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Cinema began in Leeds - vote for the best West Yorkshire film

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Martin Kelner Martin Kelner | 16:05 PM, Monday, 28 March 2011

A publicity still from John Schlesinger's Billy Liar, starring Tom Courtenay, filmed in West Yorkshire and released in 1963.

West Yorkshire is arguably the home of cinema. Actually, not even arguably. Whatever claims the French or the Americans might make, Louis Le Prince, who made the first motion pictures the world had ever seen, did his groundbreaking work in Leeds in 1888, producing two short films, Roundhay Garden Scene and Traffic Crossing Leeds Bridge.

The latter, three lovingly preserved seconds of which can still be seen here does exactly what the title suggests. It shows (horse drawn) vehicles going over the bridge, without the benefit of Dolby sound (or indeed any sound) or any special visual effects. 3D specs not needed.

Now, to celebrate Leeds's unique contribution to the most popular and successful art form ever, BBC Radio Leeds is hosting a celebration of film at Leeds's magnificent Hyde Park Picture House, which is a slice of movie history itself, dating back to 1914, and one of Britain's few surviving suburban cinemas.

On Tuesday April 19th, the film voted by listeners to BBC Radio Leeds's breakfast show as the most popular of all the films shot in West Yorkshire will be shown. Among special guests joining us on the night are stars from the BBC Four remake of the film Room At The Top, of which we will be showing a special clip. Katherine Hannah and I will provide popcorn on the night, and present the winning film, as decided by your votes.

The list of films in contention range from the 1959 version of Room At The Top to the 2009 film The Damned United, taking in Billy Liar (1963), The Railway Children (1970), A Private Function (1984) and LA Without A Map (1999). Far be it from me to influence the voting, but Billy Liar is not only my favourite film shot round here, but in my personal top ten of all time. Director John Schlesinger, who went on to big Hollywood productions like Midnight Cowboy and Marathon Man, caught the spirit of the times beautifully, Tom Courtenay was never better, and the film brought us incidental pleasures like Wilfred Pickles and Rodney Bewes in supporting roles.

But I am sure you have your personal favourite. Be part of it: listen in to our breakfast show (92.4/95.3 FM, weekdays, 6.30-9am, or on the iPlayer) or go to the BBC Radio leeds web site from today to find out how you can vote and join us in the cinema on the night.

Martin Kelner presents the Radio Leeds breakfast show with Katherine Hannah

  • The picture is a publicity still from John Shlesinger's Billy Liar, with Tom Courtenay.

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