greater film choice, as well as increasing audiences for specialised and independent film.

The youth film festival sector in the UK is much more embryonic. Belfast’s Cinemagic, funded by Northern Ireland Screen supported by Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure, was established in 1989 and is currently the largest film event of its kind for young people in Ireland and the UK. Cinemagic was the only youth festival to receive funding from the UKFC’s festival fund in 2008.

In England, Showcomotion (Sheffield) and Leeds Young Film Festival were launched in 1999. Leeds Young Film Festival is the UK’s most interactive young people’s film event with annual audiences of over 10,000 children, young people and families. It encompasses The Film House, Leeds Animation Festival and Not For Rental and screens films from around the world made both for and by young people, alongside moving-image related workshops and masterclasses. Leeds Young Film Festival is the only dedicated youth film festival to have been awarded funding by the BFI’s Film Festival fund in 2015/16.

Scotland’s first dedicated youth film festival was in Dundee with the development of the Discovery Film Festival: Scotland’s International Film Festival for Young Audiences in 2004. Now in its twelfth year Discovery Film Festival is unique in the youth film sector in that its programme tours various venues around Scotland and offers programmes of shorts for very young children.

Glasgow Youth Film Festival is now in its eighth year and is the only film festival in Europe curated by 15-18 year olds. It makes up part of the Glasgow Film Festival offer which was recently awarded funding by the BFI’s Festival Fund in 2015/16 totalling £92,500.

The BFI’s youth film festival, Future Film, takes place at the BFI Southbank and is dedicated to supporting young filmmakers, helping them to develop their skills and knowledge and understanding of the film industry in order to progress their ambitions and careers. This is funded in house but seeks to develop industry partnerships UKwide to run workshops and masterclasses.

One of the key initiatives Into Film have developed since its formation is the Into Film Festival, a free and annual celebration of film and education for 5-19 year olds across the UK. This builds upon the work carried out by National Schools Film Week, the flagship event of the now defunct Film Education.

The Into Film Festival is the world’s largest annual free film festival for young people. Working with venues around the UK the festival engaged over 372,000 young people and educators in 2014. Into Film came about in September 2013 with the merger of FILMCLUB and First Light, working in partnership with Pearson and the National Schools Partnership to deliver the BFI’s Lottery-funded programme of film education activity for 5-19 year olds and those who work with them. The film festival is now a firm aspect of this offer.

All of these festivals continue to operate and grow despite the challenging financial climate of the last 5 years. In fact, the UK has developed its youth film festival landscape in that time with more than 15 festivals dedicated to those under the age of 25 now operating (see appendix 3)

Although there is no UK-wide network for youth film festivals, networks that do exist include the Young Cinema Audience Network in Scotland, at which Discovery Film Festival and Glasgow Youth Film festival are represented through their parent organisations. The Glasgow Film Theatre, the DCA and the Edinburgh Filmhouse have been committed to activities geared toward young Scottish film-goers over the last 6 years. Several times a year, they and other cinemas come together to discuss programming policy, the activities they’ve put in place, print sharing and joint applications for financial assistance. In 2011 this network was a recipient of the Europa Cinema Award for best young audience activities.

In 2013 the BFI implemented the Film Audience Network (FAN) consisting of nine Film Hubs which cover the whole of the UK. The remit of the network is to boost film audiences across the UK with ambition to increase access to British independent and
world cinema.

The BFI Film Audience Network is currently exploring the potential of developing a UK wide network of young programmers. The aim will be to provide young people with hands-on experience in independent film curation, marketing and event management, all designed to empower the next generation of young cinema-goers.

In July 2015 193 organisations across the UK responded to a survey from the Film Audience Network designed to map current young programmer provision and assess interest in developing a potential network (see Appendix 5)

The research showed there are currently 33 organisations running young programmer initiatives across the UK. 5 of these are dedicated youth film festivals; Glasgow Youth Film Festival, Cinemagic, Discovery Film Festival, Zoom Festival and Leeds Young Film Festival. The breakdown can be seen in Appendix 6

Despite the finding that a majority of organisations do not currently offer any provision, there was overwhelming interest in the development of a UK-wide network for young programmer initiatives (see Appendix 7). 93% of respondents were definitely or maybe interested in a network which could organise collaborative events and seasons with 82% of respondents favouring a shared information tool. Organisations also suggested funding/finance assistance as a network benefit with a clear appetite to develop consortia bids and to pool resources.

The next chapter of the report looks in depth at the Welsh youth film festival sector and seeks to identify areas of success and areas for development to benefit the sector going forward.

4. Youth Film Festival Provision in Wales

“We need festivals for young people because it’s the future of the film industry. It’s demystifying it. We need to show routes in, career paths and demonstrate the value of film. We can profile and showcase young people’s work as part of a sustainable programme.” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Director Wicked:16, Prestatyn

This section presents an overview of the current landscape of youth festival provision across Wales. It begins with a look at the type, level and spread of activity, before describing specific aspects of the sector garnered from interviews held with festival operators. This is followed in Section 3 by offering identified areas for development and how they can be addressed, concluding with a set of recommendations to take forward.

A map of current dedicated youth film festivals in Wales (see Appendix 2) was compiled from records held by Film Hub Wales, and augmented by desk research. Only Welsh specific festivals that satisfy the definition outlined in the introduction to
this report were included.

Once the initial database had been compiled in depth phone/face to face interviews were carried out with representatives from each of the identified festivals. The landscape is diverse in terms of models and structure, but wherever possible the interviews were carried out with the person responsible for overseeing the operation of the festival.

From this research, six dedicated youth film festivals have been identified, all of which are in current or planned operation. Inevitably, there will be some very local projects, either in an informal youth setting or in formal school delivery which will either be in the form of one off projects (and therefore difficult to track) or are delivered as part of a wider arts programme. This does not include the Into Film Festival which is a UK-wide initiative.


In Wales the film festival landscape has been slower to develop than that of England and Scotland. Indeed, all of the current festivals in operation in Wales are less than 15 years old. Aberystwyth first hosted a film festival in 1989 which eventually moved to Cardiff and ran for 16 years under different names. Its last edition came in 2006 as the Cardiff International Film Festival. The Wales One World Film Festival, founded in 2001, has brought world cinema to a number of venues across Wales and is currently the most longstanding film event in Wales. Ffresh Student film festival is now in its 13th year and showcases the best student work from around Wales.

2006 saw the formation of a new national screen agency, Film Agency Wales, which implemented a film exhibition strategy aimed at growing audiences for a broader range of films. In 2007 the Film Agency, in agreement with the Arts Council of Wales, became the sole funder of film festivals in Wales and released a film festival strategy “designed to support film festivals in Wales that are distinctive and innovative, and contribute to Film Agency Wales’ strategic aims of promoting a vibrant and dynamic film culture”.

Festivals were also able to apply to the Film Agency’s education fund to develop their 5-19 film literacy programmes that were to run parallel to, but considered outside of, the normal remit of the festival. This allowed them to develop specific film education projects utilising the festival programme and encourage interaction with schools and colleges.

The result of this strategy was a net gain in festivals of local significance across Wales all with varying USP’s and themes. This included the Zoom International Young Film Festival in the South Wales Valleys and the Pics Youth Film Festival in Caernarfon. In addition, the Film Agency sought to develop an event of national significance, providing funding from the Welsh Government for the Soundtrack International Film Festival, an annual event celebrating films and music first held in Cardiff in 2008. Soundtrack ran for three years before its funding was cut and was forced to close in 2011.

Film Agency Wales, now Ffilm Cymru Wales, revised its festival strategy following the closure of Soundtrack, which reflected new values including diversity and innovation with the intention “to develop a mixed ecology of festivals in Wales, which will improve access to the widest range of film with the potential for innovation, breadth and depth.” Investment of £60,000 was distributed annually across six festivals on three year agreements “in order to provide stability and assist in leveraging funding, promoting growth and sustainability.” Current festival funding agreements end in March 2016 and details of any further funding are yet to be confirmed. Ffilm Cymru Wales sought to network a number of these festivals to share resources, best practice and programmes. Youth festivals PICS, Zoom and the newly formed Scala Youth Festival in Prestatyn established the inaugural Wales Youth Film Network. The network has struggled to develop however and in 2013 the Scala Youth Festival ceased when the Scala Prestatyn was closed.

Since the formation of the Ffresh Student festival in 2003, festivals/events aimed specifically at young people have developed across different parts of Wales. This is partly due to the film festival strategy and its values implemented by Film Agency Wales, but can also be seen as a positive result of the advances in digital technology and media education initiatives which many of the festivals sought to embed in their programmes.

In Wales there are some 700 participating schools in the Into Film programme and the Into Film festival provides a number of special events including screenings, Q+A’s, masterclasses and workshops in different types of venues across Wales.

Fourteen independent Welsh exhibitors took part in the 2014 Into Film Festival, (2015 results were not available at time of writing) in addition to chains operated by the likes of Odeon, Vue and Cineworld. 17,234 5-19 year olds took part in screening events hosted in Wales, 4.6% of the total across the UK, and special events were hosted at Cardiff Cineworld, Vue Cardiff, Chapter Arts and The Welfare.

Support for film festivals in Wales was widened in 2013 with the establishment of Film Hub Wales, one of the nine membership organisations across the UK that form the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN). Working in partnership with members (which include cinemas, mixed use venues, community cinemas, film societies, film festivals and film practitioners), the Hub “celebrates and supports the vibrant cultural film sector in Wales” with funding totalling £200,000 per year in the period 2013 to 2017. Investment is directed at exhibition projects that “build and sustain connections to education, archive, talent and special events that are informed by audience needs and celebrate our cultural heritage”.

Support for exhibition is provided through the Audience Development strand. Due to the existing funds for festivals in Wales from Ffilm Cymru and BFI, BFI guidelines to Film Hub Wales state that support should not cover core festival activity. Funding support for festivals may cover special projects that demonstrate risk taking outside of the festival dates in some cases, in addition to rolling Welsh film support. Film Hub Wales also work to raise funds for festivals through other sources, such as the BFI Programme Development Fund.

Types of provision

There are 22 Local Authorities in Wales. Youth Film Festivals take place across 11 Local Authorities, although four festivals, Zoom, Pics, Ffresh and Wicked:16 have a particular element that is Wales-wide. This is primarily through filmmaking competitions which are open to any young people in Wales meeting specified criteria. Zoom has the largest outreach programme, expanding its provision over the last 10 years to young people in 6 Local Authorities.

Festival Location Reach
Zoom RCT, Torfaen, Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly Wales-wide (Bilingual)
PICS Gwynedd Wales-wide (in Welsh language)
Ffresh Peripatetic (one location per year) Wales-wide (Bilingual)
Wicked:16 Denbighshire Wales-wide (Bilingual)
Ffilmic Powys Local
Pembrokeshire Schools Pembrokeshire Local (Bilingual)

Zoom Cymru, formed in 2006 by Rhondda Cynon Taf Cultural Services, runs its flagship event, the Zoom International Youth Film Festival (ZIYFF) annually, every March, in Bridgend and surrounding valleys towns and “aims to provide a platform for young people to find a voice and tell their stories whilst promoting positive cultural and community values and having fun!”

ZIYFF[1] has become Wales’ leading youth film event and is part of a year round programme of film and media for young people aged 8-25. Zoom’s young film-maker awards encourages young people from across Wales to submit and screen their films. This includes films in the Welsh language. Their programme of feature film screenings is world-wide in scope and brings cultural cinema to young people across venues in the valleys. Zoom also runs a Youth Film Council, composed of young people from across Wales who are interested in film and media. One of their key tasks is contributing to shortlisting and selecting the winning films submitted into the Filmmaker Awards.

Similarly, PICS, established in 2007 by Galeri Caernarfon, began life as a film competition and has since developed to include screenings, workshops and masterclasses over six days for young people in the North West Wales area. Its remit has now changed to focus on developing and showcasing the work of young filmmakers aged 7-25 in the Welsh language. It screened 13 features in 2014, two of which were international and the rest a mix of Welsh and US titles. In this respect is has an important role to play in the Welsh Youth Film Sector being the only festival primarily in the Welsh language.

PICS and Zoom are still part of the youth film festival network and have a joint funding agreement with Ffilm Cymru Wales until March 2016.

Other parts of Wales have also seen youth film events develop. Ffilmic in Llanfyllin, Powys provides opportunities for young people in their locality to make and share films with their peers. The actual Ffilmic festival takes place over one weekend and is a community arts based initiative managed by Arts Connect. Film is a part of their overall programme, and primarily offers young people the chance to make short films through a 10-day film challenge programme. Ffilmic will also programme a non-mainstream film screening for young people in partnership with the local film society.

Ffresh festival is the only showcase of work from FE and HE students in Wales. From its inception in 2003 until 2011 it was situated in Aberystwyth University, but has since become peripatetic utilising different HE campuses across Wales every year. Ffresh features the best student work from Wales, the UK, and abroad, along with masterclasses, panel sessions and workshops with some of the industry’s most renowned and respected figures.

Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival, an initiative of the Pembrokeshire local education authority, has now been in operation for 10 years and was developed to showcase and reward work made over the year by young people in the region’s schools. Although they work with ages 7-18, primary is mainly their focus. They hold an awards and screening event annually.

Wicked:16 is a brand new festival which will run for the first time in Prestatyn in late 2016. Its remit is to showcase the best of Welsh and European youth film work and to encourage collaboration between young people of Wales and those in other countries. Wicked:16 is the sole member of the European Youth Cinema Network initiative.

Wales has a diverse ecology of youth festivals in that no festival is particularly operated or modelled in the same way. They can be categorised as follows:

Table 2.1: Types of festival model

Number %
Sole Venue based (PICS) 1
Schools based (Pembrokeshire) 1
Community based (Ffilmic, Wicked:16) 2
Multi venue/location (Zoom) 1
University based (Ffresh) 1
Total 6 100%

Youth film festivals are impressive in their diversity and can do any of the following:

  • Screen films made for or suitable for young people.
  • Screen films made by young people.
  • Host a dedicated education programme linked to the curriculum.
  • Be industry focused.
  • A mixture or all of the above.

Youth Film Festivals in Wales focus primarily on working with young people to make and screen their films. This is to showcase young talent and provide young people with opportunities they wouldn’t normally have access to. There is no festival solely dedicated to screening a wide range of films from around the world made for or aimed at young people, although Pics and Zoom both programme features as a wider part of their festival.

Table 2.2: How would you primarily describe your festival’s USP?

Number %
Filmed made for or aimed at young people 0 62%
Films made by young people 3 38%
Both 3
Total 21 100%

Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants
“We aim to encourage, motivate, inspire and stimulate children and young people to discuss film and social issues. We aim to increase the diversity of children’s films and enable young people to see films from across the world and learn about other cultures. We aim to broaden young people’s experience of film through film history and culture. We also strive to show UK films made for a young audience.” Rebecca Lee, Zoom Cymru
“We want to get people involved in film who might not normally get involved.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

“We want to develop connections with global festivals, the youth cinema network and bring the conference to Wales in 2016. The driver is to make international links for our filmmakers and develop programmes with international partners to develop exchange programmes.” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Wicked:16
“It’s a way of showcasing work made over the year and a way of running a series of workshops around filmmaking.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival

“The purpose of the festival is to celebrate the best work being created by the up-and-coming moving image talent from around the world, and to provide a vital link between higher education, further education and the media sector.” Faye Hannah, Chair, Ffresh Festival

“The festival initially was a screening day for a project we did annually – for children from troubled backgrounds with animation. It’s our 10th festival this year and the USP has changed over the years to rewarding young filmmakers 7-25 in the welsh language.” Steffan Thomas, Pics Festival


PICS is the only festival dedicated solely to Welsh language short films. All the other festivals can be classed as bilingual. Zoom has a specific award for the best film made in Wales, not in the English language as well as best international short but primarily its submissions are in English.

Four out of the six festivals are dedicated to showcasing work by young people and therefore source their films via submission to their respective filmmaking competitions. Ffilmic will screen a feature and work in partnership with their local film society to acquire the film. Only Pics and Zoom screen feature films for young people within their main festival programme.

PICS work with the Independent Cinema Office to deliver their screening programme, but have in recent years also acquired content from the Discovery Film Festival in the form of the Shorts for Wee Ones collection, a short film package aimed at pre-school children.
Zoom work with distributors, and carry out their own research to find their films, although this can be labour intensive for a festival with a small team.

“We look at what other children and youth festivals have screened. We also have links with distributors who we keep in contact with for new releases. Most of time we do not struggle to find good films, it can take a bit of digging and research though and of course staff time in sourcing the films” Rebecca Lee, Zoom Cymru

On average, youth festivals in Wales cater for 7-25 year olds, which is a wide range of abilities, skills and competencies. Ffresh Festival is the only festival in Wales to solely focus on students in FE and HE hence the older entry point of 16.

Table 2.3: What ages does your festival cater for?

Age range
Zoom International Youth Film Festival 8-25
Ffresh Student Film Festival 16-24
Pembrokeshire Schools Festival 7-18
PICS Film Festival 7-25
Ffilmic Under 25
Wicked:16 6-25
Total 20

Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants

Funding for youth film festivals in Wales is more of a challenge than ever in light of recent widespread, significant Local Authority cuts, in which some councils have made 100% cuts to non-statutory services. Denbighshire Council announced wholesale reductions to leisure budgets in 2014 which has already forced the closure of the Scala Prestatyn venue and festival.

Two youth film festivals, Zoom and Pics, are in current receipt of funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales’ festival fund (£15k per annum for 3 years) although this comes to an end in March 2016. Zoom’s award of £10k is almost 95% of their festival budget. Plans for festival funding beyond that date have yet to be communicated, but understandably, there’s always concern for the future when there’s so much reliance on one income stream for a festival.

Other primary sources of funding are ticket sales and in-kind sponsorship. Pricing structures naturally vary from festival to festival depending on local demographics. Zoom Cymru, working primarily in Community First areas, do not charge for screenings but do charge £5 for entry to their filmmaker awards. Ffilmic on the other hand charge for screenings (£3/4) but not for the filmmaking challenge. This income covers the majority of their costs. Pembrokeshire Schools festival try not to charge for any aspects of their programme and is mostly cost neutral.

It should be noted that the Into Film festival does not charge for any of its screenings or workshops and is funded through the BFI’s Film Forever Strategy.

No youth film festivals are in receipt of any funding from outside Wales. Zoom Cymru were successful in applying to the BFI’s Festival fund but were unable to accept it due to timescales. Only one festival, Wicked:16 has plans to apply for European funding to develop its offer.

Table 2.4: Where does your funding come from?

Sponsorship 3
Ffilm Cymru Wales 2
Self-funding 2
Local authority in-kind funding 1
FE/HE budgets 1

Source: Film education practitioner survey, analysis by consultants

Existing Collaboration & Partnerships

Given the precarious financial climate partnerships have become increasingly more important, be they offers of in-kind or financial support. At a community festival level partnerships are naturally very localised. For smaller festivals such as Ffilmic and Pembrokeshire Schools Festival, their partners tend to be local venues (in-kind event support) local authority (in-kind staff time) as well as some regional press coverage.

For the larger festivals there’s an array of partnerships which can be categorised as local, national and European, although primarily partnerships tend to be Wales based or with Welsh arms of UK-wide organisations.

Pics festival takes advantage of its proximity to local TV/film production in Caernarfon with cash prizes for young filmmakers funded by Welsh companies Rondo Media, Bait Studio and Cloth Cat. Pics will also offer the sponsors a session in the festival in return, although there is very little take up of this due to time and availability of expertise.

Ffresh festival has built up partnerships with HE & FE organisations across Wales. It also has strong partnerships with the Media, Film (+VFX), TV, Games and animation industries in Wales as well as the broadcasters. These partnerships will generally be in the form of workshops, masterclasses or networking events. In addition, there are sector organisation partnerships which include Creative Skillset Cymru and NextGen Skills academy which offer advice on career pathways.

Zoom is a BAFTA Cymru approved festival which allows the films screened at the festival to be eligible for BAFTA Cymru Award nominations. It also has links with other Wales-wide organisations such as the Royal Television Society and Creative Skillset Cymru although this is not in the form of direct funding. In 2015 it partnered with the Edinburgh International Television Festival and the University of South Wales to provide a seminar on how to get into the TV industry and also has a number of partnerships with local authority venues and organisations in its catchment area.

Two of the festivals currently work with European networks. Zoom is a member of the Young European Film Forum (YEFF), the only UK representative, which allowed them to send a number of young people to Brussels in 2015 to take part in the YEFF film workshops with other young people from around Europe. In addition, Zoom also hosted a YEFF European conference providing opportunities for media and film educators from the UK to meet with practitioners across Europe to share best practice and develop possible collaborations for future film and media projects.

Wicked:16 is a member of the Youth Cinema Network which meets a number of times a year to promote and advocate youth filmmaking and the screening of films made by young people. This will allow Wicked:16 the opportunity to develop exchange programmes with partner festivals around Europe and programme films made by young people from all over Europe.

Advocacy and Strategic Development

There are many reasons why film festivals dedicated to young people are important. These reasons can vary depending on a festivals USP. These are just some of the reasons given by the festivals interviewed for this report:

“It’s important to celebrate film and encourage young people to appreciate films from across the world, hopefully igniting an interest for the future.” Steffan Thomas, PICS, Caernarfon

“Young people are often talked about as the audience of the future but we believe they’re an audience in their own right now and that it is important to offer a wider, broader and deeper experience with cinema than would be available if festivals did not exist.” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival

“Young filmmakers are making film – they need exposure – why do we make films? We make them for audiences and we need a forum and a platform. We are, because they are” Hermann Greuel, NUFF, Tromso

Youth film festivals also offer young people a number of opportunities to develop not only their creative and critical skills but also gain valuable work experience through volunteering. This can be across general ushering and front of house duties to a more involved role such as programming and curation. Outside of the obvious short term benefits of being part of a festival there are more longer -term benefits for young people.

“We have volunteers and a lot of people have moved on to bigger festivals and events. They use the skills they learn with us to be PR or event producer. Some of them have been choosing that as their profession.” Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso

“Leeds Young Film has always offered work experience to young people who are committed to working in the film industry and we have then worked with them one to one to find other opportunities and to signpost them to other organisations.” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival

Not only that, every festival in Wales interviewed had a successful case study of a young filmmaker going on to develop their passion for film, either via work experience or through higher education.

“We had a young animator who won the animation category two years ago. The sponsors were so impressed with him that they offered to mentor him across 12 months. They funded new equipment for him and arranged work experience” Steffan Thomas, PICS

“We’ve been running the festival for 10 years and we do have pupils and students who have gone on to uni to study film and animation. We invite them back to talk to young people.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival

“The festival doesn’t offer a direct career path but it does make people understand what’s involved, learn new skills and find they enjoy it and go and study it.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

In terms of Youth Film festivals working together in Wales, there have been attempts to develop networks, mostly as an incentive to access funding from Ffilm Cymru Wales. Zoom, Pics and the former Scala Youth Film Festival formed The Wales Film Festival Youth Network (TWFFYN) in 2013. Its aim was to increase collaboration between the festivals and allow young people to work together across Wales to create, watch and learn about films.

The network has had minor success so far in achieving those aims and ambitions. Young people from Pics did attend the Zoom festival in 2014 and Zoom and Pics have cross promoted their programmes. However, there is recognition that the network could be more effective. Reasons for the lack of success appear to be down to geography, resources or the fact people move on and do other things.

“There hasn’t been much discussion with other festivals – there’s space to do more – Skype and regular updates is a good way of working – organisation is needed – we need dates in the calendar way in advance.” Steffan Thomas, PICS

“Welsh organisations have tried to work together but in practice it didn’t really happen. It was fragmented. There’s fantastic work going on but all going on in that locality. We need opportunities to come together so we don’t re-invent the wheel. We’ve done enough piloting to develop something you can take off the shelf and apply.” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16

“We did try to collaborate with the Pink Snowball Awards as they were at a similar time in the Calendar but they moved on and it didn’t really happen.” [2] Sian Walters, Ffilmic

In terms of future network development there is a definite appetite for working together and an overwhelming consensus that a Wales-wide network would be beneficial.

“We would need a network to offer collaboration, partnership, best practice, shared resources and leverage for funding.” Rebecca Lee, Zoom

“It’s good to make connections with others. If young people in Pembrokeshire have access to filmmaking experiences or advice from professionals, then that would be worthwhile” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival

“Be nice to have young people involved in a network. We tried to get young people to Zoom but just didn’t happen. Something centrally needs to happen.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

“We would want clear objectives as to the purpose and direction of the network. Opportunities for development funding and any opportunities to link with festivals UK and internationally. We are aware of other festivals in Wales (Zoom for example and stand-alone film projects like It’s my shout) we haven’t worked together previously but if there was a mutually beneficial project that supported both organisations objectives we would be keen to engage, particularly if this secured development funding or there was PR / Marketing opportunities.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh

“We would like a network if it can get the films out there to showcase our work. We want to be more outward looking and gaining a wider audience is a great thing.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival

Given previous networks in Wales have had difficulties in achieving aims and ambitions there are obvious barriers that could prevent a new network being successful such as funding and resources (staff and time). However, there are also less obvious barriers which need to be taken into consideration.

“It’s really about funding and competition – PPV, the internet, Netflix, – We’re now actively investing in renovations to our venue and adding to the experience rather than just bums on seats to compete.” Steffan Thomas, PICS

“Barriers include cost, access to young people, a co-ordinator, people’s time – it actually needs to operate like a network. Resources and capacity within the organisation are tight. We need to bring other partners on board and needs to be seen to be important. Needs investment!” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16

“Barriers include the perception of film. For some reason schools don’t go for dance and film. They will pay for visual arts, crafts, but there are some things they won’t pay for. Film Literacy is still hard to sell.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

For some there were no barriers and it’s more about the benefits of such a network:

“There are no barriers. We would need to see clear benefits from the outset that supported our organisational objectives – Youth film festivals are often run on a shoe string budget with minimal staff and overhead costs so ensuring the time were able to offer to support this reaped benefits would be key.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh

There was less of a consensus on whether Wales needed a national event to bring young people together to explore small nations/Welsh culture through film. A number of responses reflected on the work already being carried out by festivals in Wales or highlighted non-film festival events that could be potential partners.

“An event to celebrate young people in wales – maybe it doesn’t need to be a festival. You have all these different festivals doing stuff and maybe it needs a showcase event. We’re missing a trick not working with organisations such as the Eisteddfod or the Green Man Festival.” Steffan Thomas, PICS

“It’s essential that there is a national event that brings young people together to explore this kind of thing with training elements, networking opps, film industry, skills, and opportunity to develop European projects.” Rhiannon Hughes, Wicked:16

“We would need to understand how this could support our festival objectives – it could possibly be from an international perspective. USW have their small nations centre and maybe this is something they could seek to develop? We would ask how this would support our Students / Education partners and industry in terms of showcasing their work and development. If developed further, we would be interested to see how this could link in.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh

“If we felt there was something we can take our young people that is bigger than what we do then that would be great. A youth arts festival might be an opportunity. In Wales, if you don’t see something then you don’t know that you can do it or try it.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

All of the youth film festivals offer Young Filmmaker Awards and these are viewed without exception as extremely valuable to recognise and reward local or national talent. Generally, these ceremonies are occasions or events which attract some press coverage and celebrate young people’s achievements. The size of the overall prizes vary festival to festival, from £10 to £500, but the general consensus is an award alone is enough to incentivise, inspire and encourage young people to make films.

“We do like the competitive side of the awards and we have to have an awards panel so that helps build links between schools and filmmakers, industry. Their title is often enough although there is a cash prize. That’s sponsored by the local paper.” Duncan Whitehurst, Pembrokeshire Schools Film Festival

“Incentives are interesting. Some people don’t like the competition idea but for young people it is special and important. Prizes aren’t huge but we share the money out. The kids all come dressed up.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

“There is a big value in awards – not just cash but we also work with TAPE to offer free editing service or adding soundtrack to music for film.” Steffan Thomas, PICS

A substantial amount of work has been carried out in Wales over the last ten years in the youth film sector, including the development and sustainability of national and local festivals, the roll out of Filmclub (now Into Film) and the funding of education projects for 5-19. Accordingly, there is enormous scope and potential to build on this existing youth film activity in Wales; to maximise partnership working across the sector and wider arts and creative industries and to coordinate activity to build capacity within the youth film sector beyond Welsh borders. The next section of the report looks at where the opportunities lie and makes appropriate recommendations for the future development of the sector.
[1] In March 2016, during the final editing of this report, the board of ZIYFF announced the festival was to cease operation following its 2016 edition.

[2] The Pink Snowball Awards was a youth filmmaking programme developed by Film 15 in Machynllth from 2007 – 2012

5. Gaps, Challenges and Opportunities

This section looks at gaps in youth film festival provision across Wales emerging from the evidence presented in section two; at other challenges facing the development of youth film activity in Wales; and the best opportunities for future development. It also takes into account evidence and examples of practice from festivals in the wider UK and Europe.

Before looking at specific gaps identified by the research, there is a need for some context around the film exhibition sector in Wales, in particular young audiences.

These are times of considerable change in the film exhibition sector, including for example:

  • Changing audience behaviour;
  • The impact of digital provision;
  • Further development of exhibition networks;
  • Increased socio-economic exclusion;
  • Engaged trusts, foundations and new potential partners concerned with social inclusion;
  • On-going austerity measures;
  • Furtherance of creative arts education in Wales,
  • Specific developments particular to individual clients such as changes to Local Authority support and the upcoming outcome of the Arts Council’s Investment Review.

Evidence emerging from recent research commissioned by Film Hub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales suggests a lack of diversity in film audiences across independent venues and festivals in Wales, in particular younger audiences and those with low household incomes.

The Understanding our Audiences report by Creative Cultural Associates, commissioned by Film Hub Wales, surveyed member organisations such as venues, film societies and festivals as well as members of the public.

Key findings included:

  • The largest audience segment for all film-going in the UK by age is the 15-24 age group which accounts for around 35% of all admissions.
  • Across member organisations in Wales students/younger people tended to make up a very small proportion of audiences.
  • Certain demographic groups are under-represented among network audiences, relative to the population as a whole and cinema audiences for the UK overall. These are: younger age groups (particularly the 15 – 45 age groups), social groups C2DE

Since its inception in 2006 Ffilm Cymru Wales has provided core funding for a number of venues around Wales to increase specialist film provision for a broader audience. It has also provided funding for 6 festivals over the last 3 years. In 2015 Ffilm Cymru Wales undertook its own consultation with the sector with a view to informing a future audience strategy from 2017 onwards once the current funding agreements with festivals and venues end.

The results from the FfCW consultation correlated with the research carried out by Creative Cultural Associates and highlighted a number of key issues including:

  • Cinema audiences in FfCW funded venues are getting older.
  • Venues are struggling to attract younger audiences and don’t have the resources to implement audience development initiatives aimed at that specific demographic.
  • There’s a demand for shared resources, collaboration on funding bids, networks and information
  • The sector needs to be more inclusive.
  • There are still areas where activity is limited.

The FfCW consultation also revealed pressure on Local Authority support for venues, community and youth groups, and arts and culture more generally, all of which have implications for youth film provision.

At the time of writing there is uncertainty over the future of Zoom Cymru which has constantly battled against funding cuts and dwindling support from its funders. Should Zoom Cymru close then Wales loses its largest youth film festival offer.

Ffilm Cymru Wales is still in the process of developing their audience strategy in the context of all of this information with a view to announcing future developments by March 2016. In keeping with their business plan 2015-18, Inclusivity, diversity and the audience will be at the core of this strategy.

In addition to Wales it is pertinent to consider the UK-wide picture. The BFI’s Film Forever strategy ends in 2017 and as yet there is no steer from them on the future direction of the audience development strategy which incorporates the Film Audience Network. DCMS have announced an 8% cut to the BFI’s Grant in Aid funding over the next four years. As yet there is no indication how this will affect funded programmes such as the FAN, Into Film and the Festival Fund.

It is in the context of this challenging landscape that the youth film sector in Wales seeks to move forward and develop, to offer opportunities for more young people across Wales to watch and make films at festivals. These are the two specific challenges that require solutions.

Recommendation 1

Film Hub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales have previously jointly commissioned a film education audit of Wales, which is due to be published in January 2016. Although this youth festival report has been commissioned independently by Film Hub Wales there are many correlations between the two. Naturally film education and youth film provision go hand in hand; many of the festivals have a strong film education programme alongside their screenings and workshops. Therefore, there is a need for Film Hub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales to work in partnership to develop young audiences for film in Wales alongside the work they are doing in film education. This is not just across festivals but venues and events too. The development of youth film festivals should be included in both organisations audience development strategies.

This partnership should be able to implement the further recommendations within this report alongside those of the film education audit, but at a minimum it should:

  • Advocate the importance of youth film festivals and youth film-making to stakeholders, partners and funders. This includes the film and wider creative industries.
  • Explore and prepare joint funding initiatives that explore new ways of developing young audiences.
  • Build strategic partnerships with other appropriate organisations, particularly in the creative industries, that will allow the youth film festival sector to grow in Wales.
  • Develop a youth film festival network in Wales which could be standalone or be part of, or incorporated into, the Film Education Network to avoid duplication.
  • Integrate industry and HE/FE into the youth film offer by advocating the importance of young people watching and making films as the future of the creative industries.
  • Develop a one-day conference around youth film.

In Wales there is a clear need and demand for a network like that of the Youth Cinema Network in Europe or the Young Cinema Audience Network in Scotland, two tangible initiatives that are delivering benefits to their sectors. This Youth Film Festival Network will be able to work closely with Film Hub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales to deliver the recommendations in this report. There is fantastic work going on across Wales, but it tends to be very local in scope and in isolation, and as a whole it doesn’t add up to a strong sector. Wales is behind Scotland, Northern Ireland and England in terms of youth film festival development, but conversely has enormous potential to develop and grow for the benefit of young Welsh people wanting to engage with film.

“We need a network that brings young people together in Wales and internationally… also develop partnerships together and as a group advocate the benefits of young people’s festivals” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Wicked:16

Recommendation 2: A Youth Film Festival Network for Wales.

Previous attempts to develop a youth film network in Wales have had mixed success. The Wales Film Festival Youth Network (TWFFYN) formed by Zoom, PICS and Scala has, on evidence, not entirely fulfilled its ambition of networking young people across Wales. Indeed, the network appears to have become static in its operation.

Any effective network is reliant on time and resources being available across the member organisations to be able to attend meetings. It is also reliant on member organisations to implement any actions resulting from network meetings. This can be difficult given everybody has their own projects to run. A network with no fixed constitution, chair, funding or project management in place makes achieving the collective aims and ambitions difficult. Therefore, any network, to be effective, will need to be resourced, staffed and have an appropriate and achievable framework agreed by network members.

A recommendation in the film education audit stated: “Film Hub Wales, Ffilm Cymru Wales and other partners as necessary, should consider seeking funds (including from Lottery and trust sources) to commission a Film Education Coordinator to broker exhibitor and practitioner relationships, encouraging and supporting film education activity, particularly focusing on inclusion and diversity in accordance with the current Ffilm Cymru Wales business plan. Reporting to the Ffilm Cymru Wales Audience, Regeneration and Engagement team, this dedicated function should help to alleviate pressure on film exhibitors and practitioners, building capacity in a strategic way where currently very little exists.”

This role could be expanded to include co-ordination of a Wales-wide youth film festival network to specifically connect education opportunities and new initiatives around youth festivals and young programmers. However, this may be too much for one person to take on.

Alternatively, management of the network could be tendered out to an appropriate organisation with an initial fee attached, with the proviso the contracted person/s seeks additional funds as part of their role.

A third option and one that avoids any potential duplication is to encourage youth festival participation in the remodelled Film Education Network. Zoom Cymru and others are already FEN members, which makes their participation in another network potentially difficult. This would ensure links with film education are more explicit and would have the added advantage of putting youth festivals in touch with venues and others involved in wider education activity, which could be mutually beneficial.

The minimum requirements for this network are as follows:

  • Advocacy and promotion of youth film festivals and youth film opportunities to young people;
  • 4 network meetings a year at youth film festivals around Wales to share best practice and discuss practical issues;
  • Partnership building as a collective to bring in Wales-wide, UK-wide and European partners;
  • Collaborative funding bids to grow and develop the sector;
  • Data and information sharing;
  • Programme sharing including sourcing of films;
  • Developing exchange programmes with European networks to allow Welsh young filmmakers to work with their European peers;
  • The promotion of Welsh young filmmakers work in Wales, the wider UK and Europe.

Given there is no other youth film festival network in the UK, Wales would be well placed to also partner with those UK festivals interested in networking and carry out joint partnership work that benefits the youth film sector.

“We need something that helps young people access opportunities much easier and connects up the youth film industry out there. It’s not quite there and not very well connected. Maybe there’s a way collectively where you can raise the profile of young filmmakers. We’re planning on doing a UK young filmmakers week in Feb 2017. If there was a network, we could create an opportunity to develop shared press packs and programmes of young filmmakers. There is a need for a network.” Noel Goodwin, BFI Future Fest

The single biggest challenge to the development and sustainability of youth film festival provision identified in the interviews is access to funding, a point noted by other research including the Film Education Audit by Bigger Picture Research.

Table 3.1: What are the biggest challenges your organisation faces?

Cyllid 6
Staff Capacity 2
Audiences 2
Changes in HE/FE Landscape 1
Advocacy 1

Source: Interviews with film festival organisers

Funding issues include:

  • Recent or potential cuts to existing funding;
  • Lack of capacity or resources to source and apply for funding;
  • Awareness of funding sources.

There is a general consensus that sponsorship is increasingly harder to find to fund festival activity. If sponsorship is secured, it’s more likely to be in-kind rather than cash funding.

“Our funding is a mixture, funding from BFI Festivals Fund, lots of year round partnership work and earned income this way. Not really any sponsors these days (sadly!)” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival

Youth Film festivals also do not have the human capacity to seek out trusts and foundations that are a direct fit for their needs. They will frequently have to bring in external assistance which is an added cost.

In Europe and the rest of the UK there are similar issues therefore Wales is not unique in this respect. All of the festival organisers interviewed mentioned future funding as an area of concern, although the interviews did reveal several different business models to funding a festival.

The European festivals interviewed are reliant on annual funding bids rather than core funding. This can cause some instability and doesn’t allow for a more long-term approach and vision but does allow them to continue their work if successful.

“Our Funding is based on regular funding from municipality, from the county and from the national film funding body. Other side is project funding where we always have to apply for funding.” Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso

“The Funding comes from our national film association, we apply with a project each year, and from the local government. Every year we have to apply. We do get sponsors but it’s mostly in kind or products.” Sanja Zanki, Four Rivers Festival, Croatia

In the wider UK only Leeds Young Film Festival has received funding from the BFI’s festival fund to develop its offer. It supplements this with an active programme of year round partnership work and earned income.

The Discovery Film Festival in Dundee and the BFI’s Future Film Festival are both funded in-house. The DCA in Dundee receives a grant from Creative Scotland and out of that funding allocation, the DCA makes a commitment to the film festival. Discovery are also keen on audiences paying for their cinema going experience, but ensuring value for money. 40% of their income comes from ticket sales. There is no sponsorship.

The majority of the Future Film Festival’s funding comes from its parent organisation the BFI. The festival secures other funding through charitable trusts, an Individual donor, and ticket sales income.

Funding for youth film festivals, from within those Welsh agencies responsible for public support, including Ffilm Cymru Wales and Film Hub Wales, is unlikely to increase from existing sources. In fact, it is likely to decrease over the next three years. New avenues need to be explored along with creative ways of exploiting available opportunities. One particular focus should be European funding. To date no festival or public agency in Wales has applied to Creative Europe, or alternative European funding such as Erasmus + to fund youth activity. This is down to capacity, awareness and perhaps a lack of confidence in building a successful application.

Recommendation 3: Alternative funding models for festivals should be explored, alongside new sources of support from Europe

Local authority funding and cash sponsorship in Wales is almost non-existent for the youth film sector. The Welsh Government’s Major Events Unit has committed its funding until 2018/19 and at the time of writing Ffilm Cymru Wales are still working on their revised audience development strategy. Given this challenging funding landscape, Welsh festivals need to look further afield for their finance.
In the first instance Film Hub Wales should look to develop an application to Creative Europe’s Audience Development Fund. Wales has yet to submit an application to this fund, which has been in operation since 2014.

There are two strands but of particular relevance is Strand 2: Audience Development Events: Events focusing on the programming of important and successful non-national European films on various distribution platforms and promotional activities, to create a word-of-mouth buzz.


  • Any proposal would need to comprise a minimum of 3 partners (project leader and at least 2 partners) from the audio-visual sector coming from 3 different countries participating in the MEDIA Sub programme;
  • Project shall target audiences in at least 3 different countries participating in the MEDIA Sub programme;
  • Projects shall focus on European films.

In addition, the call for proposals is focused on innovative and participatory strategies reaching out to wider, especially young, audiences with European films.

Film Hub Wales should explore developing a proposal with youth film festival partners in Wales and selected smaller nation representatives from the European Youth Cinema Network. Proposals will need to be innovative and distinct from those that have been funded for, but benefit the Welsh sector.

Other sources of European funding include Erasmus+ and Horizon 20/20. Film Hub Wales should seek to apply to Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Strategic Partnerships for youth. Organisations can apply to this fund to undertake transnational youth initiatives which bring together two or more groups of young people from different countries to deliver initiatives fostering entrepreneurship and social commitment. Transnational youth initiatives may address the following:

  • establishment of new networks of social enterprises, associations, clubs, NGOs;
  • development and delivery of courses and training on entrepreneurship education (in particular entrepreneurship for social benefit and the use of ICT);
  • activities that spread information, raise understanding and critical engagement with the media or other activities that encourage engagement with civic life;
  • artistic and cultural initiatives, e.g. theatre plays, exhibitions, music performances, discussion fora, etc.

This fund would be appropriate for bringing networks of young filmmakers together to develop their practice and give profile to Welsh Young filmmakers internationally.

In terms of industry and creative industries funding, there is very little contribution to the youth film festival sector in Wales. What contribution there is lies in sponsoring of awards or providing workshops and masterclasses. Ffresh is particularly strong in this area.

“All of our activity, both awards and in festival activity, is centred around routes to industry and bridging the gap between creative industries education and industry for the benefit of students.” Faye Hannah, Ffresh

The case needs to be made to the film and wider creative industries (particularly the strong broadcast sector in Wales, Welsh Government) that all youth film festivals and young filmmakers are critical to the future of the industry and they have a responsibility to contribute more to it. Arguably industry intervention comes late in the day, when young people have already chosen to study film at FE or HE, rather than targeting young people in primary and secondary school.

Particular focus should also be paid to skills gaps in the TV and film industries as youth film festivals can be an effective way of encouraging young people into the industry across a variety of roles. In this respect HE/FE institutions should have a wider engagement with youth film from an earlier age to encourage student take up of places on creative industry courses.

The BFI’s Future Film Fest is another good example of a festival working with industry to offer opportunities to its participants.

“Our partners include Into film and Creative Skillset who will help us with different age groups. We’ll also work with youth marketing and media agencies and we will have a media partnership with somebody such as Liberty.” Noel Goodwin, BFI Future Fest

Recommendation 4: Engaging Industry and the wider creative industries.

Film Hub Wales, Ffilm Cymru Wales and the Youth Festival Network should consider developing a strategy to fully engage industry with the youth film sector. Ideally this should also involve the young people themselves who have made films or wish to follow careers in film.

With Pinewood now having a base and profile in Wales, and the burgeoning TV and film sector here, there are opportunities for the youth film network as a collective to lobby the sector to fund activity, and offer placements to talented young filmmakers who wish to develop their skills.

Partnerships tend to be very localised so Wales and UK-wide partners should be sought to add value to the sector in Wales. This includes the likes of BAFTA Cymru, Creative Skillset, Next Gen Skills Academy, the BFI, and Universities with film courses. Wales needs to think bigger in terms partners and bring in organisations who aren’t necessarily based in Wales but want to work there.

Film Hub Wales and the Youth Film Network should also consider appointing a high profile ambassador to front any advocacy campaign to industry and Government. Ideally this would be somebody who has made films and understands the value of investing in young people making and watching films.

Every festival in Wales and seemingly across Europe has an awards ceremony, and talks of the value of recognising young filmmaker’s achievements. Indeed, it seems award ceremonies are as integral to a festival experience as the screenings and the workshops; a celebration of talent and an opportunity for young people to see their work on the big screen. In homage to the glitzy awards of Hollywood, the young people dress up, the red carpet comes out and it becomes an event for local press to cover.

“It gives young people experience of entering films into film festivals and will potentially help them navigate and gain confidence in submitting films to other festivals.” Rebecca Lee, Zoom Festival

The Into Film Awards, although not part of the festival, offers opportunities for the best young filmmakers across the UK to submit their work and be judged by top industry professionals.

In Ireland the Fresh Film Festival hosts a competition to find Ireland’s Young Filmmaker of the Year. The 2015 winning film Da Vincki and the Button took first place for Child-produced film at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival in October and Fresh Festival rightly proclaimed that “Young Irish Filmmakers are taking the world by storm….”

Recommendation 5: A young filmmaker award for Wales

In Wales, the Zoom Young Filmmaker awards are the closest to a national youth filmmaker award and entries are now recognised by BAFTA Cymru. However, there is added value in following the Irish model and developing a Wales young filmmaker award, sponsored by industry, to ensure wider press coverage and a bigger profile for young people making films in Wales.

In 2014 the British Council in Wales ran a Wales young artist award which was profiled on national radio, TV and print. Its success in achieving this coverage was in part due to the buy-in of the broadcasters at an early stage, but also that there was an international opportunity attached to it. A Wales Young Filmmaker of the Year award will need that buy in from the broadcasters and industry, a job for the network to lobby and publicise. Equally important however is that there is a major opportunity for the young filmmakers as part of the prize. This should, where possible, include benefits in Wales such as studio space at Pinewood, but also seek to network the winners of the prize with European opportunities. The British Council in Wales should be approached to help facilitate the international element.
When asked about barriers to development of youth festivals, funding wasn’t the only issue in Europe. More interestingly, European Festivals were also concerned at static or declining audiences for youth film festivals, particularly those festivals that screen films made by young people. This chimes with the sector surveys carried out by FilmHub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales that younger audiences are getting harder to reach.
“How do we get the inhabitants of Tromso to attend the festival? The international film festival at 9am on a Monday has full screenings. Doesn’t mean they are coming to our festival. This is a culturally aware city and people are aware of the offer, but it doesn’t guarantee us an audience. I was sitting at the international competition at the Up and Coming Festival, it’s not full at all and when you look closer they are all involved in the festival. Filmmakers or students. Yet the opening ceremony is always packed – politicians and film industry!” Hermann Greuel, Manager NUFF, Tromso

“We have good support from local press but it is difficult to get people to the theatre.” Little Elephant Festival, Maribor

It’s widely agreed among European festivals who belong to the Youth Cinema Network that there is still a lot of work to be done on youth film provision, particularly raising awareness of the films young people make. They argue there is a perception around young filmmakers work that it is not of sufficient quality to justify paying to see. Indeed, the YCN are tackling this as a priority over the next year with a number of initiatives designed to raise the profile of young filmmaking.

In addition, research shows that very few of the European festivals dedicated to young filmmakers show content from Wales. A survey of 6 festivals (see appendix 8) revealed no films from Wales had been received. This is partly down to awareness of opportunities for young filmmakers, but it’s also because there is no mechanism in place in Wales to assist young filmmakers in getting their films seen outside of the country.

“Some films we’ve made have been entered into other festivals. One went into Leeds. We wonder if they can go further. How do we get the films out there? It’s hard to get young people to enter their films into festivals, or they don’t know how to do it.” Sian Walters, Ffilmic

There is also a rich back catalogue of films made by young people in Wales which have never been seen beyond screenings in local communities.

“We need to research what we have in terms of films in Wales. Young filmmakers are invisible outside of Wales and often outside their own communities. Any youth film festival network should provide support, collaboration but also add in industry and skills” Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, Wicked:16

Recommendation 6: Youth film festivals can benefit from the programming of more established work as well as that of young filmmakers

Youth film festivals have an important role to play in audience development in Wales. Research by Film Hub Wales and Ffilm Cymru Wales indicates that many young people are not engaging with their local venues and quite often their only engagement with film will be through multiplexes and commercial content. Events or festivals such as Zoom or PICS have an opportunity to attract diverse audiences and build sustainable business models through ticket sales and audience development strategies. It’s essential that in addition to programming young filmmakers’ content the festivals seek to programme work that has been made by established directors on general release. Research indicates that the festivals which programme films just made by young people have much smaller audiences, but combining the two audience development strategies has led to greater engagement.

Recommendation 7: Promoting Young filmmaker’s films

The Welsh Youth Film Festival Network should be tasked with the promotion of youth filmmakers and their films. At a minimum this should include:

  • Working with the European Youth Cinema Network to ensure exchange and cross promotion of content
  • Signposting of opportunities for young filmmakers through channels such as Facebook/Twitter/
  • Marketing and PR support for award winning films in Wales
  • Curation of a programme and commitment from cinemas in Wales to screen young filmmaker content before appropriate features.
  • Curation of a best of programme which can be sent to festivals around the world as a package.
  • Curation of a best of programme for other festivals around Wales including Green Man, Festival No 6 and the Eisteddfod.

The Network should also be signed up to a short film distribution service too such as Film Freeway which allows submission of short films to film festivals all over the world.

There are still large parts of Wales that have no youth film festival provision or young programmer’s groups in local venues. This needs to be addressed as a priority to ensure young people have opportunities wherever they live.

Currently only one of the festivals in Wales, Zoom International Youth Film Festival, operates a Young Programmers group. However, there were positive responses from 15 other organisations in Wales to joining a network for young programmers. Clearly there is an appetite for this type of initiative and it should be integral to any youth film festival strategy. Young people need to be involved in all aspects of the festival, not just programming, but event management, marketing, promotion and stewarding.

“We have had placements in the past and like to support where it makes sense and we can offer something meaningful. We are about to start with a Creative Skillset Intern from Jan. Leeds Young Film has always offered work experience to young people who are committed to working in the film industry and we have then worked with them one to one to find other opportunities and to signpost them to other organisations. There is no set model.” Debbie Maturi, Leeds Young Film Festival

Recommendation 8 – Developing further opportunities for young people

There are plans for the Film Audience Network to develop a young programmer initiative and Wales will be part of this. The Youth Film Festival Network should ensure all members are offering young people the opportunity to volunteer across festivals to develop skills in the following areas:

  • Programming
  • Marketing
  • PR
  • Event management
  • Customer care

Clear progression routes should be signposted via Film Hub Wales, the youth festival network and partners to allow young people to explore careers not just in film production, but in the wider film industry. It would also be pertinent to seek funding for internships/apprenticeships at festivals.
In order to develop youth film festival provision a toolkit should be developed by the Youth Film Festival Network which can offer simple advice to anyone wishing to set up a new festival in an area with little or no provision.

Research Methods

The research comprised two elements:

  • Desk research
  • Consultation interviews

A1. Desk research

Desk research drawing on information held by Film Hub Wales, Ffilm Cymru Wales and the authors own knowledge of the sector.

A2. Youth Film Festival survey

A total of 14 festivals were identified via desk research and were interviewed either over the phone or face to face.

The desk research and interviews provided key insights into the current youth film festival landscape in Wales, the wider-UK and Europe.

Consultees were selected on the basis of their experience in the area, ensuring there was a representative spread of perspectives from across Wales and different types of festivals in the UK and Europe.

Interviews lasted no more than 30 to 45 minutes and were recorded. Full transcripts were produced so that verbatim quotes could be employed in the final report.

To view appendices, please download the full report below

FHW Youth Festivals Report ENG