Community Curated Archive Film

Archive film, often hidden in the treasure troves that are archive collections, rarely make its way to cinema screens. It can be costly to get hold of, but when it’s available it can be truly delightful to experience. Archive materials generally consist of footage – anything from newsreels to home videos that offer a glimpse into the past. They can reveal hidden histories, challenge our perceptions of certain eras, or simply offer some comforting nostalgia.

At Showroom Cinema, we’ve screened a few archive collections – many from the wonderful Britain on Film collections shared by the British Film Institute and Independent Cinema Office. This autumn season, we have partnered with Bristol-based organisation Compass Presents and the Yorkshire Film Archive, to offer a big-screen glimpse into our collective history in Sheffield.

Dockyards, Demos & New Directions is an archive project that travels along England’s waterways, starting in Bristol and stopping in Gloucester, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield. The project uses the waterways as a central thread that connects the migration stories, industrial and political histories that define our cities. Film screenings will be taking place in each location, and Sheffield’s film will screen on Sunday 12 December, and has been curated for us by a group of local residents, from collections at Yorkshire Film Archive.

Our curated footage illustrates the rich history of our city from the archive’s lens. From the changing face of the River Don and decline of industry to the rise of Sheffield’s two universities. In footage made for the Sheffield and District Workers Film Society, there are special shots that show the Peace March from 1936 as anti-war protestors march through the streets of the city to Endcliffe Park, later in the film, there are images of Clarion Ramblers staking claim to Sheffield’s green space.

Accompanying the screenings will be an audio tour, including stories from local people speaking about their own personal memories of the city and its history. This audio tour will be available to listen to on your phone as part of your ticket, following a walking route along a nearby waterway. Featuring a vibrant range of archive footage, this collection of films will consider the ever-shifting identity of the city that we know and love, and invite audiences to peer in on Sheffield’s rich past.

Dockyards, Demos and New Directions will be screening at Showroom Cinema on Sunday 12 December and is supported by the BFI Screen Heritage Fund. Tickets are on sale now.

This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 2 December 2021.


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