CONCERNS have been raised about the future of Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF) in light of a planned review of the National Media Museum's festival programme.
Irfan Ajeeb, co-director of Bradford's international film festival 'Beyond the Mango', said the "writing is on the wall" for BIFF and he warned that scrapping it would have "serious repercussions" for Bradford's City of Film status.
The National Media Museum said the review would provide the opportunity to "rethink and reframe" the festival programme.
A statement from the museum said: "The festival programme has been a core part of the National Media Museum film strategy for more than 20 years.
"In order to make sure that they remain at the heart of what we do, and that we remain at the heart of the first UNESCO City of Film, we are about to undertake a thorough review of our strategy.
"We see festivals as a huge opportunity to build new audiences for film, as well as providing platforms for innovative artists from around the world.
"It’s also vital that our festivals are cost-effective and attract support from the industry. The aim is to re-launch with a new programme for festivals that plays to our strengths, identifies a meaningful niche for the museum, and provides opportunity for growth and development."
A museum spokesman said although visitor numbers to this year's festival had dropped by just over 300 people to 10,821, sales for ticketed events were actually 5.6 per cent up on 2013, and up 21 per cent compared to 2011.
Mr Ajeeb countered: "Reviews are a bad sign, I see it as an indication that there will be no festival next year.
"Whenever a review takes place it means something is going to be cancelled, it happened to 'Bite the Mango' in 2009.
"I am extremely angry because I believe the museum has been complacent, with no passion for this festival to work.
"It would be laughable not to have a major film festival in a UNESCO City of Film, but without a festival, there is a real danger of the title being taken away."
Mr Ajeeb added that rather than concentrating on big-name guests from the South, festival organisers should be engaging with communities in Bradford.
David Wilson, Bradford City of Film Director, said: "I have been invited to the review and will be calling for more engagement with Bradford communities.
"It is timely, after 20 years of the film festival, to see how some things could be done differently.
"The way we consume film has changed radically over the years, and this is an opportunity to see how the festival could be changed and expanded."
Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, Bradford Council's executive member for culture, said: "I love the film festival, but after 20 years of the same format I can understand why the museum wants to have a review.
"I'd like to see the festival include much more of the talent we're seeing coming out of the Bradford community, such as the Whistling Woods International Film School at Bradford College."