Special Feature: The UK’s best film festivals

British films have become globally renowned for their rich dialogue, dazzling casts and groundbreaking innovation, and there’s no better way to celebrate the best of British and international cinema than with a film festival. Thankfully for cinephiles, there are dozens of events taking place across the UK every year, giving you plenty of opportunity to see the latest blockbuster and independent releases. One of these cinematic extravaganzas, the Cambridge Film Festival, kicks off tomorrow with its latest incarnation, running from 19-29 September, 2013. To celebrate the return of this prestigious feast of film, here’s our rundown of some of the finest festivals the British Isles has to offer.

Cambridge Film Festival
Every September, film buffs flock to the Cambridge Film Festival to enjoy viewings of independent films, some of which are shown outside on a gigantic inflatable screen. This festival has a more cosy, intimate feel, and its film showings, which are accessible to all, include old favourites as well as brand new releases. Planned outdoor venues for film showings this year include the grounds of Cambridge University Press and the steps of Cambridge University Library. This year’s festival will commence with an Opening Night Gala screening of Stephen Finnigan’s inspirational documentary Hawking, with the famous British physicist himself in attendance.

The Edinburgh International Film Festival
Taking place for two weeks each June, the Edinburgh International Film Festival was first established in 1947 and is the longest continually-running film festival in the world. It champions emerging new talent in the film industry whilst also staging interviews with established actors and writers to provide an insight into the inner workings of filmmaking. Showings include world premieres as well as the best of UK and international film.

BFI London Film Festival
The BFI London Film Festival, in partnership with American Express, is held in October each year, and is the largest festival of its kind in the UK. Each year it attracts thousands of visitors who come to see some of the 300 features, documentaries and shorts shown from almost 50 contributing countries. The festival also attracts growing numbers of celebrities who participate in Q&A sessions with audience members and bring a touch of Hollywood-style red carpet glamour to the affair. The festival celebrates both established and emerging talent, recognises excellence with award ceremonies and also offers visitors the chance to see newly-restored films.

Encounters International Short Film Festival
Finally, the Encounters International Short Film Festival takes place annually in Bristol and has been hailed as the most important short film festival in the UK. It attracts audiences of over 8,000 people for its celebration of animation and shorts, and has some fantastic networking opportunities for lucky spectators. It’s also a qualifying UK festival for the Baftas, Cartoon d’Or, the European Film Awards and the Oscars.

If you fancy being part of the fun, there’s no easier way to enjoy one of the many fantastic film festivals this year than with an American Express credit card. Visit American Express Online for details of all the membership awards and benefits, which can include cashback Membership Rewards and British Airways Avios.