TODAY Bradford marks its 10th anniversary as the world’s first UNESCO City of Film by launching a year of events.

The programme includes Channel 4’s DIVERSE Festival, taking place in Bradford ahead of the channel’s new HQ opening in Leeds. Other highlights include Bradford’s first smart phone film festival and Screen Talks with leading industry figures from shows such as Peaky Blinders, Dr Who and Downton Abbey, and a Bradford-born Game of Thrones star.

David Wilson, Director of Bradford City of Film, said: “Bradford was a pioneer in the UNESCO network as the first City of Film. This anniversary is about celebrating and developing further all the work done so far and new projects, locally and internationally. The 10th anniversary programme reflects our work of the last decade; using film and film culture to drive social and economic change.”

Alex Mahon, Channel 4 Chief Executive, said: “Our annual DIVERSE Festival provides a fantastic opportunity for people to share experiences and find out more about delivering inclusion within organisations. We’re extremely excited to be holding our festival in Bradford UNESCO City of Film as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.”

Bradford has become a hotbed of film - productions shot here include TV’s Victoria, The ABC Murders, Peaky Blinders, Gentleman Jack, To Walk Invisible, Gunpowder, Ackley Bridge, The Syndicate and Girlfriends, and movies Official Secrets, Gold, Miss You Already, The Limehouse Golem, Funny Cow and God’s Own Country.

Last year 35 productions came to the district and this is expected to rise in 2019. The first port of call is Bradford Film Office which finds locations and helps with crew hire, hotels, catering and vehicle access. “Over the past two years we’ve supported some of the highest quality TV dramas in the world and we’re already seeing new enquiries from Netflix and a number of US and Indian films,” said Mr Wilson. “Each production brings economic benefits to Bradford. When Bollywood film Gold was here cast and crew booked 4,000 bed nights over a three-month period and used local crew, extras and office facilities.

“There have always been opportunities for businesses to benefit from the City of Film designation. In recent years it has become more apparent. Business landlords in Little Germany have made a sizeable income from filming in their premises.”

Production companies are so impressed with Bradford they plan to return. Kevin Proctor, producer of 2018 film Funny Cow, shot largely in Saltaire, told the T&A: “We didn’t need to build sets - it was all there. Saltaire, Bradford Playhouse and Oastler Market were so accommodating, they were incredible places to film. I’d love to film here again.”

Ever since the first series of Peaky Blinders was shot here in 2013 the Bafta-winning drama has returned to locations such as Undercliffe Cemetery, City Hall and Bradford’s Midland Hotel, returning for series five last autumn. “From a brief meeting with the location managers then a follow-up recce across the city, they just couldn’t believe how many great locations Bradford has,” said Mr Wilson. “The crew love filming here.”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said: “Film and high-end TV are big business. Yorkshire is a dynamic region for creative industries, particularly film and TV, with high-end TV successes including Peaky Blinders and Victoria and films such as Downton Abbey. Bradford Film Office plays an important part in this success.”

It was June 8, 2009 when Bradford joined the Creative Cities network, divided into Craft and Folk Arts, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts and Music. Today it has 180 member cities from 72 countries whose collective mission is placing creativity at the heart of economic and social development. There are 10 UK cities in the network, with Bradford key to developing the global film community of 13 cities, including Sydney and Rome.

Bradford City of Film is forging links with China, the world’s fastest-growing cinema industry, and supported Qingdao to become China’s first City of Film. There is a Bradford Film Office in Qingdao which has China’s largest film production studio, attracting a growing number of film and TV companies. Plans were recently announced for a Chinese re-working of Jane Eyre, which it is hoped will be partly shot in Bradford. “If Visit Britain’s prediction that by 2030 a quarter of all global tourists will come from China, I think we’re in a great place,” said Mr Wilson.

This year’s anniversary programme highlights how Bradford has led the way in film literacy since 2010 when it was embedded into primary schools as a City of Film legacy. Today Bradford’s film literacy programme is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the UK, helping thousands of children discover new ways of learning. More than 50 primary schools have been involved, with teachers reporting a positive impact on reading, writing and engagement.

Head of Education at BFI, Mark Reid, said: “Bradford primary schools are genuinely leading the world in their inclusion of film in literacy teaching.”

The BFI’s education strand, Into Film, is now working with schools here, and Bradford City of Film has been sharing its literacy vision with other Creative Cities including Galway in Ireland.

Film education is also being piloted beyond the classroom. The City of Film team worked with Bradford’s Sudanese community and film-maker Simona Manni on a project called Unity and Community, using film literacy techniques, and a film made by Sudanese women, telling their stories, was screened at festivals around the world.

Further plans for film literacy will be discussed at a two-day Education Symposium in March.

The past few years have seen a growth of community cinema in the district, and Bradford City of Film has been a major supporter, providing expertise and film equipment. Andy Waterman, who runs Clayton Community Cinema from Clayton Village Hall, which has regular audiences of around 50, said: “The cinema has become an important part of our community, with a wide range of ages and cultures.”

Other community cinemas are at Lidget Green, Bingley Keighley and Thornton. Mr Wilson said: “Community cinemas aren’t intended to take custom away from traditional cinemas but to give people greater choice and to grow film culture and audiences.”

Bradford City of Film’s 10th anniversary programme will be unveiled tonight at the National Science and Media Museum. Highlights include:

* Channel 4’s DIVERSE Festival - the first time it has been hosted in an English city outside London. Taking place at the University of Bradford on May 21, it brings together broadcasters, commissioners and creative industry stakeholders to celebrate diversity and inclusion, share best practice and find collaborative solutions to future challenges.

Bradford was one of the main backers for Channel 4 to relocate to the Leeds City Region, and a key factor of the bid was the Bradford Screen Skills Diversity Programme, building a range of skills for careers in TV and film, starting at secondary school level. The programme is being rolled out this year, providing training, apprenticeships, work experience, mentoring and bursaries.

* Screen Talks. Guest speakers sharing experiences of the industry, from acting to special effects, location managing and producing, include Bradford-born film and TV writer Michael Hirst, who has written scripts for hit TV shows including Vikings and The Tudors and films such as Elizabeth; Game of Thrones actor Enzo Cilenti; Rebecca Parnell, part of the Top Gear production team and series producer on GPs Behind Closed Doors; and Leon Seth, location manager who has worked with organisations including the BBC, ITV and Netflix and scouted locations for this year’s much-anticipated Downton Abbey movie.

* Get Smart Film Festival. Bradford’s first ever smartphone film festival is in September, showcasing short films from around the world, shot on mobile phones and tablets. Categories include fiction, documentary and 60-second film.

* Lights Camera Equality. Marking International Women’s Day, a panel of women in the industry, including Bafta-nominated TV writer Lisa Holdsworth, will discuss gender inequalities in the film business.

* International Film Education Symposium. The two-day event highlights the power of film to communicate, empower and inspire learning, in an era of fake news. The BFI’s Head of Education, Mark Reid, will join Yongsun Lee from the Korean Film Council and guests from the UNESCO Creative Cities Network to explore the power of film in education.

* Peaky Blinders location tour and a 1920s-style ‘Peaky Blinders dance’ at the Midland Hotel.

* Film Heritage Tour of Bradford, exploring key locations and a film history dating back to the 1890s when the Lumiere brothers played arguably the UK’s first commercial film at the People’s Palace Music Hall.

* Bradford Family Film Festival, which includes movies on the Big Screen in City Park, a pop-up cinema at Oastler Market and a Bollywood summer season.