THE FIRST-ever Keighley Arts and Film Festival will hit the town on weekend of October 11-13.

KAFF aims to bring together people who live and work in Keighley, including artists and filmmakers, to promote its creative people and projects.

The weekend will see a host of free activities and events open to the public including music, cinema, workshops, walks, theatre and poetry.

One highlight will be a screening of Yanks, the movie about American servicemen training in England during the Second World War, which was filled in Keighley in 1979.

Keighley Film Club will host the film at the Picture House, North Street, on Sunday October 13 at 6pm giving the audience a chance to spot the hundreds of local people who played extras on screen.

Keighley Film Club spokesman Alan Watkinson said: “Yanks is of particular significance to the many Keighley people who in 1979 were recruited to be in it. Can you spot yourself and relive those moments?

“When acting a part in the film, we wonder how many disguised their period haircuts if they had to go to the Job Centre? The importance of the film to Keighley was first the temporary boost in employment and second the choice of this location for such a major film.”

The Picture House will offer half-price adult admission to anyone going along dressed in 1940s period costume for the screening.

Yanks is set in a northern town chosen as a US army base when ‘GIs’ crossed the Atlantic to train for their part in the D-Day invasion of France in 1944.

Alan said: “The town was overwhelmed by many young healthy male soldiers, while a year earlier the local males had all been drafted to fight the war in Europe.

“This had left the local females devoid of male company until these new arrivals started to form liaison is. There were different cultural attitudes and dialects to overcome in spite of a common language, and aspects of racism.

“The locals had suspicions of the visitors being ‘overpaid, over-sexed and over here’ even though they were here to help the Brits.

“The film is a love story set among the uncertainty of war - how long would these soldiers stay? Would the local men return? Would there be a long term effect on changes in attitudes?”

Alan said John Schlesinger’s fine direction and Colin Welland’s sensitive and courageous screenplay covered the wide-ranging and uncomfortable issues.

Keighley Film Club spokesman Alan Watkinson said KAFF was aiming to demonstrate the artistic and related contributions Keighley had made to the UK and beyond.

He said: “Keighley Film Club has identified more than a dozen films that show the town and its surrounds have become ‘a go to’ place for famous films and TV productions.

“There will be a static display in the shopping centre reflecting this. In addition Two Leaves Of A Shatoot, KFC’s first film, made in Keighley, will be shown at the Creative Space arts centre on Hanover Street on Friday, October 11.

Artists and makers who work and exhibit at Creative Space, in the former Sunwin House and Department store, are heavily involved in CALF.

Another highlight of Keighley Arts and Film Festival promises to be Shine A Light which involved young men from Parkside School in Cullingworth writing poetry.

The students have worked with award-winning writer Jamie Thrasivoulou and ICLS (Intercultural Communication and Leadership School) to examine their views on pride, place, self esteem, loyalty and identity.

The group spent four weeks looking at different poets, writing about their own experiences, and reading their work to each other in preparation for performing.

As a celebration of their ideas the students will work with outdoor arts organisation Walk The Plank to create spectacular fire drawings, which will be the finale at the launch of the Keighley Arts and Film Festival, at Cliffe Castle on Friday October 11 at 6pm.

ICLS project manager Sophie Powell said: “The group from Parkside have been great, full of ideas and enthusiastic. They’ve been keen to share their writing with staff and are really proud of their achievements.

“We can’t wait to be in the park on Friday to hear them performing their poems live and see their designs aflame!

Arts Council England supported the project.

Shine A Light will start at 6pm with Drum Machine and Jamba Samba providing music, and Cecil Green Arts providing a lantern parade. People can take along their own lanterns to join in.

Keighley Arts and Film Festival is running several events that are free but require tickets.

These include the play Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover, Keighley theatre group Big Soup’s controversial look at life as a disabled people person, performed on Thursday October 10 at 7pm.

The Time Train will run on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on Saturday October 12.

Historian, writer and storyteller Irene Lofthouse will don period costume to relate the story of mill owner Rachel Leach, who stood up to male rivals in the cutthroat textiles world of the late 1700s.

Irene, in the guise of millworker Nancy Newbody, will lead a walk entitled Mills, Myths and Musings on Saturday October 12 at 2pm.

RATMA, the River Aire 10 Minute Amateur international film festival, which every year attracts hundreds of entries from across the world, is being incorporated in the Keighley Arts and Film Festival.

Free screenings at Keighley town centre locations on October 12 will be followed in the evening by a gala screening of winning entries, open to the public, at the Picture House cinema.

KAFF will finish with a Cool Down After Party on Sunday October 13 from noon to 3pm, with a live band.

During the weekend Musicians Centre on Russell Street will host a series of workshops: songwriting, building a guitar effects pedal, jazz drumming, basic guitar repairs, working as a sound tech, DJ scratching, group ukulele and graffiti.

There will be buskers on the streets of Keighley on Saturday October 12, and from noon a Keighley’s Got Talent show to raise money for learning disabilities charity Hft.

Gigs at the Exchange include Silver Finger Singh performing hip-hop, reggae and Bhangra (October 12), and the comeback of Keighley ska-reggae-metal trio Random Hand (October 13)

Visit or Facebook @keighleyfestival for details of times, tickets, and information about all the festival events.