Industry: Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive made available online

Northern Ireland Screen has relaunched its Digital Film Archive, making it available online. The relaunch took place with the help of local filmmakers Mark Cousins, who used the archive extensively in preparation for his latest film I Am Belfast, and Brian Henry-Martin, who directed the Super 8 Stories that feature on the archive.

The archive contains almost 80 hours of moving images about Northern Ireland from 1897 to 2014. Originally launched in November 2000 as part of the British Film Institute’s Millennium Project, Northern Ireland Screen’s Digital Film Archive was previously only accessible at partner locations (museums, libraries etc) across Northern Ireland but now most of the material can be accessed online at

Whether you are a teacher, student, historian, or just have a keen interest in moving images, the Digital Film Archive is a must-see. Highlights include street scenes of Belfast from 1898, Amelia Earhart landing in Derry in 1932; propaganda films from the 1940s highlighting the contribution of Northern Ireland to the War Effort and footage of the Rugby Schools Cup in 1939.

New material from the Mitchell and Kenyon Collection, which gives an interesting insight into the early history of Belfast on film, has recently been added to the archive. New contributions have also been made from local filmmaker collections such as those of Archie Reid and the Spence Brothers. Government films sourced from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland now feature on the archive too.

Amharc Aneas (View from the South), a four part Irish Language Broadcast Fund archive series which reveals a fascinating account of life in Northern Ireland before the Troubles began is now on the archive. Produced by Omas Media, the series makes use of a nigh-on unseen Gael Linn cinema newsreel ‘Amharc Eireann’, which ran from 1959 to 1964.

The oldest footage on the archive is from 1897 when French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumiere took to the streets of Belfast, capturing the earliest known moving images of Northern Ireland; this was just two years after they invented the film camera. These clips can be viewed at any of the partner locations that host the Digital Film Archive.

Speaking on the relaunch Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen said [quote]We are delighted the archive is now online so that more people can access and enjoy this wonderful collection of historic film. One of Northern Ireland Screen’s main aims is to ensure that our rich moving image heritage is safeguarded for current and future generations, and made accessible to the public in a way that is stimulating, entertaining and sustainable.[/quote]