Cambridge 42nd Film Festival

A Cinematic Celebration with a Touch of Tradition

‘What is your favourite season?’ 


The words of the iconic Moira Rose ring true at this time of year. As the golden hues of Autumn paint the canvas of Cambridge, many find themselves cocooned within layers of knit sweaters, cradling pumpkin spiced lattes and binging on shows like the ‘Gilmore Girls’. But for the film aficionados, the season signifies something even more special: the onset of the awards season. As London, New York, and Venice pave the way for prestigious awards, Cambridge is not far behind with its own glamorous cinematic celebration: The Cambridge Film Festival.

A Look into the History of Cambridge Film Festival

The Cambridge Film Festival, rooted in 1977, began its journey at the single screen arts cinema on Market Passage. The essence of its inception was to showcase the finest of international cinema and spotlight the works of ‘forgotten’ filmmakers and films that had either been out of circulation or remained unseen for years. This noble endeavour of ‘rediscovery’ has since become a beloved tradition, making the retrospective segment of the festival a fan favourite.

Over the years, the Cambridge Film Festival has carved its niche as one of the UK’s premier film festivals. Shoulder to shoulder with giants like Edinburgh and the BFI, Cambridge takes pride in being among the UK’s longest-standing film festivals. Its BAFTA and BIFA-qualifying status further elevates its prominence. A film that garners an award at Cambridge is ushered onto the path for BAFTA and BIFA considerations.

Celebrating Achievements: The Punting Way

True to the Cambridge spirit, the festival’s awards are a nod to the city’s cherished punting tradition. The Golden Punt Audience Awards honour the Best Fiction Feature and Best Documentary Feature, while the Crystal Punt Audience Award recognises the Best Short Film. It was a privilege for us at the Traditional Punting Company to have witnessed Jens Meurer’s ‘Seaside Special’ clinch the Best Documentary Feature in 2022.

What’s Brewing at the 42nd Cambridge Film Festival?

This year, the festival is set to dazzle attendees with its brilliant lineup. Leading the charge is Yorgos Lanthimos’s ‘Poor Things’ for the opening gala, boasting a stellar cast that includes Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, and Ramy Youssef. This psychological thriller promises to challenge and redefine traditional narrative boundaries. Capping off the festival is another cinematic gem, ‘All Of Us Strangers’, starring the dynamic duo of Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal.

Adding another feather to its cap, the festival is collaborating with the BFI for a retrospective homage to the iconic British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. ‘Through the Looking Glass: A Journey into Powell and Pressburgers Dreamweaving Cinema’ is an initiative that ensures classics like ‘The Red Shoes’, ‘Tales of Hoffman’, ‘I Know Where I Am Going’, and ‘Orlando’ reach newer generations of cinema lovers.

Diving Deeper into the Second Annual Industry Day

The Industry Day at the Cambridge Film Festival is a curated event designed especially for filmmakers and film enthusiasts from the Cambridgeshire and East Anglia region. Building on its inaugural success, the day offers a rich blend of short film screenings, interactive Q+As with industry experts, dynamic panel discussions, and networking opportunities, all aimed at fostering collaboration, enhancing skills, and celebrating the region’s cinematic talents. It’s an unparalleled opportunity for budding and established filmmakers to connect, learn, and share in the magic of cinema.

Embracing Cambridge with the Traditional Punting Company

At the heart of Cambridge’s culture is the timeless tradition of punting. As Friends of the Festival, we, at the Traditional Punting Company, believe that complementing a day of cinematic exploration with the serene experience of punting is the perfect way to truly embrace what Cambridge has to offer. As you glide along the University College Backs, allow yourself to be immersed in the rich history and breathtaking beauty of Cambridge. After all, what better way to reflect on a film than amidst the tranquil waters and architectural marvels of this historic city? What’s more patrons and delegates of the Film Festival receive an exclusive discount when booking punting in Cambridge online with us.

So, as the curtains rise for this year’s Cambridge Film Festival, let’s celebrate cinema, tradition, and the unique charm of Cambridge. From the silver screen to the shimmering waters, there’s a story waiting to be discovered at every corner.

Posted on October 20th, 2023, by the Traditional Punting Company Editor