Bradford - Culture

Culture

The National Media Museum hosts the Bradford International Film Festival annually in March. In June 2009 Bradford was designated the world's first UNESCO City of Film for its links to the production and distribution of films, its media and film museum and its "cinematographic legacy".

"Becoming the world's first City of Film is the ultimate celebration of Bradford's established and dynamic history in film and media," said Colin Philpott, director of Bradford's National Media Museum. "With the UNESCO City of Film designation, Bradford will now go on to achieve inspirational projects in film." Simon Beaufoy from Bradford, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, said the city had played a crucial role in the story of cinema and deserved to be recognised.

The Bradford Animation Festival - the UK's longest-running animation festival, held each November sees an array of screentalks, workshops and special events. The festival culminates in the annual BAF Awards which celebrate new animation from around the world.

The city has a heritage in film production and many films and TV productions have been filmed in the city including Room at the Top, Billy Liar and The Red Riding Trilogy. Bradford was the location for the films Yanks, starring Richard Gere, and The Railway Children starring Jenny Agutter, a 1970s classic about Victorian children whose father goes missing. Monty Python's ground-breaking The Meaning of Life and the controversial hit Rita, Sue and Bob Too, about a married man who cannot choose between two teenage lovers, were also filmed in the city.

In recent years Bradford has developed a relationship with Bollywood, hosting the International Indian Film Festival awards in 2007.

There are four theatres in Bradford: the Alhambra which has smaller studio theatre in the same complex. These are operated by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. The Theatre in the Mill is a small studio theatre at the University of Bradford which presents student and community shows and small-scale touring professional work. The Priestley Theatre is a privately run venue with a medium-sized proscenium theatre and a small studio.

Among the professional theatre companies based in Bradford are Kala Sangam, the satirical madcap comedy troop, Komedy Kollective, Lost Dog (based at Theatre In The Mill) and Mind the Gap, one of the longest established, who have always worked with a mixture of disabled and able-bodied performers. Groups and organisations teaching theatre include The Asian Theatre School, Bradford Stage and Theatre School and Stage 84. There are also a number of amateur theatre groups.

St George's Hall is a concert hall dating from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in Europe. Bradford Festival Choral Society was founded to perform at the inaugural Bradford Musical Festival that took place in August of that year, and the choir is still a part of the musical life of the city. The Hallé Orchestra have been regular visitors over the years, as have a wide range of popular musicians, bands, entertainers, comedians and theatrical productions.

Cinemas have been replaced by vast entertainment complexes with multi-screen cinemas. The Leisure Exchange in the city centre has a 16 screen Cineworld and at Thornbury, on the outskirts is the Odeon Leeds-Bradford with 13 screens which replaced the old Odeon next to the Alhambra which is the continuing focus of protests by Bradfordians who do not wish to see the old building demolished. The University of Bradford also has a cinema run by the Students' Union, operating from the University's Great Hall.

Nightlife in Bradford has traditionally centred around Manor Row and Manningham Lane. More recently, several clubs and pubs have opened in the West End of Bradford, around the Alhambra Theatre, turning what was previously a fairly quiet area into one that is often crowded and vibrant at night.

Bradford was one of the first areas of the UK to get a local commercial radio station Pennine Radio in September 1975. Today this is The Pulse of West Yorkshire and Pulse Classic Gold. As of 2006 Bradford Community Broadcasting based in the city centre has broadcast on full-time Community Radio license around Bradford and the Aire Valley, whilst the University radio station Ramair broadcasts to the student population. Bradford's only television station AAP TV caters for Bradford's large Asian community. The Telegraph and Argus is Bradford's daily newspaper, published six days each week from Monday to Saturday.

The Bradford Mela, the biggest of its kind outside Asia, takes place in June. The word mela is Sanskrit for 'a gathering' or 'to meet'. In the UK, melas provide an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate and share their cultures. Mela festivals include a combination of markets, funfairs, food and drink, arts and workshops, children's activities, strolling entertainment and a variety of music and dance performances on a number of stages. Bradford held the first mela in Europe in September 1988 and it has been held in Peel Park since then. Bradford City Park has the largest city centre water feature in the UK.

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