BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Residential 2024

Applications for the 2024 BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Residential are now open.

The online application form is available here. The closing date for applications is 1st July, 2024 at 2pm.

The BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Residential is part of BFI Film Academy, a national talent programme supported by the Department for Education and the National Lottery.

For more information about BFI Film Academy Specialist Courses please click here.

Our course is a residential that takes place at Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, where we will welcome 30 young people from across the UK to take part.

The BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Course 2024 is a cinema programming training programme taking place for one week in person (29 July - 2 August) and on three Saturdays online this summer. Open to 16 to 19-year-olds from across the UK, the course provides the chance to learn about film programming, marketing and distribution and eventually put on a film festival at Showroom Cinema. So, whether you’re a filmmaker, blogger, regular cinema goer, or someone who simply enjoys watching and talking about films, this exciting and intensive residential programme will give you a real insight into the world of cinema. Our previous alumni have gone on to work at Warner Brothers, Sheffield DocFest and much more.

Click here to read a blog post from a Young Programmer about last year's festival. The 2023 film programme included Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Black Swan, Tomboy, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

“The experience of organising this festival as well as the tasks leading up to its production has been an incredible opportunity to evolve new skills” - BFI Film Academy Young Programmer

"The BFI Academy has been a fantastic and rewarding programme, enabling us to develop our very own unique festival with direct feedback and advice from industry professionals that I admire. It has truly been an unforgettable experience!" - BFI Film Academy Young Programmer

We offer a generous bursary scheme to cover any costs that will enable you to take part. You will be mentored throughout your time at the residential and will get the chance to meet various industry professionals on a daily basis who can give you tips on how to kick-start your career in film. The course will be delivered with a residential week in Sheffield, followed by three Saturdays of online masterclasses, regular catch-up sessions over Zoom, and culminating with the film festival organised by our students taking place in February 2025. Speakers joining us for the course include Danny Leigh, Altitude Distribution, BIFA, Hannah Strong and filmmakers from across the UK.

The fee for the course is calculated on a sliding scale which is means tested, and can range anywhere from £0 to £210 dependent on household income. However, a generous bursary scheme ensures that the cost will not prevent anyone from taking part — if you have the talent we will make sure you can attend. Depending on your financial circumstances we will fund some or all of the cost. We also have a separate fund that can help with any travel, childcare or other prohibitive costs.

BFI Residential logos

How do I apply?

The deadline for applications is Monday 1st July at 2pm. Application is via the Jotform below. To avoid losing your answers, we recommend copy and pasting the questions into a Google Doc and saving your progress.

What is involved?

By taking part in the BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Course 2024, you will:

  • Explore all aspects of film exhibition whilst working alongside well-known industry professionals.
  • Gain a real insight into the exciting world of cinema, providing you with skills and experience that are essential to becoming part of our future film industry.
  • Watch a range of cinema and work with well known film critics, festivals, film makers and those working within the industry such as BIFA, Altitude Films, Sheffield Doc/Fest and more
  • Work in teams to build your dream film festival over the four week programme. All teams will have the opportunity to programme their own films as part of an in person festival at Showroom Cinema in Sheffield.
  • Become part of the BFI Film Academy Alumni and access exclusive opportunities, advice and professional development after the course has finished.

Who can apply?

To apply for the BFI Film Academy Specialist Programming Course 2024 you must:

  • Be 16-19 year old on the first day of the course.
  • Have an interest in the film industry.
  • Be able to commit to the duration of the course.

2024 course dates

The course takes place between 29 July 2024 and February 2025 on the following dates.

29 July - 2 August - In-person Residential

Saturday 17 August - Online Masterclasses & Film Screenings 10am - 3pm

Saturday 24 August - Online Masterclasses & Film Screenings 10am - 3pm

Saturday 31 August - Online Masterclasses & Film Screenings 10am - 3pm

There will also be online drop-in development sessions on Wednesdays if needed. The film festival to showcase the learners work will be taking place in person, at Showroom Cinema at a later date in February.

Wednesday 23 October - Online Project Catch-up Session 5.30pm - 7pm

Wednesday 27 November - Online Project Catch-up Session 5.30pm - 7pm

Wednesday 15 January 2025 - Online Project Catch-up Session 5.30pm - 7pm

February 2025 - Film Festival, In-person, dates TBC.

The Speakers - More Speakers TBC

Danny Leigh

Danny Leigh - Film Critic

Danny Leigh is the Chief Film Writer at the Financial Times. Previously, he was the senior curator of fiction in the BFI National Archive from 2017 to 2019. Danny has worked in film journalism more than 20 years.

BFI - Little White Lies

Hannah Strong - Little White Lies

Hannah Strong is the Digital Editor of Little White Lies magazine. Born and raised in Sheffield, she attended The University of Leeds, and has written for publications including GQ, Vulture, The Guardian and Dazed & Confused magazine. Hannah's first book, Sofia Coppola: Forever Young is released May 28th by Abrams New York.

Flo Cartwright

Flo Cartwright - British Independent Film Awards

Flo Cartwright has over 8 years experience in events, fundraising and membership management, having worked for organisations including SOAS, University of London and One World Media. She has also worked on set providing production support to both short and feature films. Flo is currently the Awards and Marketing Manager at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). Her current role helps to support and celebrate the best new British independent film releases.

Justine Atkinson

Justine Atkinson

Justine Atkinson is the founder and director of Aya Films, a distribution and media education company. She has recently worked on the creation of an app – Curate-It – which is a platform for learning about film curation. Curate-It has been used by Edinburgh International Film Festival, Dublin International Film Festival and the University of Glasgow. In 2023 she completed a PhD on curatorial practice in film at the University of Glasgow.


Curate-It is a course that provides participants with all they need to know to implement their own screening event. The course makes knowledge about film curation easily accessible within a digital space and consists of an eight-step programme to teach participants about film theory, film curation and the practical and logistical elements needed to create film events. The eight steps – Watch-it, Analyse-it, Curate-it, Finance-it, Market-it, Execute-it, Evaluate-it and Screen-it – consist of written information, activities, tailored reading lists, videos featuring film experts sharing their knowledge, and the ability to show films on a public facing VoD platform.

Melanie Iredale

Melanie Iredale – Director of Reclaim the Frame

Melanie Iredale (she/her) is a film curator, cine-activist, and Director of Reclaim The Frame: a charity (formerly known as Birds’ Eye View) with a mission to champion marginalised gender-led films, to build community for them, and to advocate for equity in all film spaces. Reclaim The Frame specialises in creating safer spaces within cinema exhibition and through training programmes, across the UK and increasingly internationally.

Prior to this, Melanie was Deputy Director at Sheffield DocFest 2014-2021, overseeing the development of its arts/interactive programme and co-programmer of its Rhyme & Rhythm strand, and served as Director of Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival 2009-2014, commissioning moving image art and performances that went on to win awards at International Film Festival Rotterdam and beyond. Melanie has served on a number of juries internationally, including the Teddy Awards at Berlinale, and exec produced Rebel Dykes, which brought the queer, ally, and activist communities together at 100+ festivals around the world.

Isra Al Kassi

Isra Al Kassi – Co-founder & Co-director, T A P E Collective

Isra is a UK based Iraqi-Swedish producer, writer and curator and has a background in events and venue management. She is the co-founder of  T A P E Collective, curating touring seasons and acquiring films for UK distribution. She also works in audience development, more recently with Escapes & the BFI London Film Festival. 


Ryan Finnigan – Programme Manager, Showroom Cinema

As Programme Manager at Showroom Cinema, Ryan oversees the full cinema programme including booking films and working with external partners and organisations. Outside of film programming, he is a part-time PhD candidate researching digital film restoration at Sheffield Hallam University. Prior to this, Ryan studied Film Studies BA (Hons) and an MA in Writing, and subsequently worked as a professional copywriter and content creator. He has extensive writing experience, mostly on film, including reviews, articles, and a book on the worst film ever, The Room. His most recent piece was for Little White Lies on the BFI’s collection of Central Office of Information films in March 2023.


Isobel Harrop - Assistant Programmer: Young Audiences

Isobel is the Assistant Programmer for Young Audiences at Showroom. Her role involves engaging with and increasing numbers of young people within Showroom audiences alongside other day-to-day programming work. Starting as a Young Programmer at Storyhouse, Chester, after initially going to university for English and Philosophy, she went on to study Film Studies Programming and Curation and the National Film and Television School. Following this and before joining Showroom in Spring 2023, she returned to work at Storyhouse as a Cinema Assistant and freelance programmer.

More speakers to be confirmed!

What our alumni say...



What I enjoyed about the Residential was meeting like-minded people with a keen interest in film and having a project over the coming months putting together an event that we could be proud of when the time came. It also gave me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone by helping present the screening in front of a large audience. Furthermore, it taught me key skills in putting together an event and led to further opportunities like being a part of the Showroom Young Programmers which I thoroughly enjoy where I put on more screenings and contribute to the blog. So, all in all, I would highly recommend taking this chance.

You can read the blog post I wrote about the Young Programmers festival put on by students of the Residential here.



The programming course and residential stay was an amazing opportunity. I had never travelled outside of London and was worried about travelling to Sheffield alone and staying with people I had never met before. As soon as I stepped foot in Sheffield I learnt that I had nothing to worry about! Everyone was so friendly and willing to talk that you would think you had been friends for a long time!

The course enabled me to get out of my comfort zone, meet new people and gain invaluable film knowledge. I enjoyed the accommodation and amazing food whilst also spending time with everyone on the course. I am currently studying A levels in essay based subjects. I have been accepted onto a 30 month university level film course with Ghetto Film School London which I am very excited to start this summer!

The programming course gave me extensive film knowledge that I will be able to apply in the future but also invaluable life experience by meeting new people from different backgrounds and developing independence. It was amazing to see the hard-work we had done in summer come to life in each festival. I would definitely recommend this course and encourage students to apply and not be put off by cost (there are bursaries) or how much experience they already have!



Attending the BFI Academy residential was a great experience for a multitude of different reasons! Being from North Devon and with no connections into the industry, I doubted my ability to ever pursue a career in film and TV. This course offered me the opportunity to visit a new city; attend masterclasses with industry professionals; explore new cinema (independent and short films); meet and network with talented young creators; and collaborate to programme our own film festival. This course offers an insight into an essential side of the industry, making me a stronger filmmaker.

From this course, I have been able to keep in contact with other aspiring filmmakers and hear about upcoming opportunities through the BFI Alumni newsletter. Since concluding the residential I have been working as Production Management Apprentice at BBC Studios, worked on Eurovision (2023) and worked on short films (including NFTS productions).



The BFI Film Academy has been one of my most treasured experiences and I’m incredibly thankful for everything it has taught me and all of the people I have met because of it. I have learnt so much about working with new and bigger groups of people, entering the industry and it has really changed my perspective of the path I want to take with my career. It has been so much fun and such a rich, fulfilling learning experience that I will carry with me into my future. I am incredibly proud of everyone on the course for working so hard.

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