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Moving memories

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Who: Manchester Metropolitan University's Northwest Film Archive

What: Using archive footage as a platform to co-create a new short film

Why: To engage new audiences and break down barriers

Where: Hulm & Moss Side

When: 2009     

Project description

‘Moving Memories’ is an MMU public engagement fellowship project that tells the story of the communities of Moss Side and Hulme from the late 1950s to the late 1980s in a film that was made using a collection of local documentary television footage. In this 30 minute film, people recall living, working and growing up in the area during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Tales of markets, cold weather and clubbing are mixed in with original BBC regional television footage to form a fascinating record. The award-winning film has subsequently been screened in local community venues on both the BBC and ITV.


  • To engage new audiences in the collections of the North West Film Archive.
  • To break down barriers between the university and the community.

Results and outcomes

What worked well:

  • The film was extremely well-received both locally and regionally – with screenings across community venues and on BBC and ITV
  • The intergenerational aspects of the project helped to build bridges between youngsters and elders in the community
  • The project won a Learning on Screen Award and was short-listed for the Times Higher Education “Most outstanding contribution to the local community” award
  • The relationship with the community partners was key to the success of the project – building trust through an intermediary and positioning them at the centre of the storytelling was key to bringing the archives to life on screen.
  • The project's overall culturally sensitive approach – using local venues and cultural food went down extremely well and showed that MMU was serious about doing justice to the stories of local people.
  • The project gained the support of MMU senior managers who have used the film in presentations to University funders etc.
  • The film makers went onto successfully leverage a further £60,000 from the Museums Libraries and Archives “Learning Transformation” fund.
  • The screenings themselves became a way of generating feedback on how MMU was perceived by different groups in the local community. This information was fed back into the university and is informing the development of strategic plans.

What didn't work well

  • Financial processes / procurement processes at institutions such as universities can sometimes make it difficult to work with freelance and community organisations.

Resources required

The project itself cost £10,000 and was part of a wider public engagement fellowship scheme in which the public voted for 6 projects that they wanted to take place in Hulme and Moss Side.

Top Tips

  1. It takes time to build trust and to demonstrate that universities are serious about doing genuine engagement work.
  2. Culturally sensitive engagement work demands that you work with partners who understand, and come from the relevant contexts.
  3. New audiences can be reached with archive material if the approach is handled sensitively.

Top Quotes

"Films like this, when they are shot with such obvious respect, have a powerful effect on the local people who lived through these amazing times  - the film made some serious points about the challenges faced by the communities but was also full of humour & affection. The people who attended the screening loved it and were moved by it" Libby Tempest, Cultural Services Manager, Manchester Library

"The film is a valid and positive snapshot of the unity and sense of belonging experienced by the people of Moss Side and Hulme.  This film is important because it challenges the negative myths and stereotypes which are present historical and current media messages." Angela Aitken, Long term Moss Side resident

"Its quite funny but strangers are coming up to me in the street and shops and saying I saw you on the TV. What's even more strange, people at work who I don't really know, keep mentioning that they saw me on the TV and wanting to know more about the programme and will there be any more in the future.  The whole thing has been a very good and positive experience."  Sonia Simpson, Resident of Hulme and Moss Side

"As I shopped in places like Trafford Centre and was stopped by people including shop assistants asking and telling me that they saw me on TV - I was even approached at my son’s school by one of the Mums who has been fortunate enough to see it on TV." Dion Taylor-Bell, Contributor


Name: Marion Hewitt and Karen Gabay

Name of organisation: Northwest Film Archive, Manchester Metropolitan University


Telephone: 0161 247 3097