In 2017 Bristol was designated UNESCO City of Film, a permanent global status that recognises the city’s achievements as a world leader in the field of film and the moving image.
Bristol now stands alongside Bitola, Bradford, Busan, Galway, Łódź, Qingdao, Rome, Santos, Sofia, Sydney, Terrassa and Yamagata as an official UNESCO City of Film.
Upon receiving this prestigious title, Bristol became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), a worldwide group of creative cities working together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development.
Being a City of Film means that Bristol can build on its well-established moving image industry, and further embed UNESCO’s values into how we watch, make and learn about film in Bristol.
The status is helping Bristol’s film community engage with and learn from other cities around the world, by forging international collaborations, creating new artistic exchange programmes and exploring cross-cultural projects that combine film with other mediums within the Creative City fields.
Here are just 3 examples of new projects coming to life under Bristol City of Film:
Cinema Rediscovered, presented by Watershed, is the innovative festival that brings the best digital restorations, contemporary classics and film print rarities back to the big screen in Bristol. The event now features a dedicated Bristol City of Film strand celebrating Bristol’s UNESCO status and film legacy. Highlights have included free outdoor public screenings on Bristol’s iconic harbourside, 4K restorations of classic films starring Bristol-born Cary Grant, screenings of work by Bristol screenwriter and film director Mike Hodges (Croupier, Black Rainbow), a Bristol Cinema Walk touring the city’s rich cinematic history and hidden treasures, and a deeper look at the fascinating life of Bristol-born Victorian inventor William Friese-Greene, the first person to present a movie camera to the world.
Bristol City of Film is championing a number of city projects that are tackling the Diversity and Equality in the production sector, such as the Bristol Culture Standard, Stepping Up Programme, Visualiser apprenticeship programme, Cables & Cameras and ScreenSkills Trainee Finder scheme. It is working to increase awareness of production careers and raise career aspirations from a young age in all communities belonging to this international city, where people speak 91 languages, come from 187 countries and practice at least 45 religions.
Film for Learning is a new 4-year teacher and senior leader professional development project delivered by Into Film and Boomsatsuma, funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Ten Bristol primary schools are benefiting from the programme, which aims to improve young peoples’ engagement, participation and attainment in literacy by supporting teachers and senior leaders to use film as a tool for teaching and learning.
"The reputation of the BBC’s Natural History Unit here in Bristol is incredible – it doesn’t matter where you go, North America, New Zealand or China... The broadcasters and the BBC make Bristol the undeniable home of natural history, and I think people in Bristol are pleased that this is the centre of creation. It’s not only a centre for Britain – it’s worldwide”.- -Sir David Attenborough
WHAT MAKES BRISTOL A CITY OF FILM?
Birthplace of motion picture pioneer William Friese-Greene and Hollywood icon Cary Grant, Bristol is home to Oscar®-winning entertainment studio Aardman Animations, cutting edge output from the BBC Natural History Unit and ‘Green Hollywood’, the largest concentration of films production wildlife content in the world. The city boasts 11 annual international film festivals and offers a choice of 11 cinemas, including Watershed, the internationally renowned film culture and digital media centre. Two world-class universities – UWE Bristol and University of Bristol – offer a total of 28 film-related degrees. The combined work of Bristol Film Office, a one-stop-shop for filming support and The Bottle Yard Studios, the largest production facility in the West of England, attracts a steady stream of productions into the city, including features like Stan & Ollie and Hellboy, and high end TV dramas like Poldark and Sanditon, generating inward investment worth more than £15 million per year. Over 130 production and postproduction companies contribute more than £140 million in a sector that employs approximately 3,700 people. Bristol’s diverse talent and focus on social mobility, coupled with its thriving TV sector, has helped secure its position as home to one of Channel 4’s new creative hubs, home to Drama, Factual and Popular Factual commissioning teams, as well as a Creative Diversity department, supporting on and off-screen diversity.