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Sunday 1st February 2015

BFI Unlocking Film Heritage Project (UFH)



SWFTA are putting on their white gloves, dusting off their film reels and preparing to unlock film heritage.

Under the British Film Institute’s National Lottery-funded ‘Unlocking Film Heritage Digitisation Fund’ and following on from the excellent development work our Discovery Fund team undertook last year (January-May 2014), SWFTA’s latest project is aimed at the transfer of archive footage selected by the Discovery Fund team from film to digital. The Unlocking Film Heritage Project seeks to open up regional archives to the general public by making film archive available to view.

Jilly Payne, SWFTA's BFI-UFH Project Director said: “This is an excellent opportunity for SWFTA to showcase its film archive, some of which has not been seen for decades. We hope that the public will engage with their past and have a nostalgia for what they see but from experience we also know that children are fascinated by old archive videos and we believe some of these clips will generate interest on social media.”

Following a successful bid to resource the Discovery Fund phase of the UFH Project from January to May 2014, SWFTA was able to enter the latest phase of the UFH programme in January 2015 and will now be offering titles on the main theme of ‘Britain on Film’. From pomp and pageantry to pasties and pilchards, through sailing and surfing to carnivals and carpets, from the exciting to the mundane, the historical to the hysterical, these clips give the viewer a chance to look back at historic moments such as in 1941 a visit to Plymouth by King George VI just hours before one of the heaviest nights of bombing during the Blitz but also to be entertained by old football highlights, street carnivals, naughty goats, camel-racing or a pram derby. They give the viewer a sense of the region as a whole, a changing community with a common past and introduce new viewers to the South West’s last 100 years.

Tim Dollimore, Managing Director of The Media Workshop who is involved with the project: “There’s something very magical about working with film archives and peeking into the past.”

The project will last a year with a possibility of a second year of funding in 2016. SWFTA will use its website, SWFTA Tube, and social media currently Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote and showcase the archive and engage with its local, regional, national and international audiences from the outset of digitisation.

Stacey Anderson, SWFTA Executive Director said: Film shows, archive tours, community pop-up events and local film festivals – all of which SWFTA proactively participates in – will benefit greatly from the array of footage that will be digitised as part of this project. Moreover, because the material put forward has been selected to represent the South West region as a whole. In May 2014, SWFTA, along with its key partners Plymouth City Council (PCC) and the South West Image Bank (SWiB), discovered that the Heritage Lottery Fund had agreed to allocate £12.8M for the development and building of the Plymouth History Centre. The History Centre will open in 2020 and will present the stories of Plymouth and the South West region in a creative and innovative manner using the collections of PCC, SWiB and SWFTA. Central to SWFTA’s offer will be increasing the number of titles that are digitised in order for footage to be screened as part of exhibitions within this new, state-of-the-art, facility that will be ready to go when the doors to the History Centre open to the public. This will provide a long-term legacy for UFH."

Sue Todd, BFI Archive Relationships Manager is excited about the project “It’s looking pretty great. We are now over the 750 mark in terms of live UFH films.”