A film from Afghanistan documenting life in the remarkable ancient city of Bamiyan has won the Small World Film Festival’s top award for 2017.
Judges on the People’s Panel - which met last night (Thursday) in City Hall, Bradford  -  were impressed with the sweeping cinematography which revealed the story of the UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art,  Bamiyan.  The city and nearby region is home to sandstone cliffs dotted with ancient caves and the archaeological remains of carved Buddha statues which were destroyed inconflict. The city was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003 and the organisation is supporting restoration projects in the area.

Director of Bradford UNESCO City of Film, David Wilson will present the filmmaker with a new,specially commissioned award depicting the iconic Bradford City Hall clock tower, at the UNESCO Creative Cities annual meeting next month in  Enghien Les Bains, France.

More than 50 entries were received from cities around the world but it was the mesmerising beautyand incredible story of Bamiyan, directed by Mohammad Ali Sheida that won the panel over.

Bradford UNESCO City of Film Director,  David Wilson said “The People’s Panel is becoming a real highlight for us and this year’s was particularly magical watching the audience genuinely surprised and delighted by films about cities that were in some cases new to them.

“I am very pleased this year to be able to honour the winner with our new and specially designed award recognising film excellence, from Bradford UNESCO City of Film. “

The film from Bamiyan also won the category for best citywide story. The runner up was from Paducah, (USA) UNESCO  City of Crafts and Folk Art with the film Paducah:Where the spirit flows.

The heart-warming film, Due Piedi Sinistri from Rome,(Italy)  UNESCO City of Film won thecategory of best individual story in a city. The film with a brilliant twist by director Isabella Salvetti, tells the moving story of a young girl in a wheelchair whose loyalty to a different football team - rather than her disability -  is that which divides her from a boy. Runner up was an elegant animation from Nagoya (Japan) UNESCO City of Design called Through the Windows directed by Miyo Sato.

The films were chosen from a selection of shorts which have been playing throughout June on Bradford Big Screen as part of the Small World Film Festival. The Festival has been celebrating theUNESCO creative cities network by screening films about life in the different countries. Bradford is a key member of the network as the first City of Film.

Panel member, Andy Waterman said: “It’s great to see such a wide and diverse range of films."

Another member, Megan Clayton said: "It was brilliant to see such a variety of films from all over the world with such a range of artistic ideas"

 As a legacy from the event, several of the films will screen at the Santos Coffee Festival in Brazil later this summer. Santos joined the network in 2015.

There are 116 cities from 54 countries in the UNESCO Creative Network. The cities use their designations from gastronomy to craft, design and film to foster social and economic good and to raise the profile of their cultures and communities.

All the films can be seen until the end of June on the Big Screen. The full programme can be seen here: http://bradford-city-of-film.com/enjoy/smallworldfilmfestival/