Specialised Cinema



The BFI’s definition of ‘specialised film’ relates to those films that do not sit easily within a mainstream and highly commercial genre. The BFI believes in the diversity of film and of audiences. We want films to find their audiences and audiences to build their appreciation of a wide range of films. A wider knowledge of film gives us a wider knowledge of different cultures and ideas. We believe that the on-going development of film culture relies on both familiarity with the great titles of film history, and on experimentation with new ideas and forms.


Foreign language films with subtitles
In almost all circumstances foreign-language films will be classified as ‘specialised’ due to most audiences’ lack of familiarity with and resistance to subtitles.


In almost all circumstances feature-length documentaries intended for theatrical distribution will be classified as ‘specialised’ because non-fiction cinema tends to have a narrower appeal than fiction.


Archive / Classic films
Films from the beginning of cinema’s history until the last 10-20 years, older titles shown again on the big screen so that today’s audiences can experience important or overlooked titles in their original format.


Artists Film / Experimenta
Feature-length films or programmes of shorts that express an artistic vision or particularly experiment with the film form for aesthetic purposes.


Short Film Programmes
Short films give new film makers a chance to learn their craft, find their cinematic voice and to see how audiences respond to their work. Classic short films can give audiences the chance to see the first films by now famous filmmakers, and students of filmmaking the chance to see the format at its best. For these reasons, feature-length (70 mins+) programmes of short films will be considered.


Other Criteria
Films that fall outside of the above parameters may also be considered on the basis of unusual or undefinable genres; complex and challenging subject matter; innovative or unconventional storytelling/narrative structure.


Films with stories and subjects relating to diversity (for example Black, Asian and minority ethnic people; disability; LGBT) may also be classified as ‘specialised’.


British film
‘British’ films are those that are in receipt of a ‘Certificate of a British Film’ under the terms of Schedule 1 of the Films Act 1985 as amended i.e. films that pass the UK’s Cultural Test.


‘British’ films do not include films certified as British under any of the UK’s co-production treaties or under the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production for the purposes of eligibility for this funding.