A MAJOR row is brewing after the National Media Museum revealed it was abandoning the Bradford International Film Festival, which attracted Hollywood heavyweights to the city for 20 years.

The move will come as a further blow to fans of the museum, in the wake of a controversial decision by its bosses to send one of its world-famous photography collections to London.

The latest news has provoked anger from many senior figures involved in film locally, with some saying it may even put Bradford's status as a UNESCO City of Film at risk.

Bradford Council leader David Green said he was now seeking an urgent meeting with museum bosses.

He said: "The loss of such a prestigious event is one of real concern. We would want to talk to the museum to identify what measures they are putting in place to replace the festival."

Museum director Jo Quinton-Tulloch said they were hoping to develop a new festival themed on computer games as part of an increased focus on technology.

She said: "Film remains a very important part of our future plans, but the festival programme needed changes to make it sustainable and aligned with the museum’s new focus on the science and culture of light and sound technologies.

"While the International Film Festival is not part of these plans, this year we intend to again welcome cinemagoers from around the world to an extended Widescreen Weekend, and we are working towards a festival looking at games and gaming.

"This is in addition to the recent £800,000 upgrade to our IMAX cinema, which has attracted nearly 29,000 visitors since reopening, as well as working with other organisations to make Bradford the place to see film."

The Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF), which attracted big names to the city including John Hurt, Kenneth Branagh, Imelda Staunton, Alan Bennett and Ray Winstone, had its 2015 event cancelled as the Media Museum announced its future was under review.

It is the biggest of the museum's film festivals to face the chop in recent years, following the ending of the Bite the Mango world cinema festival and Bradford Animation Film Festival.

The director of the City of Film initiative, David Wilson, yesterday raised the prospect of other venues holding an International Film Festival instead, if the National Media Museum was unwilling to host it.

He said: "Whose decision is this? We are certainly not beholden to the head of the Science Museum Group as to whether Bradford has an International Film Festival or not.

"Bradford will decide that, thank you very much.

"The National Media Museum have hosted it for the last few years, yes, but they are not the only player in town.

"We are not throwing in the towel on the film festival. I'm certainly not."

He said while he did not object to the museum's new focus on science and technology, the creative industry was the country's fastest growing sector, and Bradford should be capitalising on this.

He said: "I think it is a massive oversight."

Irfan Ajeeb, a former co-director of Beyond the Mango, yesterday called the decision "a major, major setback for Bradford" and said it made his blood boil.

He said: "I just can't understand why we are still recognised as UNESCO City of Film. Personally, I don't think we deserve it.

"What have we got to boast about? Obviously we have a history of film, particularly in Bradford, with many feature films shot in the region and the celebration of film at the Film Festival, but that is in the past.

"How can we claim to be a UNESCO City of Film? It is laughable, it really is."

Mr Ajeeb, of Heaton, said that when last year's festival was cancelled, he had suspected it would end up being a permanent move.

He said: "I just think the Media Museum didn't have the guts to come out with it, knowing the reaction they were going to cause."