Cinema City: Bristol on film

8th August 2019

Categories: Press Releases

Bristol continues to ramp up its status as a UNESCO City of Film, with a new season of cinematic events and made-here movie moments from Jane Austen’s Sanditon to Aardman’s Early Man.

A mix of film festivals, movie credits and high-profile, home-grown production companies earned Bristol a place among the world’s best big-screen cities when it was a named a UNESCO City of Film in 2017. And, true to form, the coming winter season features an eclectic programme of Bristol-made dramas, festivals, outdoor screenings and re-run classics (often in unusual places).

What’s the drama?

A combination of Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios, Bristol Film Office and a variety of filmic landscapes (from Georgian squares to industrial waterfront) has made the city a favourite with film makers and its many location credits are about to be ramped up by the forthcoming release of four high-profile television dramas.

A complete Regency street was created at Bottle Yard Studios for the making of ITV’s Sanditon (airing in autumn, date to be announced) a dramatisation of Jane Austin’s unfinished novel. The 11-chapter manuscript has been brought to the screen in an eight-part, bonnets-and-breeches drama adapted for Red Planet Pictures by Andrew Davies and starring Rose Williams (pictured above, as Charlotte Heywood) with Theo James, Anne Reid and Kris Marshall. Familiar Bristol landmarks used on location include The New Rooms and the Georgian House (both open to the public). North Somerset settings - Clevedon, Brean Beach, Sand Point and Uphill near Weston-super-Mare - also helped bring Sanditon (the seaside resort in the title) to life. See the trailer here.

Look out for more Bristol landmarks in the forthcoming series, The Trial of Christine Keeler, a BBC six-parter staring Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ben Miles and Emilia Fox. In a fresh look at the Profumo scandal, Bristol locations were used to recreate 1960s London. Filming took place in numerous locations around the city: Goldney Hall in Clifton played a Paris hotel room, offices above St Nicholas Market became M15, the Wills Building was cast as the House of Commons and the Corn Street area stood in for the Old Bailey. Bristol Central Library, Brandon Hill, Berkeley Square and the Strawberry Thief bar also landed parts in the drama which airs on BBC1 in the winter.

Next up is a new TV version of HG Wells’ vintage sci-fi classic, War of the Worlds. Featuring an alien invasion of Earth, the eight-part series, starring Gabriel Byrne and Elizabeth McGovern, is to debut later this year on CANAL+ in France and on FOX across Europe and Africa. Bristol locations include the Royal Marriot Hotel, Stapleton Road (under the M32 flyover) and Frog Lane, at the back of City Hall, as a London Road and Tube Station.

Finally, filming is underway for a BBC production of Pale Horse, a new adaption of a murder-mystery by Agatha Christie (who incidentally was married in Bristol). Filmed at Bottle Yard Studios and at locations in and around the city, Pale Horse features a stellar cast (including Rufus Sewell as hero Mark Easterbrook) and is likely to air in 2020.

Bottle Yard Studios, incidentally, is open to the public for one day only during Bristol’s annual Open Doors Weekend (13-15 September). The 7-acre film production facility is home to Poldark, the Crystal Maze and Sherlock among other familiar productions. The opportunity to take a peek behind the scenes at this complex of former wine warehouses, is offered as a must-book guided tour on Saturday 13.

Festivals and screenings

ENCOUNTERS Short Film Festival (24-29 September)
Billed as ‘the UK’s leading short film, animation and virtual reality festival’, this international event celebrates the art of the mini movie with entries from all over the world and hosted by a city that now has UNESCO City of Film status. Attracting over 3000 submissions, Encounters combines its annual international film competition with daily screenings, debut feature films and a platform for new and established talent.

Summer Movies at Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin (20-22 August)
Wowcher presents Mean Girls, The Greatest Showman, Legally Blonde, Mamma Mia and Dirty Dancing as part of an outdoor movie series on the spectacular terrace at Avon Gorge by Hotel du Vin. Platinum movie packages include tickets, a glass of Prosecco and bean bag hire. The view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge is an added bonus.

Luna Cinema at Ashton Court Mansion (20 – 22 September)
The South Lawn at Ashton Court Mansion – part of the 850-acre Ashton Court Estate on the edge of Bristol – is the setting for an autumn series of open-air, evening film screenings: Pretty Woman, Mary Poppins Returns and Bohemian Rhapsody features alongside a Luna Bar and gourmet food.

Yoko Ono show at the Georgian House (28 September)
Inventions/2, a series of avant-garde films by Yoko Ono, are to be screened in rooms at the Bristol’s Georgian House Museum. Early films (including Eyeblink made in 1966, and Fly - directed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1970) play alongside Arising – a more recent work addressing the abuse of women, first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2013.

Love film? Love Bristol Film Festival (dates in September-December).
The idea behind this year-long celebration of the cinema is to show classic films and cult movies in unusual locations – ‘an alternative experience for film lovers’ is how its described and the forthcoming winter season doesn’t disappoint. Book tickets for a 50th anniversary showing of Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid at the cellars at Avery’s Wine Merchants (20 September), the Bride of Frankenstein screened in spooky Redcliffe Caves (26 October) or The Neverending Story at the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery (29 December). Where else would you catch a re-run of Addams Family Values shown in a Victorian cemetery?

Planetarium shows at We the Curious (until November)
Bristol’s hands-on science and discovery centre launches a new season of 3D shows at the Planetarium (the UK’s first 3D ultra-high definition planetarium when it opened in 2015). The season’s shows include In the Steps of Apollo 3D, Holst’s Planets 3D and Life in the Universe 3D.

General shots

David Attenborough’s Virtual Reality Great Barrier Reef at Limina Immersive (various dates)
The Uk’s first dedicated Virtual Reality entertainment theatre, Limina Immersive is currently showing David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef Dive and The Guardian's VR film, Songbird, a natural history double bill brought to audiences in glorious hyper-real colour in partnership with Encounters Festival (see above). Shows run at the weekends into September. Audiences are limited to a maximum of 12  and the programme is generally not suitable for the under 13s.

Exhibitions and events

Wallace and Gromit Trail at Bristol Zoo Gardens (until October 13).
Loveable pals, Wallace and Gromit – currently enjoying their 30th birthday - head to Bristol Zoo Gardens for the summer. Join the animated duo (created by Bristol-based Aardman Animations) on a fun-filled activity trail, learn what it takes to be a ‘Trainee Zookeeper’ and join a Claymation Workshop among other activities.

Aardman Animating: Early Man at M Shed (until November).
The Harbourside’s museum of Bristol life, presents Early Man – an insight into the making of Aardman Animation’s mammoth stop-motion movie. From drawings, finely crafted sets, exquisite character models and the latest CGI technology this is a unique peek at the painstaking creative processes behind the 2018 animated blockbuster that starred the voices of Eddie Redmayne and Tom Hiddleston.

COMING UP next year…

Silent screen comedy at Slapstick (January 24-26, 2020)
The UK’s biggest festival of silent and vintage screen comedy – Slapstick – will be back in Bristol in January 2020 with a programme featuring laugh-out-loud, silent era favourites from Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel & Hardy and Lloyd; a salute to pioneering funny women; a look at French comedy classics; film and TV nostalgia events hosted by Rob Brydon, Harry Hill, Lucy Porter and The Goodies, among many others and a gala screening with live orchestra at Bristol Cathedral.

Cary Comes Home (November 20-22, 2020)
The biennial celebration of Bristol-born Hollywood star and global style icon Cary Grant, will be back next year, offering big screen showings of some of his best-loved films, walks and talks linked to his life and career and new opportunities to relive the Golden Age of Cinema. The festival team is also working on plans for companion events in New York, marking the 100th anniversary of when Archie Leach first landed in America and started on the path which led to international fame and fortune as Cary Grant.

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