Case Study: Cinema Day 2019: Digital Film Archive, Northern Ireland Screen and Wood Green Care Home, Jordanstown

In summer 2019, residents of Wood Green Care Home engaged with Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, to select footage that reflected their experience of being young, and showcased this during NI Cinema Day 19.

Film Hubs

Impact Areas

Focus Areas


In summer 2019, residents of Wood Green Care Home engaged with Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, to select footage that reflected their experience of being young, and showcased this during NI Cinema Day 19.

Project aims

  • To use archive film to engage with older audiences living with dementia in a care home setting

  • To allow residents and their families to enjoy time together to watch films from their local area


  • Many attendees were emotionally engaged with the material as it told stories about their particular life experiences. Triggered by the film clips, vulnerable people found their voices. Some families heard about aspects of a parent’s life that they had never known about before. Others found that the event, and the process that led up to it, stirred memories that had almost been lost, whether this was a childhood song, a journey to school, or the taste of smuggled butter.


Over 50 different archive clips were shown during the day with more used during the process. These range from home movie footage and to films that were shown in cinemas to material sourced from government or broadcast media. Highlights included the A Letter from Ulster (1944), DeLorean (1980), Charm of Ulster (1959) Ardboe Wishing Tree (1965), Forging New Links (1963), Northern Ireland Industries: Shipbuilding 1960-61 (1960-61) and Song of Ulster (1986)

Key partnerships

Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive, Film Hub NI and Wood Green Care Home.

Budget in brief

The budget for the Cinema Day event was £200, to cover postcards, screen hire and refreshments.

What worked

  • Small group-work, gave residents time and space to access their memory banks, allowing individuals to feel listened to and valued. Co-curation allowed screenings to connect with the audience members in a very direct way.

What has been difficult

  • The project allowed us to form strong bonds with the participants and it has been hard to put theses on hold at the end of the process.

What you would do differently if you did it again

  • It might be helpful to have a slightly bigger team on the day as on a practical level there were so many audience members who required an extra level of support. It might be good to have a partner event in a larger venue to increase the audience capacity, but there were advantages to working within the care home setting for this kind of audience, and the venue allowed participants to feel at home and supported.

Awareness / Attitudes

This raised awareness within the care home and underlined the possibilities for continued openness to vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups. As part of Cinema Day, the project gained profile while remaining intimate and safe for vulnerable participants. It is sometimes challenging to get that balance right, and Film Hub NI were supportive and sensitive.


The project reached out to vulnerable elderly people, most of whom are living with dementia.

Knowledge & Experience

 As a pilot project for Digital Film Archive, the project opened a new direction of travel. Wood Green Care Home is exploring ways of continuing to work in partnership with the Digital Film Archive, using approaches developed through this work. Other projects are in development, based on the experience gained through the In My Youth project.

Social Cohesion

Attendees from outside the Wood Green community found a sense of acceptance and belonging, and vulnerable adults found a voice. Inclusion in the wider Cinema Day project was valuable, bringing a sense of occasion to the experience.


For some of the participants, the factual memory of the event will fade very quickly, but it has generated a feeling of well-being that bolsters their sense of self and this emotional memory will sustain the participants long after the factual memory has slipped away.

What audiences said

  • "Precious memories, how they linger in my soul." - Betty, project participant and audience member

  • "I’ll not be able to sleep tonight -all the memories." - M. (project participant)

  • "Emotional." - Audience member

  • "Perfect as I was watching with my mother in Wood Green Care home, which is her home." - Audience member

What professionals, press and partners said

  • “One of the highlights of the year. Another point since our movie day and a resident of whom took part in the project, his wife passed away very recently. His daughter told me the cinema day was the last day their family were all together and such wonderful memory we had given them on the day. Memories they had never heard before relating to trolley busses and butter made their family laugh.

    Another resident whom has since passed away and had worked in the shipyard and lived in East Belfast also attended cinema day with his daughter, this was another great memory for them to share.
    This project and film day brought the happier side out of our work. Seeing residents enjoying themselves and feeling valued in what they have to say other than being seen as a person with dementia. -Alison Reynolds, Activities Coordinator, Wood Green Care Home.

  • “It was a good reminder of the power of film” -Hugh Odling-Smee, Project Manager, Film Hub NI