The BFI's blockbuster season for 2020 celebrates Japanese cinema.

We invite cinemas, festivals and arts producers to present seasons, events and screenings that celebrate the form, history, and potential of Japanese film over four months from 1 May 2020 until September 2020.

Send us your pitch for a project as part of the season, and if it meets the brief and offers something special for audiences, we can help with costs.

If you are interested in taking part in another way, read on for information about touring packages available to book for your venue.

What is the timeline?

  • Applications Open:  20 January 2020
  • Applications Close: 6 March 2020
  • Decisions made: 20 March 2020

We expect you to deliver your project during the Japan 2020 season which runs from 1 May 2020 until September 2020.  After this date, we will not support activity.

How much funding is available?

You can apply for up to £12,000 to support special screening, marketing and event costs as part of the season.

Films that are available to book

BFI releases and reissues.  BFI distribution will issue at least 2 releases as part of the season.  Contact them directly to find out more about dates and terms.

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) Tour.  ICO will offer a touring package of films related to BFI Japan available to UK film exhibitors.  Book these titles directly through ICO from May 2020.

Japan Foundation.  Japan Foundation will be operating their touring programme in February/March.  This tour is not supported by Major Programmes but you may wish to consider using it as a prelude to the Summer season.

Other ways to get involved in the season

Screening Engagement funding - we'll open a smaller funding pot in May to help with one-off event costs as the season gets underway.

UK-wide campaign -  we manage the marketing campaign for UK-wide activity, including national listings.  You can send us dates and booking links for your events and we will help to publicise them.  We also organise national outdoor and digital advertising, so if we know about your project in advance, we can include it in these materials.

Programme research, touring special events and speaker suggestions - take a look at our main page for the season  to find out more about film lists, special events and resources available.

Access support for Film Audience Network applicants

The BFI is committed to making its funding accessible for all. We can provide assistance to applicants who are D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, Disabled or neurodiverse people, and people with sight loss, where this support is needed in order for someone to make a funding application. This means we can contribute to specific costs involved with completing an application form.

Find out more about funding access support costs.

nausicaa 2 NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, dir. Hiyao Miyakazi, 1984

About BFI FAN Major Programmes

Major Programmes is a ‘cross FAN’ project, led by Film Hub Midlands, which delivers two UK wide audience facing programme of creative, accessible, and culturally ambitious screenings and events each year, across the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN).

Our Objectives 

  • Increase audience engagement with film and deepen the quality of cultural experience
  • Increase the confidence of FAN members to screen a wider range of films
  • Boost the engagement of cinema audiences aged 16-30
  • Increase the diversity of cinema audiences in independent venues
  • Raise the profile of film as an art form and create a dialogue about its place in our cultural life
still the water STILL THE WATER, dir. Naomi Kawase, 2004

About your pitch

Your pitch must respond to our creative brief and show us what you will add to the UK-wide season.

We are also keen to support activity that helps to achieve wider aims for the BFI and FAN around audience development, access and inclusion.

For example:

  • Projects with the clear potential to attract new or under-served audiences to Japanese cinema
  • Celebrating film heritage with fun interactive events and contemporary contextualisation
  • Tapping into an appetite for collective viewing (film, TV and online) and discussion, with a particular focus on innovation and reaching new audiences and audiences aged 16-30 through site specific events and outreach
  • Programming which enhances or extends an existing venue or festival's  core programme
  • Programming which offers audiences in underserved areas films which they wouldn't otherwise have the chance to see
  • Programming to support and promote lesser-known works that otherwise wouldn’t get shown, including archive, forgotten films, and under-exposed viewpoints
  • Projects that celebrate the diversity of UK audiences for cinema

Access and inclusion

We expect you to think about access for your project, particularly if you are targeting people who don't typically attend or have access to your events.

We will ask you to tell us what you will do to  remove barriers to participation as part of your application.

Costs we will support

  • Screening costs, print fees (exclusive of ICO touring titles)
  • Marketing & Promotion costs
  • Project Coordination
  • Curation and contextualisation
  • Wrap around event costs e. g. musicians, performers, event staffing
  • Production costs that are central to the delivery of your project

Costs we will NOT support

  • Film production. Our funding is primarily for audience development therefore we will not fund film production, standalone publications or talent development activity.
  • Fundraisers and free screenings. We also do not generally support free screenings presented as fundraising activity for other causes, as our aim is to strengthen and widen engagement with film culture.
  • ICO Touring fees. We will not support booking fees for ICO tour titles, as these are already subsidised by BFI.
  • Projects delivered outside of BFI FAN. Our funding is only available to members of the BFI Film Audience Network.  If you are based in the UK and show films then you can join this network for free.  Contact your local Film Hub to find out more.

Budgeting and subsidy per head

We want our projects to reach as many people as possible, and try to make pragmatic judgements around costs and impact when we are allocating funds.

As a guide we suggest the following awards would aim to reach the accompanying number of audiences.

This is a guide and we are flexible, particularly if your project is targeting under-served audiences or clearly addressing access issues.


Amount Awarded  Expected admissions
 £500  100
 £2,500  400
 £10,000  2,500


We do not fully fund projects and will expect to see box office, in kind or other contributions in your budget.

Environmental Sustainability

BFI FAN is committed to minimising the environmental impact of the work we support and is now asking all recipients of funding to do what they can to contribute to this aim.  For Japan 2020, this means we will ask you what measures you could take to keep the environmental impact of this project to a minimum, as part of your application.

Some inspiring examples of exhibitors doing work in this area include Scott Cinemas, HOME, Tyneside Cinema, Curzon and Depot.    The BFI website also has a list of resources and sources of information you can consult.

weathering-with-you-e1571150358330-1108x0-c-default WEATHERING WITH YOU, dir. Makoto Shinkai, 2019

How to submit your proposal

  1. Read the Creative Brief, and the guidance above, to make sure your proposal is eligible for support
  2. Apply using the online form
  3. Download and complete a project budget using the template provided on our funding page, and email this to

Advice for your application

Our application form asks for key information about the number of people you will reach, the film titles you will present and your marketing strategy so that we can see how well it fits with the season and whether the proposal is realistic.  The more specific you can be about these elements the better we can assess your proposal.

If you are having trouble completing an application or would like to talk to us before you submit a proposal please get in touch via either or by phone: 0115 850 7851

How we assess your pitch 

Project pitches are reviewed by Film Hub Midlands team and the BFI Blockbuster programme lead. Project pitches may be referred to external programme advisors for a second opinion.

We’ll look at your proposal and budget to make a decision about whether we can support it.  As part of this we will consider:

  • what you want to do and how well the project meets the creative brief
  • the creative quality of the idea, partnerships and team behind it
  • whether it will reach any priority audiences for BFI FAN
  • value for money including subsidy-per-head
family-romance-llc-2019-001-japanese-couple-in-profile FAMILY ROMANCE, dir. Werner Herzog, 2019

What Happens Next

If your project pitch is successful

If we agree to support your project, we’ll send you an offer detailing target audience and any award conditions, which will then form the basis of the funding agreement.

If your project pitch is unsuccessful

If we’re unable to support your project, we’ll let you know and then offer feedback and advice to help you move forward.

Successful Ideas - Agreement

After you accept your offer and any targets or conditions, we will send an agreement to confirm the terms of your award, and the project you will deliver.

Payment schedule

Your funding agreement will include a payment schedule and any conditions that need to be met before payment is made.

As a rule, we generally stage payments 60% on receipt of signed contract and 40% after completion, when we have received your reporting information. .

We reserve the right to vary these ratios for larger-scale or risky projects.

perfect-blue-1998-girl-sees-fishes-bfi-00m-z34 PERFECT BLUE, dir. Satoshi Kon, 1998

National Lottery credit and conditions

As this award will be coming from National Lottery Funds we expect you to fulfil funding conditions that apply for all National Lottery Funded projects.

When you receive a funding agreement it will contain clauses on the following:


You must use the BFI Film Audience Network and BFI logo plus season-specific branding on your website and marketing materials. This includes prominent acknowledgement of the National Lottery, as it is crucial that we promote to the general public how well The National Lottery supports film in the UK.

Evaluation and Reporting 

We need to evaluate projects and programmes to make sure they are fit for purpose and so that we can make them better.

We ask you to report on progress at the end of your project through three templates:

  • Narrative Report 

We ask you to complete a narrative report answering questions on how the activity was delivered, identifying highlights and challenges.

  • Audience Admissions

We ask you for a list of screenings and admissions data, based on audience surveys which we’ll provide to you

  • Final budget

We’ll ask you for a complete expenditure report, to make sure the funds have been spent how we agreed, and to show our funders any leverage on the programme overall.

  • Demographic and Survey Data 

You must use the Film Audience Network audience survey, to capture information back from your audience. We’ll identify the number of responses we expect back from you depending on the size of your project.

We only ask for this data in an aggregated form, and won’t be asking you to transfer any personal data about your audience.

Depending on the scale of your project, we may ask you to identify additional metrics that indicate how a project is progressing.

battle_royale-1556056929-726x388 BATTLE ROYALE, dir. Kinji Fukasaku, 2000

Contact Information

To discuss any aspect of your project pitch, your ideas,  or to ask a question about our seasons, please feel free to contact us.

telephone: 0115 850 7851

Our office hours are Monday - Friday 0900-1700