Case Study: The Curzon Project (part of NI Cinema Day)


As part of Film Hub NI Cinema Day in 2018, Belfast Film Festival presented the brilliant new short documentary that told the story of The Curzon cinema which operated from 1936 to 1999 on Belfast’s Ormeau Road. 

The screening took place in the communal courtyard of the Clanmil Housing Association, which replaced the old cinema in 2001. A sell out audience had the screening introduced by a film historian and were able to discuss the film at its end. We felt that the choice of film fulfilled the aims of Cinema Day, sharing a glimpse into the lives of those for whom the Curzon was a place to socialise, date, shelter and be inspired by classic movies.  The film featured archive material and interviews with John T Davis, David Holmes and Game Of Thrones' Kristian Nairns.

Project aims

  • To support local filmmakers.

  • To allow audiences to engage with archive material relevant to the area in which the screening was held.

  • To produce a unique site specific event for Cinema Day.


  • A sell out audience.

  • This event lead to a legacy of film activity in Clanmil Housing sites across Northern Ireland, in association with Film Hub NI.

  • Bringing archive film to a public audience in it's 'home' place.

  • Increase the knowledge of the cultural impact of cinema in Northern Ireland.


The Curzon Project, NI, 17 mins.
Outtakes reel, 20 mins.

Key partnerships

We worked with Clanmill Housing Assocation, Film Hub NI and Out of Orbit Films to deliver the screening.

Budget in brief

Budget in brief: 
Overall budget: 750
Cost per head: £4.20
Income: £250 from Film Hub NI/£300 from Box Office Income

What worked

  • We achieved our target audience figures.

  • There was a lot of interest in The Curzon Project screening on the former cinema site, we were inundated with calls beforehand enquiring about ticket availability for the sold out screening.

  • A number of the residents from the housing complex, which replaced the cinema, attended the screening.

  • As the courtyard site is part of a private complex, this was a first time experience for many of the audience.

  • We worked in association with Clanmil Housing Association and the filmmakers to successfully deliver the event.

What has been difficult

  • The only challenge in delivering the project, was transporting a large number of chairs by hand to and from the site (via a small lift), this was overcome by teamwork and good humour.

Awareness / Attitudes

The response to the screening was phenomenal. On social media, one post by Belfast Live on Facebook was commented on 179 times, 539 likes and had 113 shares. What this speaks to is the ability of a small and short documentary to raise awareness of the cultural impact of cinema on a communities lives. The story of that community has been one of trauma and change for the most part, and this screening allowed that community to celebrate an integral part of what held the community together over six decades, reminding them of what place cinema had in their lives.


The Ormeau Road was, and is, a predominantly working class community and the film dwelt on the importance of cinema to a divided disadvantaged community. 11% of the audience identified as being from a disadvantaged community,  this ensured that wider and historically marginalised areas of Belfast society had the opportunity to engage with their story on screen. With 22% identifying as LGBTQ+, the audience reflects a wider engagement across NI society.

Knowledge & Experience

 The younger members of the audience were able to engage with the history of their own community and enjoy the creativity of local film makers. As the film had been crowdfunded and the producers were able to tell that story, younger audiences were also made aware of the ability of filmmakers to create work without major backing of traditional.

Social Cohesion

The theme of Cinema Day 18 was ‘home’ and the screening encapsulated the need for communities to engage with their home in order to understand its worth. The wider archive that played such a part in the film allowed the audience to visually engage with what had played such a role in their lives on the Ormeau Road. As the screening took place with in the wider Cinema Day, the importance of the Curzon in screening to all comers for six decades, linked the concept of ‘Home’ with cinema.


Screening film in a community venue such as Clanmill Housing Association allows residents to feel part if the wider arts and culture offer in the city, and gives them a sense of cohesion with the local community outside their walls.


This was a locally produced film, using skills and creativity from within the community. It has been selected for the Syracuse International Film Festival 2018 in competition. The screening brought film audiences to the Ormeau Road after a period of 21 years, proving the ability of small cinema to contribute to a communities income, rather than flow out. 


What audiences said

  • Fantastic idea to screen film on the site of the Curzon!

  • Just a brilliant night out – thanks!

  • Brought back loads of memories!

What professionals, press and partners said

  • 'Curzon to show a film again for first time nearly two decades' -Belfast Live

  • The Curzon cinema was a real landmark on the Ormeau Road and so many local people still have fond memories of trips to The Curzon to see the latest releases. We’re delighted to be able to help The Curzon Project recreate those special times with a showing of their film here on the site of the old cinema. - Tim O’Malley, Community Development Manager at Clanmil Housing,