Bristol named UNESCO City of Film

Issue date: 01 November 2017


Film set in Bristol

Bristol's reputation as a world-leading film centre has been recognised with the announcement that it has been named a UNESCO City of Film.

The announcement by the Director-General of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) made this morning confirmed that Bristol has succeeded in its bid and will join the likes of Sydney, Galway, Rome and Bradford as a City of Film.

Manchester will also take its place alongside Bristol as part of the Creative Cities Network as it has been named a UNESCO City of Literature.

Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network is a network of creative cities working together towards a common mission for cultural diversity and sustainable urban development. The Creative Cities Network is currently formed by 116 Members from 54 countries covering seven creative fields: Crafts & Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, John Glen MP said: “This is fantastic news for both Bristol and Manchester and recognition of their global significance to film and literature. This UNESCO designation will enhance their reputation around the world and help forge strong partnerships with other nations.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said “This is fantastic news and a ringing endorsement of Bristol's position as a world leader in film production, education and training. Our reputation as a diverse and creative city has long helped to attract productions and talent across film, TV drama, animation and of course natural history. I hope this recognition will be a catalyst for bigger opportunities for the city and Bristolians to showcase Bristol as a centre for film.

“Bristol's cultural sector is a diverse industry that plays an important role in breaking down the barriers inequality creates. Our ambition is that the education, training and employment opportunities developed by the sector will benefit all communities across Bristol and being named as an UNESCO City of Film is a step towards meeting this goal.”

The UNESCO City of Film bid process began in 2016. Bristol's application was put together under the guidance of a management group comprising Bristol City Council, Bristol Film Office, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), University of Bristol, Screenology, Destination Bristol and Bottle Yard Studios.

Professor Jane Roscoe, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Creative Industries and Education at UWE Bristol, said: “UWE Bristol is delighted that Bristol has been invited to join the network, as one of the three partner universities involved with the bid. Bristol is a centre of excellence in film training and education, with world-leading undergraduate and postgraduate film degrees in film and television, the Old Vic Theatre School, as well as colleges and community centres offering informal learning opportunities.

The bid included the input of leading lights from across the city's film and TV sector from production, education, screen heritage and exhibition, including Watershed, Knowle West Media Centre, Calling The Shots, Aardman Animations, BBC Bristol, Encounters Festival, Bristol Festivals and many more.

It is a designation for the city and not a single year award meaning that Bristol will be known as a city of film for many years to come.

Bristol is a popular filming and cultural destination, with many pop-up screenings, popular locations, world-class training & education, a well-established skilled crew base, film festivals and the award-winning Watershed Cultural Cinema and Digital Creativity Centre. The city also offers a designated Film Office service supporting all types of production, provided by Bristol City Council and is home to The Bottle Yard Studios (also a Bristol City Council initiative), the largest dedicated film and TV studio facility in the West of England, an epicentre for production in the region with a large creative hub of facilities companies.

A recent report by the University of West of England, Go West! Bristol's Film and Television Industries (Spicer, A. and Presence, S. 2017), revealed that around 3,700 people are employed by independent film & TV companies in the Bristol region working in specialist sub clusters of natural history, animation, factual, post-production, corporate and facilities. £140.3 million was generated by the sector in 2016.

Dr Charlotte Crofts, Associate Professor of Filmmaking at UWE Bristol said: “As a filmmaker, educator and passionate Bristolian, it's great that the city has been recognised not only for its strong production base, its vibrant film culture and strong educational provision, but also for our ambition in making film a vehicle to enhance the future development of the city. We can't wait to get going on our action plan and for Bristol to collaborate with and learn from other cities in the network."

Titles recently made in Bristol include upcoming feature films The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (dir. Mike Newell) and Stan & Ollie (dir. Jon S. Baird), as well as TV credits Poldark (BBC One), Sherlock (BBC One), Doctor Who (BBC One), Broadchurch (ITV), The White Princess (STARZ), The Crystal Maze (Channel 4). In 2016/17, Bristol Film Office registered a total of £18.3 million inward investment generated by film and television production and a 30% rise in number of productions assisted to shoot in the city.

Fiona Francombe, Site Director of The Bottle Yard Studios said: "This is a great result, we warmly welcome the recognition that UNESCO City of Film status will bring to Bristol, a city with film and TV production at its core. In recent years The Bottle Yard Studios has attracted new attention from producers at home and abroad, providing fresh opportunities for the local industry, but it's also important to note that the longevity of Bristol's filming heritage is testament to its outstanding specialist workforce. The art directors, set builders, camera operators, supporting artistes, make-up artists, costume designers, visual effects and post production specialists – talented experts that help this sector stand out as an essential cornerstone in Bristol's cultural and economic success. This new status will raise Bristol's profile on the international stage even further. It will bolster our reputation as a city that offers the full package of support and really understands the language of filmmaking."

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