Brian Cox – a true British great of stage, screen and television – will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the forthcoming 20th Bradford International Film Festival.

The man who appeared on screen as the first Dr Hannibal Lecter, the insane but brilliant serial killer, and starred in the National Theatre production of King Lear – hurling himself on-stage in a wheelchair – is pleased to be coming to Bradford in April, when he will be interviewed on stage at the National Media Museum’s Pictureville Cinema.

Mr Cox, currently in a play in London, said he was very happy to be offered the award.

“This is the kind of award you want to get. The nice thing about it is that it’s for the whole body of your work. Your performance isn’t being pitted against somebody else’s performance,” he added.

British film director Sally Potter, who has been making films for 30 years including Ginger & Rosa, and Orlando, will be at the Cubby Broccoli Cinema in March to receive a BIFF Fellowship. A retrospective of her films will be shown between March 27 and April 6.

Previous recipients of this award include Terry Gilliam, Nicholas Roeg, Kenneth Branagh and Eric Sykes.

Tom Vincent, co-director of the festival, said: “We put the world before you, that’s what we have aimed for in our featured programme.”

The world will be coming to UNESCO’s first City of Film. Mr Vincent said guests would be coming from Tokyo, Amsterdam, Vienna and the United States.

American director James Benning is one of them. He will be presenting at the NMM an emsemble of work from students at the California Institute of Arts, founded by Walt Disney, as well as conducting a masterclass at Bradford University.

National Media Museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch said the programme of 127 films from all over the world would include The Madness of King George, written by Alan Bennet from his stage play, which was the first film shown at the very first Bradford Film Festival on March 10, 1995.

These films – comprising short films, big films, documentaries, scary films and Charles Urban’s pioneering science and nature films – will be shown at five venues including the NMM, Bradford University, Impressions Gallery in City Park, Bradford Cathedral and Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds.

The opening film is The Lunch Box, a film from India with a story like that of 84 Charing Cross Road – about two people who find each other through a series of letters. The closing night film is Locke, a tense drama starring Tom Hardy, about a man who enters a moral maze through a series of phone calls as he drives his car.

To mark the centenary of Charlie Chaplin’s greatest creation, the little bowler-hatted Tramp, there will be a family programme of The Immigrant, Easy Street and Modern Times at both Pictureville and the Hyde Park Picture House. The Widescreen Weekend follows the film festival, from April 10 to 13. The programme includes screenings of James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the 1961 version of West Side Story, Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More, and Michael Curtiz’s White Christmas.

Professor Sir Christopher Frayling will give an illustrated talk about the films of Sergio Leone on Saturday, April 12, at 4pm.


Brian Cox was talking about the nature of evil and the film role that opened the golden gates of Hollywood to him. The film was Manhunter, directed by Michael Mann in the mid-1980s. Cox played Dr Hannibal Lecter.
“What I love about Manhunter is that everything is implied. You see the aftermath, the horrible vestige of what was done,” he said.
“Lecter was the human aftermath of the human horror. People who behave in a non-emotional way, who don’t have empathy, that’s evil. That’s what Lecter was.
“I was lucky to get to do someone like that. It kick-started my Hollywood career. After that I didn’t go back to Hollywood for ten years, until the 1990s.
Brian Cox CBE was born in Dundee in June, 1946, the youngest of five children born to Roman Catholic Irish immigrants. His mother, Mary Ann, was a spinner who worked in jute mills. His father, Charles, was a butcher and then a shopkeeper. After his death in 1953, young Brian was raised by his four sisters.
In a recent interview he said: “I didn’t realise the power of nurture until I was going through my first divorce, in my 40s.
“I realised I have always had this incredible family, in the shape of my sisters, looking after me.
“I’d say that my experience of women is that they constantly move the goalposts – but then I think men invented the idea of goalposts.
“Women know there’s no such thing, that matters in life are endlessly changing. Men can’t understand that, so we’re always playing catch-up.”
Near his childhood home in Dundee were two cinemas, he recalled, The Broadway and The Royal. For the fatherless boy the cinema was a place of safety, a place of nourishing fantasy.
“I loved the whole idea of sitting in a darkened room, the lights going down. It’s what television and dvds cannot do for you. These multiplexes don’t give you that experience.
“It’s a great egalitarian culture that gives you cinema. Feudal societies, and this is one, believe me, gives you theatre. My first political, social sensibility, came from cinema, films about people struggling to be alive. I loved American cinema,” he added.
The bodying forth of stories about the struggle to live inspired him to believe that he too could be an actor. But first he had to learn his craft. At the age of 14 he was accepted by the Dundee Repertory Theatre.
After training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he got a place with Birmingham Rep, where he met a West Yorkshireman stage director, Peter Dews, whom he fondly remembers.
“He was one of the few working class boys who went to Oxford. He was a great character, a force of nature. He did all the original Age of Kings for television, Shakespeare’s history plays. He gave me lots of parts, Iago with Michael Gambon as Othello, Orlando in As You Like It,” he said.
Peter Dews, who got a Best Director BAFTA for that, also directed the episode of The Archers for BBC radion in which Grace Archer was killed in a fire.
Brian Cox, probably the nearest British character actor to Tommy Lee Jones, is currently appearing in Conor McPherson’s play The Weir, set in a pub in rural Ireland.
“These days your mettle is more tested on the stage. Cinema is more high-tec. The theatre really separates the boys from the men and the girls from the women.
“I love it. It’s renewed me. I haven’t enjoyed such a thing for a long time. The stage is a great place to be, but my first love is cinema. I adored it as a little boy.”
Brian Cox receives his Lifetime Achievement Award at Pictureville Cinema on Sunday, April 6 – the last day of the 20th Bradford International Film Festival.


Some of the movies and events you can catch at this year’s Film Festival:

20th Edition Surprise Sneaky Show; American Promise; Aningaaq; Auto Bambina; Bad Milo; Banya;Barre’s Silence; Before the Winter Chill; Beyond the Edge 3D; The Birth of a Flower; Blacksmith; Blue Ruin; The Borderlands; A Bouquet of Cactus; The Bourne Supremacy; Brian Cox Screentalk; British Birds of Prey; Brother; Cadet; The Castle of Sand; Charlie Says; Cheap Thrills; Cheese Mites (or What the Professor Saw in his Cheese); Class Enemy; The Coalminer’s Day; Comfortable; Costa da Morte; The Demon; Deseret; Diego Star; The Dirties; Double Graffiti; El Futuro; The Emigrant; Escape From Tomorrow; The Escapist; Everybody Street; Fairytale of the Three Bears; A Fallible Girl; Flo; Ginger & Rosa; The Gold Diggers; The Green Serpent; Greenland Unrealised; Hello Sunshine; Here I Am, Here I Am Not; Holiday; In My Corner; It’s Nice Up North; James Benning CalArts Harvest; James Benning on campus; The Joycean Society; Just Say Hi; Just the Way it Is; Karaoke Girl; The Kiss; L.I.E.; Lada; Lasting Winter; Lilting; Lineaus Lorette; Locke; Love, Love, Love; The Lunchbox; The Madness of King George; The Man Who Cried; Manhunter; Modern Times; Mother, I Love You; Mountain in Shadow; Mouton; Moving; Neon Spread; Never Die; Niche in the Market; Orlando; Phantom; Powerless; Prepare for the Enlightenment ; Rage ; Ricardo Bär; Route of the Moon; Rushmore; Sally Potter in conversation; Secrets of Nature with live music by Metamono; The Shadow Within; Sleep; Small Little Things; Stakeout; Stay the Same; A Story of Children and Film; The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears; The Strength and Agility of Insects; The Tango Lesson; Terra; To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly; Tokyo Dreams; Touch; Tracks; Tree Trap; The Triplet; Twenty Cigarettes; Velorama; The Visitor; Whale Valley; Wonder; Yes; Zero Focus; Zima