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Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Film

Northern Ireland Screen has been curating and making accessible film materials that tell the region's unique stories, spanning from 1897 to the present day

The Ould Lammas Fair - Ballycastle

The BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project is one of the biggest film archive schemes ever undertaken, aiming to digitise and make available 10,000 titles from across the UK.

National Lottery funding has helped digitise and archive 100 hours of film in Northern Ireland from broadcasters, government departments, independent filmmakers and amateur cine enthusiasts. This process ensures the public, filmmakers, teachers and researchers can enjoy the full range of Northern Ireland’s rich film heritage, wherever they are. It's not just newsreels covering The Troubles - the archive has everything from Royal visits and motorsport to family home movies and documentaries on a range of topics.

This newly digitised material is being used extensively for outreach and community activity and has been made available to view at 23 locations across Northern Ireland, including libraries and museums. Much of it is viewable online and access is free, although some cannot be streamed due to copyright restrictions.

Northern Ireland Screen runs its own outreach programme providing talks, reminiscence sessions and screenings based on the collection. In 2016/17 alone, 52 events were delivered across Northern Ireland, with more than 1,100 people benefiting from the outreach programme, including community groups, charities, seniors’ organisations, historical societies, schools, care homes and hospices. A particular effort was made to bring moving image heritage to hard-to-reach groups in areas of social exclusion and rural isolation.

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