Movies to watch when you’re studying in Manchester, UK

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When you’re coming to Manchester to study as an SAF Scholar, you can get familiar with the local culture by watching some movies set in and around the city. Whether it’s learning about the area, understanding the accent, or finding out about people who call the city home, Manchester has a unique character. So, settle in for a movie night and enjoy these Manchester-based films.

24-Hour Party People

If you love music, this Michael Winterbottom biographical film released in 2002 is a must-watch. It’s about the true stories, rumors, and urban legends that surround Manchester’s chaotic and creative Factory Records.

The title comes from a song by the well-known Manchester band, Happy Mondays and follows Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan), the Granada TV presenter turned Factory Records mogul. It’s filled with cameos and real concert footage as he signs bands like Joy Division and Happy Mondays and recreated the heady days of the Hacienda nightclub. It captures Manchester’s legendary music scene and will inspire you to head straight out to a record store afterwards.

A Taste of Honey

In 1961, this classic broke new ground, showing a gritty realism unseen on UK screens before. Written by the legendary playwright Shelagh Delaney when she was just 19 years old, the movie explores social issues and taboos that affected ordinary people at the time – crippling poverty, racism, teenage pregnancy, and homosexuality.

Shot in Salford and Manchester, the movie has several locations still visible today, such as the statue of William Gladstone in Albert Square. A Taste of Honey is a hard-hitting Northern drama about working-class life, which also has a big heart thanks to the film debut of Rita Tushingham. It captures the city’s past but burns bright with a wide-eyed passion and tackles subjects that still resonate today.

East is East

This culture-clash comedy was an instant hit in 1999, and it still stands up today. Set in Salford in 1971, Om Puri stars as chip shop owner George Khan who struggles to have his children follow his strict Muslim ways in a culture filled with alternatives. He’s a proud Pakistani man married to an English woman who wants his seven children to be happy, but also wants them to keep alive the traditions he holds dear.

The movie captures multicultural family life when families like the Khans faced racism daily. It’s full of heart, even if the father is distinctly unlikeable in parts, and it shows how much views of immigration have changed – and how much remains the same.

Looking for Eric

Manchester is a football city, so it seems only fitting to include a football movie. Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric stars the legendary Manchester United footballer Eric Cantona, appearing as himself in a hallucination.

In the movie, a depressed postal worker (Steve Evets) sees his football hero appear before him after smoking his son’s marijuana, and Cantona offers him advice. Is life coaching from a sporting hero a good idea? Watch and decide! This 2009 movie was made when Manchester United was the team that won all the trophies, and Cantona had an aura unlike any other footballer of his era. It’s an enjoyable watch whether you’re a football fan or not.