BRISTOL FILM AND VIDEO SOCIETY has made the only dramatised documentary on John Cabot's voyage of discovery on the Matthew in 1497.

This costume drama, shot at historical locations in Bristol and its surroundings, has a cast of 120 drawn from amateur drama groups throughout the area.

The film opens with the fall of Constantinople in 1453, moves to medieval Venice, London, Bristol and aboard the 'Matthew' as Cabot battles with an unruly crew and storms at sea before landing in the New World. The story ends with the unexplained disappearance of Cabot and his small fleet of ships on his return voyage to the "New Founde Lands" in 1498.

Although only a few contemporary accounts of the voyage have survived, the screen play incorporates all the known facts together with others of a general historical context and includes passing references to printing, Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance, and the underlying religious problems of the time. Also included are the main legends/myths about lands to the West. The video should therefore prove an invaluable reference to teachers.

To compliment the film, a booklet of background notes has been produced, which provides general information about the period, the story and characters. Download it HERE - 6 pages

'Cabot' was made as a community production by BRISTOL FILM AND VIDEO SOCIETY, a long established group of amateur film makers, with the help of very many other people; amateur actors, owners of historic buildings, boatmen, model makers, costumes and props makers. All the people who took part did so as volunteers. Nobody was paid for taking part.

Cast of 121 drawn from Amateur Drama Societies and Clubs in the Bristol area.
42 of the cast had a speaking role in the film.
A total of 63 filming sessions were held.
50 different locations were used including:

'We erect this standard in honour of King Henry, and declare his dominion over this new found land..'

'In my youth I sailed with the greatest explorer of them all - John Cabot'

'.. are you prepared to back me so that Venice will remain a great trading city - or shall I be forced to take my ideas elsewhere?'

'.. and you, Robert, will teach Sebastian the rudiments of navigation and the skills of a sailor.'

'.. give this Cabot his letters patent,
and send him to Bristol.'