The Yorkshire Film Archive are a charity who are in possession of over 50,000 professional and amateur films. They have a huge variety of films which together document over 120 years of life in the North and are a rare and valuable record of British life and history. Charlotte Perry discusses their recent showing of Leeds on Film at Hype Park Picture House.
Leeds on Film is a carefully chosen collection of some of their most poignant films. It was shown at the Hyde Park Picture House in two showings on the 2nd November, and was paired with a narration from the Yorkshire Film Archive’s Graham Relton. In this narration, Relton explained the context of each film and succeeded in sharing both his love for the archive and his belief in the importance of preserving and sharing its contents. The showing was an absolute joy to watch; it was entertaining (the evening performance sold out) and it raised awareness of both the archive and Leeds’s history.
I believe that people always have and always will have fascination in the lives of others – these films were engrossing and extremely charming because they simply showed everyday moments of everyday people. The joy from the audience was palpable, and the diversity of ages in the audience was heart-warming to see; it felt as if everyone (from current students to the elderly) was united by a love for Leeds and an interest in engaging with the past. There was something extremely nostalgic about the experience (even for those us of who were not alive when most the footage was filmed) and did lead me to question the extent to which it is possible to watch films such as these and not romanticise life in previous decades.
One film that went down particularly well with the audience and provoked a lot of laughter was one made about the lives of two 14-year old boys from the 1960/70s and their adventures of the summer holidays. The video showed them exploring rural Yorkshire. They ran through fields, climbed tombstones, pretended to fight with each other and dived and swam in the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It was striking to see the normality of their friendship and interaction with each other but the film also highlighted the idea that childhoods of today are significantly different and seem to revolve more around technology and the indoors.
“The joy from the audience was palpable, and the diversity of ages in the audience was heart-warming to see; it felt as if everyone (from current students to the elderly) was united by a love for Leeds and an interest in engaging with the past.”
Since watching Leeds on Film I have explored the Yorkshire Film Archive website and found the full version of my favourite clip used in the film. It is a film made as promotional material for the University in 1983 and features students talking about university life. Search for ‘Leeds University Presents… 23 Minutes’ on the Yorkshire Film archive website if you want a look. I fully recommend giving it a watch if you fancy a laugh at some 1980s haircuts and want proof that student life truly has not changed much in 30 years.
(Image courtesy of Yorkshire Film Archive)