Hollywood, Bollywood meet Bradford: "City of Film"

LONDON (Reuters) - Bradford, an industrial city in the north of England, has been named the world’s first “City of Film” by the United Nations, ahead of more immediately famous movie capitals such as Hollywood or Cannes.

A lone policeman stands in the street in Bradford, northern England November 21, 2005. REUTERS/Stringer

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural arm, said it was awarding Bradford the title on the basis of its historic links to the production and distribution of films, its media and film museum and its “cinematographic legacy.”

The honor may be a surprise to many as Bradford, previously known as the “wool capital of the world,” is probably best known as a city of around 500,000 people that was once a center of the industrial revolution.

“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 highly regarded National Media Museum.

“With the UNESCO City of Film designation, Bradford will now go on to achieve inspirational projects in film.”

While not as glamorous as Los Angeles or the French Riviera, Bradford does have a strong tie to cinema and film.

It has been the location for several movies including “Yanks,” starring Richard Gere, and “The Railway Children,” a 1970s classic about the tribulations of 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.

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

Simon Beaufoy, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Slumdog Millionaire” who originally hails from Bradford, said the city had played a crucial role in the story of cinema and deserved to be recognized.

“This is superb news for Bradford and is testimony to the city’s dedication to the film and media industry,” he said.

Bradford’s seven floor National Media Museum has 3D cinemas and a ‘Magic Factory’, which explains the basic principles behind photography, television and animation.

The museum attracted more than 700,000 visitors in 2007, making it one of the most popular museums in Britain outside London.