Cary Grant Comes Home for The Weekend Festival

Cary Comes Home Festival is a labour of love for festival organisers Dr Charlotte Crofts (Associate Professsor Filmmaking, UWE) and Fern Dunn (graduate of the UWE MA Curating and currently employed at Aardman Animations), born out of their shared passion for Bristol’s vibrant cinema culture and film heritage. The festival’s aims are to celebrate Cary Grant’s Bristol roots, develop new audiences for his films and recreate the golden age of cinema-going.

We feel that Cary Grant’s incredible journey – from Bristol boy, Archibald Leach, born in Horfield in 1904, to global icon, Cary Grant – is inspiring for Bristolians and beyond. At the age of eleven Archie was tragically separated from his mother when she was committed to mental hospital. Sadly, because of the taboo surrounding mental health, he was told that she had died, and was only reunited with her in his thirties, after he’d become famous. As a child, young Archie haunted Bristol docks, longing to be carried away in one of the tall ships. He eventually sailed away to New York with a troupe of acrobats in 1920, where he worked his way to Hollywood and reinvented himself as Cary Grant.
That transformation – overcoming a painful childhood and beating the odds of his birth to become “the best and most important actor in the history of cinema” according to film critic, David Thompson – is truly remarkable. But what’s equally worthy of comment is the fact that he returned home. A loyal Bristolian, Cary Grant visited the city of his birth regularly to see his mother, supporting local businesses whilst in town and he even carried on coming home after her death.
The festival happens biannually, but fringe events occur throughout the year. The next festival is due to take place Autumn 2018. Previous festivals have featured screenings, talks, hands-on workshops and tours with contributions from UWE Staff including Professor Andrew Spicer, Dr Estella Tincknell (Associate Professor Film and Culture) and Dr Katrina Glitre.
As well as programming traditional screenings and talks, the festival curates pop-up events at locations relevant to Cary Grant’s Bristol, so far including the Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol Museum, Bristol Cathedral, and The Avon Gorge Hotel, working in partnership with Watershed, Averys Wine Cellar, Bristol Film Festival, Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol Festival of Ideas and Cinema Rediscovered Festival. In addition, the Looking for Archie walking tour (part of the Being Human Festival of the Humanities), aims is to develop this place-making activity into an app with Cactus and Tangent Books for 2020. Cary Grant is also the jumping off point for a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement fund on the theme of film and mental health, in partnership with Glenside Hospital Museum and Glenside Campus (nee Bristol Lunatic Asylum, where Cary Grant’s mother was committed), which will be explored at the next festival in 2018 as part of the Bristol City of Film activity.