Bristol City of Film

When it comes to appreciating film and the moving image, Bristol boasts an impressive selection of venues, festivals and special events. Internationally renowned film culture and digital media centre Watershed links many of these together, whilst smaller independent cinemas like The Cube and Everyman Cinema are also popular with audiences.

Our rich screen heritage dates back to the very beginning of screen experimentation; one of the earliest moving image inventors William Friese-Green (1855-1921) was born and lived in Bristol – as was Archibald Leach, aka global film icon Cary Grant (1904-1986), whose life is celebrated biennially by the city’s Cary Comes Home Festival.

In total Bristol hosts 11 international film festivals which provide a diverse and dynamic range of programmes, covering everything from film print rarities at Cinema Rediscovered, shorts at Encounters, natural history at Wildscreen, silent comedy at Slapstick and classic films in unusual locations at Bristol Film Festival.

Through its Film Culture strand, Bristol City of Film is:

  • increasing diversity of local access and engagement with film
  • providing more opportunities for all audiences to watch films in a broad range of different settings
  • supporting screen heritage and archive initiatives
  • increasing screen tourism to attract more visitors to the city.

Take a look at some of the projects we’re currently working with.

"I think it’s the most fascinating city in the country. There’s always something to do and experience; from the incredible outdoor spaces to the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft; from the brilliant Bristol Old Vic to the amazing carnival. I’m so proud it’s got this City of Film status, it’s a place where stories should be told.”

Jack Thorne, BAFTA-winning screenwriter (Kiri, National Treasure, This is England '86, '88, '90)

Bristol’s Summer Film Takeover

Bristol's Summer Takeover - June to September 2023 slide image logo Venture out and explore the city through a different lens with Bristol's Summer Film Takeover, presented by Bristol UNESCO City of Film and partners! Featuring nine free film events taking place across the city centre between June and September 2023 that celebrate unique aspects of Bristol’s culture and identity through different screen experiences.

Film 2021: Celebrating William Friese-Greene

Bristol Film 2021 illustration by Willem Hampson 2021 marks the centenary of the death of Bristolian inventor William Friese-Greene (1855-1921), pioneer of early motion pictures. To mark the date and celebrate Bristol’s many modern-day film credentials, we present Film 2021, a year long programme of activities supported by a city-wide partnership of Bristol’s film studios, cinemas, filmmakers and festivals.

Celebrating Bristol Talent

Director Mark Jenkin at the BAIT premiere and QA at the Berlinale Forum © Dario Lehner Marian Stefanowski Shorts and features from new and emerging Bristol talent are continually generating a buzz with critics and audiences, in the UK and further afield. We take look at a few of the latest successes to come out of Bristol.

Cinema Rediscovered

Cinema Rediscovered Presented by Watershed, Cinema Rediscovered is the innovative festival that brings the best digital restorations, contemporary classics and film print rarities back to the big screen, whilst also celebrating Bristol’s UNESCO status by focusing on local connections.

Widening the Lens

Jon Craig Bristol Run by Encounters Film Festival in partnership with ScreenSkills, Widening the Lens provides short filmmakers from underrepresented groups with talent, skills and professional development.

Bristol to Dakar: Afrika Eye Exchange

Pierre Amiral In 2018, Bristol’s Afrika Eye Festival and Dakar’s Image et Vie Festival delivered their first collaborative cultural exchange since the two cities became members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.