Mapping cinema experience as living knowledge across Italy's generational divide


Principal Investigator: Daniela Treveri Gennari
Co-investigators: Danielle Hipkins; Catherine O'Rawe
Collaborators: Associazione Nazionale delle Università della Terza Età-UNITRE; Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia; Archivio Centrale di Stato; Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca; Digital Humanities Institute, University of Sheffield
Duration: From 2017 to 2018

This project will create innovative engagement and impact activities with different generations of Italian audiences, building on resources and activities created by the AHRC-funded “Lost Italian Cinema Audiences” project (ICA), 2013-2016.

The project is a collaboration between the ICA team and our community co-investigator, UNITRE (University of the Third Age), a key partner in oral history data collection, dissemination and validation within the ICA research project, whose public engagement events provided our pathways for impact. UNITRE and ICA will collaborate on producing, testing and widely disseminating an interactive digital archive. The new digital archive will significantly enhance the oral history narratives collected in ICA, with previously unavailable data supplied by Italian archives (publicity material, photos, plans of cinemas etc.) and by UNITRE members (photos and artifacts of Italian cinema-going in the 1950s).

The ICA project has demonstrated that memory preservation places audiences in control of their cultural heritage. Our audiences felt the custodial responsibility of their cultural history when their memories were preserved in the video-interviews and shared in public engagement events. These memories must now be made easily available in sustainable form to younger generations, so that they can become the living curators of a virtual archive of cinema-going experience.  A pilot project lead by Dr Treveri Gennari has suggested that sharing experiences and memories of cinema-going between older people and schoolchildren has the potential to generate strong cultural and affective cohesion. The project will therefore offer different generations of Italians the possibility to function as living curators of a virtual archive of their own cinema history.

Moreover, this new project will reach and train different communities on the use of the digital archive, making the new resource available to a great number of user-groups.  These are:

  • Older generations of cinema-goers, through our community partner UNITRE
  • Schoolchildren, through a national competition through the Education Ministry – Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca – MIUR, which will ensure development of class activities and curriculum integration
  • The general public, through audio-visual libraries that supply audio-visual resources in different regions

As the main aim of this project is to establish innovative, digital humanities-based impact and engagement activities to connect different generations with the research gathered under the “Lost Italian Audiences” project (ICA), it will:

  • Empower older people to take control of their own memories of cinema-going and ‘map’ them in our digital archive; this will be made possible by a close working relationship with our community Co-Investigator UNITRE.
  • Engage schoolchildren in interpersonal digital encounters with the older generations of Italians in order to collaborate in the investigation of their neighborhoods, their community and their shared cultural history. We will achieve this by working with schools in 8 regions of Italy to stimulate and facilitate the use of the portal through a national competition, where schools will team up with the elderly in order to map their memories of cinema-going, add further data and metadata, and thereby share ownership of their own cultural heritage.
  • Involve a much broader community of users through Italian audio-visual libraries, across 8 regions of Italy to ensure greater access and contribution to the digital archive.
  • Train all these different communities of users (school teachers, audio-visual librarians, older people) in the use of the archive to make it available in their learning spaces across the country and to develop a sense of ‘shared authority’.