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CineRicordi: co-creating a digital archive to map memories of cinema-going in post-war Italy

CineRicordi (www.cinericordi.it) is an online archive that documents the history of cinema-going in postwar Italy through a combination of oral histories and archival materials. Based on the Italian Cinema Audiences project (2013-2016), the archive features 160 video-interviews with ordinary cinema-goers from across Italy and over 300 artefacts, which were crowdsourced from private collections in collaboration with our community partner UNITRE (University of the Third Age Italy). The project has revealed that oral histories could lead to a richer understanding of the spatial and geographical dimensions of memory, as we were able to analyse how our participants reconstructed their journeys around their cities, or try to remember the location of a particular cinema. In light of this, our paper will examine the role of topographical memory in the process of reconstructing Italian cinema history through the creation of a digital archive.  In this presentation, we will illustrate how using digital mapping has allowed us to explore some of the broader questions associated with the urban history of film consumption and the experience of cinema-going in cities across Italy. The CineRicordi archive has been used to allow collaborative data collection and co-curation where cinema-goers and researchers have worked together to give unprecedented access to objects and stories, up until now buried in personal archives, and crucial for the understanding of film culture, audience preferences, and the significance of cinema-going in the lives of Italians.