Discovering the History of the Commonwealth Games

13 Sep 2022

4 mins
Birmingham Archive workshops on the Commonwealth Games - Hodge Hill Primary
Birmingham Archive workshops on the Commonwealth Games - Hodge Hill Primary

To kick off the Commonwealth Games fever in the Midlands this summer, Into Film offered Birmingham based primary schools an opportunity to take part in an archive film and filmmaking workshop. The use of archive film footage is crucial in allowing young people to discover the history of the Commonwealth Games, and the evolution of sports and leisure facilities in their local area.

Fourteen workshops were delivered to more than 300 young people aged between 7-11 years old in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games, which took place from 28 July to 8 August 2022. The students explored the importance of the tournament to their local area as Birmingham prepared to host the Games for the very first time. Supported by Media Archive for Central England (MACE) and BFI National Archive collections, archive footage of sports facilities in Birmingham were shown to the young people, as well as a clip of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Cardiff, 1955.

Benjamin Reynolds, Archive Access Coordinator for MACE, attended one of the workshops and said, "It was great to see the year 5s enjoying their archive workshops at Hodge Hill Primary School, and to see them engage with the area they live in and what it was like 50 years ago. The Media Archive for Central England holds so many treasures and so it was a pleasure to see them view the material, as well as to answer their questions about archiving and why we do it".

The young people were amazed at what local footage is available to view online in the MACE and BFI archive film catalogues, and they both discovered the importance of archive film and developed their local history knowledge. Meanwhile, participating teachers gained an understanding of how to access footage from a local/national archive to help students with their learning in subjects such as filmmaking and creative writing.

The young people involved in the workshop then put their filmmaking skills to the test. After deciding their filmmaking roles, the students created a 90-second single shot film to introduce the Commonwealth Games to Birmingham. Being assigned individual roles and working within a larger group really helped develop their confidence and communication skills, and the energy they all displayed was truly inspiring. At the end of the workshop, their films were screened and it's safe to say that there are some future filmmakers amongst them.

For more information on how you can incorporate archive film into your lessons, head to our Into Archive Film: Past Present Future hub and continue to learn about the Commonwealth Games through our streaming service, Into Film+.

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