Film archive project in running for top award

Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services at Public Records Office Northern Ireland and Francis Jones, Archive Education Officer at Northern Ireland Screen check out the digital archive Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Screen, which is competing to be named Best Heritage Project in this year's National Lottery Awards. Pic by Bill Smyth
Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services at Public Records Office Northern Ireland and Francis Jones, Archive Education Officer at Northern Ireland Screen check out the digital archive Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Screen, which is competing to be named Best Heritage Project in this year's National Lottery Awards. Pic by Bill Smyth

A digital film archive hosted at Lisburn City Library and the Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museum is in line for a prestigious accolade after reaching the finals of the National Lottery Awards.

Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Film, run by Northern Ireland Screen, is competing against six others in the Best Heritage Project category. They beat off stiff competition from over 1,300 organisations, a record number of entries, to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards – the annual search for the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects.

The project with the most votes will be crowned the winner and receive a £5,000 cash prize to spend on their project, an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy and the chance to attend a star-studded glittering awards ceremony to be broadcast on BBC One in September.

The BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage project is one of the biggest film archive schemes ever undertaken, aiming to digitise and make available 10,000 titles from across the UK by the end of 2017. As part of this, Northern Ireland Screen has been curating and making accessible film materials to tell the region’s unique stories for audiences old and new, spanning from 1897 to the present day.

Francis Jones, Digital Archive Officer, Northern Ireland Screen said: “We are delighted that our work in Northern Ireland for the Unlocking Film Heritage project has been recognised through this nomination for a National Lottery Award.

“National Lottery funding has allowed us to preserve parts of Northern Ireland history, society and culture that would otherwise have been lost. It’s about capturing memories and stories and being able to share these across the region. Not only was it essential to safeguard this material for future generations, but we use these films to make an impact on people’s lives today, bringing film into communities across Northern Ireland – into nursing homes and schools, working with local hospices and historical societies - and reaching people who live in rural or isolated areas.

“We hope the public will get behind us and vote for us in the Best Heritage Project category.”

Jackie O’Sullivan, from the National Lottery Awards added: “National Lottery players raise £30 million every single week for good causes across the UK and the work done with that money is truly life-changing.

“The National Lottery Awards celebrate the talent and dedication of the amazing staff and volunteers who run these incredible National Lottery funded projects for the benefit of their communities.

“Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Film has worked very hard to become a finalist and they now need your support, so get voting!”

To vote for Unlocking Film Heritage: Northern Ireland on Film, log on to lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or telephone 0844 836 9703 and follow the campaign on twitter: hashtag #NLAwards.

Voting runs for four weeks from 9am on June 29 until midnight on July 27.

There are seven projects competing for votes across seven categories, reflecting the main areas of National Lottery funding: arts, sport, heritage, health, environment, education and voluntary/charity.