Celebrating Curzon Memories & Award-winning App

LoSAward WinnerThe Curzon Memories App won a Learning on Screen Award for best General Education Multimedia project. The winners were announced at a formal awards ceremony at the BFI Southbank, London on April 18th 2013, introduced by Shami Chakrabarti (Liberty), followed by a networking reception.

Here’s what the judges were looking for: “work that is easy to navigate and has a consistent interface will be rewarded as will original design and technical features which add to the effectiveness of the material.” Ian Wall summed up the jury’s thoughts of the resource as “an impressive and innovative use of app technology, with strong educational insight into the cinema.”

Winning the award was timely as I was able to show it off in person at the 101st Birthday of the Curzon Community Cinema at the Heritage Lottery Funded Curzon Memories Celebration Day on 20th April, pictured below with Education Officer, Cathy Poole:

8664597441_d5ec7df634_cThe HLF funded the event which enabled the cinema to buy iPads to make the app accessible to visitors who don’t have a smartphone or device. Curzon Youth Panel volunteers are pictured below using iPads to demonstrate the app to visitors at the Curzon Memories Celebration:

demonstration_zIt was a wonderful event which enabled people who had contributed memories to come together to celebrate the cinema, watching edited sequences of memories on themes such as Stars, Audiences, Saturday Morning Pictures, Working at the Curzon, World War 2 and hearing about how the Community Cinema came to be set up by Jon Weber when the cinema was in danger of going under in 1995. Memories were a mixture of videos gathered by Education Officer Cathy Poole and me and audio memories gathered by Curzon Trustee, Cathy Mackerras. Maurice Thornton projected pictures in the miniature cinema and there was an opportunity to visit the Curzon Collection.

It struck me what an important role the cinema has played in the cultural life of the town, as well as the range of different experiences and memories it evokes – snogging in the back row, sneaking in the back via the toilets, dancing in the aisles. As the cinema reaches the end of its centenary year, here’s to another 100 years of cinema-going in Clevedon under the new directorship of Gary Topp.

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Curzon Memories Celebration Day

Really excited to be invited to the Curzon Memories Celebration Day on Sat 20 April.

Curzon Exterior 300dpi

All those who have given us their memories of the Curzon are invited to view a programme of films and audio pieces created from these interviews. This event, which begins at 10.30, is invitation only; please contact delphine@curzon.org.uk if you would like to attend.


However, The Curzon Collection is also open to the general public all day, from 11am and there will be an opportunity to try out the Curzon Memories App throughout the inside and outside cinema and also have a go on Projection Hero.

Jess CUHope to see you there!

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Lost Cinemas Launch: Sunday 24 March – Registration Now Open!

From the makers of the Curzon Memories App, comes The Lost Cinemas of Castle Park, a new app celebrating over 100-years of cinema-going in Bristol city centre, now available from iTunes.  The app covers 16 cinemas in and around the park, from the first moving pictures screened at the Tivoli, Broadmead in 1896 to the present day.

Lost Cinemas invite

To launch the app we’re having a celebration on Sunday 24 March – the anniversary of the opening of Bristol’s first purpose-built cinema, The Queens Picture House in 1910.  The launch will kick off at the Bandstand in Castle Park at 3pm with the chance to try out the app, educational activities for children designed by Local Learning and cinema memory gathering.  After the Intermission we’ll regroup at sunset, 7pm, for a pop-up cinema solar-powered cinema screening of Mad About Music (1938) – the first film to be screened at the Odeon, Union Street, the only cinema featured in the app still operating today.

A lighthearted musical, starring Deana Durbin, Mad About Music was nominated for four Oscars and features the catchy theme tune, “I Love to Whistle”:


New Bristol Logo

A contingency venue in case of bad weather has kindly been provided by the nearby Marriott Hotel (the location of the Europa Cinema which also features in the app), in the first floor Consevatory.

The app is compatible with iOS, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.  We will also make a demo version available on Android phones for the launch. A limited number of handsets will be available if you don’t have a smartphone.  Select the appropriate ticket when you register.

Register for your free ticket at: http://lostcinemas.eventbrite.co.uk or email me if you require any further information.

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Curzon Memories App nominated for BUFVC Award

The Curzon Memories App has been nominated for a British Universities Film and Video Council Learning On Screen Award 2013 in the category of General Education Non-Broadcast / Multimedia.

LoS Web-Gen Ed Non Broadcast_Multi NOMINATION-06The awards ceremony is taking place at BFI London from 5.30pm on Thursday 18 April, followed by networking and a canapé reception.  Very honoured to have been nominated and excited about the canapés.  You can book tickets here.

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Explosions, Sex and Murder

I recently gave a talk about the Curzon Memories App and The Lost Cinemas of Castle Park app at the Digital Cultures Research Centre “Wednesdays After Work” seminar on 12 December entitled:


The title was obviously designed to mimic lurid cinema publicity and it did entice a few people down – but it wasn’t under false pretences as I covered all three in my discussion of the Blitz bombings that affected both the Curzon and Castle Park, snogging in the back row and the rise of ‘Continental’ cinemas like the Tatler (below), and the actual murder of a cinema manager during the screening of The Light that Failed (1939) at the Odeon at the precise moment that gun shots went off on screen…


I’ve uploaded the slides on Slideshare if you missed it (please be aware that this is a pdf whereas the presentation itself was all-singing and all-dancing including audio extracts from the apps, although where possible I’ve linked to videos and other content online).

I’ve also posted a review of the recent Besides the Screen conference (Goldsmiths (1-2 Dec) on the DCRC blog, including an audio link to my keynote at the end.

…and for my next gig I’m presenting a poster on the City Strata project at MeCCSA 2013 in Derry, which is also hosting the UK City of Culture 2013 – no peace for the wicked!

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New Improved: Curzon Memories App Update


The Curzon Memories App has recently been updated with several new improved features – including the ability to add your own cinema memories or comments via Twitter, donate to the Curzon’s restoration fund and link to the Box Office where you can now book tickets online.  So why waste time typing in a URL, when you can just open the app and see What’s On? Available on Apple iTunes and Android Google Play.

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City Strata / Cinemapping research outcomes

Since launching the Curzon Memories App in March 2012 I’ve been busy working on another cinema-related project as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council REACT Hub ‘Heritage’ sandbox, which might be of interest.  The City Strata project was a collaboration with creative economy partner, Jo Reid of Calvium (the tech company behind the Curzon Memories app) and Peter Insole from the Historic Environment Record at Bristol City Council.

The City Strata platform enables developers to create different heritage ‘layers’ or ways of experiencing the city, that their users can then enhance by uploading their own content. Behind the scenes, the platform innovates by drawing content that relates to your specific location from a remote geo-database – in this case BCC’s Know Your Place historic ArcGIS map. By storing content in ‘The Cloud’ more information can be accessed locally than can fit into a normal app, making it scalable for multiple urban, national or even global points of interest. The platform was developed via the Cinemapping prototype, which maps Bristol’s historic cinemas, so that users can experience local cinema history in the places where it actually happened.

As part of the 3- month rapid-prototyping REACT ‘Heritage Sandbox’ process, the City Strata team undertook a series of pilots and R&D tests.  We aimed to test two elements, the single point of interest which we piloted at the Whiteladies Picture House and multiple points of interest which we piloted in and around Castle Park, exploring how to cache multiple hotspots and whether iOS push notification could be used to alert users of nearby cinemas.  The Sandbox process resulted in a white paper on ‘Making Scalable Location-Aware Apps’ and a  poster outlining the research process which was presented at the REACT Showcase event at the Watershed at the end of September. You can watch a video of the keynote by Charles Leadbeater and the panel discussions with the REACT participants here; read more about the project and watch a short video here; and a press pack about the whole Heritage sandbox scheme is available here.

I am now continuing to work on the ‘Lost Cities of Castle Park’ App which spans over 100-years of cinema exhibition from the first moving pictures screened at the Tivoli in 1896 to the still extant Odeon which has been screening pictures since 1938.  The app covers 13 cinemas in and around the park and I’m aiming to launch the app later in the Fall to coincide with the anniversary of the Blitz which destroyed the magnificent Regent in November 1940. Watch this space.

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Curzon Through to National Lottery Final

The Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon has been selected as one of three heritage finalists (out of a total of 21 across all categories) for the National Lottery Awards.  All 21 finalists will attend a star-studded BBC ceremony later this year where the winners will be revealed by a host of celebrity guests. Voting for the finals will be open on Tuesday 11th September at 9am – don’t forget to support The Curzon!

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Curzon Memories App featured on Radio 4 You and Yours

The Curzon Memories App was featured on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours on Monday 30 July 2012.  The item reviewed the recent AppCircus Google Campus London app development showcase where the app was selected to be pitched in front of a distinguished panel of judges, earlier in July. The section on apps is about 19 minutes into the slot.

In the broadcast, I introduce the app and outline its key features, including the unique Projection Hero installation, a miniature cinema which you can manipulate from your smartphone, which particularly appealed to one of the jury, Facebook’s  Simon Cross:

“You take the concept of what they did which is to bring the history of this old cinema to life, they could’ve stopped at videos and text, but connecting it to something physical such as a screen you can control from your phone, that’s a completely different experience … it just  feels like you are connected to it, because your phone is controlling it … that feels pretty cool to me”.  

The things that Cross loves in an app involve “location and contextuality, because that’s what a phone does better than anything else, it knows where you are and it’s your device, it’s very personal.”

AppCircus organiser Rudy De Waele says “Apps are the way to engage users, so the mobile application becomes your remote control for the physical world”.

This idea is embodied in Projection Hero, an Internet of Things installation developed in collaboration with Tarim from Media playgrounds, where you can gain control of the cinema using your smartphone:

The installation situates you as the projectionist, inviting you to dim the lights, open the tabs and play the next reel using sensors and actuators to manipulate the installation. Hidden inside the box is a laptop which connects to an Internet server with an Arduino and h-bridge to control the curtains and lights.

The app, which was developed with AppFurnace by Calvium, sadly wasn’t to win the AppCircus pitch, but the opportunity to pitch in front of judges was invaluable.

The Internet of Things is the subject of a future REACT hub ‘Objects Sandbox’ theme which will be in development Jan – March 2014, with production running April through June 2014.

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Curzon Cinema shortlisted for National Lottery Award

The Curzon Community Cinema in Clevedon has been shortlisted for the semi-finals of the National Lottery Awards – you can vote for them here. Please spread the word and get as many people to vote as possible.


The Curzon Community Cinema in Clevedon is through to the semi-finals of The National Lottery Awards 2012, and needs the public’s votes to win.

The Cinema, which celebrates its centenary this year, is one of only ten projects to make it through to the semi-finals in the Best Heritage Project category of The National Lottery Awards.  The Awards are an annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects, and they recognise and celebrate the difference that Lottery-funded projects make to communities across the UK.

The Curzon was awarded £321,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2010 as part funding toward a £500,000 refurbishment project.  The money allowed the cinema to complete the most urgent repairs to the Grade II listed building’s roof, create a new, permanent exhibition on the history of cinema in Clevedon, open a new lounge bar, and better display the Curzon Collection of Heritage Cinema Technology.  The money also allowed the Curzon to employ a full time Education and Learning Coordinator, who has developed an extensive programme of work with local schools, provided vocational experiences for the Curzon Youth Panel, and extended the Curzon’s programme to include regular Senior Screenings, and the new Curzon Kids’ Club.

The winning project in each category will receive national recognition on a star-studded BBC One TV show in early November and will receive a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

Gareth Negus, Director of the Curzon, said, “We’re delighted to have reached the semi-finals of the awards; the news was a marvellous 100th birthday present!  The Curzon has always been a cinema for the people and the aim of our project was to share with the public the rich heritage of our building, and of cinema exhibition in the UK.  The Curzon embodies the story of cinema in the UK in many ways, and we hope to continue that story for many years to come.”

Voting for the finals starts at 9am on Tuesday 26 June and ends at midnight on Sunday 22 July. To register your vote for the Curzon, log on to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards or call 0844 836 9712. Calls cost no more than 5p from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary, calls from mobiles could cost considerably more. Callers are advised to check with their telephone network provider to be certain of the cost. No profit will be made from the cost of the phone vote by The National Lottery

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