Cinema in Context

How To Do

How many feature films were exhibited in Utrecht in 1931?

It is easy to do some counting in Cinema Context. This is sometimes a necessary first step that must be made in order to answer more complex questions.


  • Open Cinema Context in a new window
  • Click on Films at the top of the page. You see the advanced search screen
  • Enter 'Utrecht' in the first search field and select City of screening from the pull-down menu
  • Limit the search query to the desired period: enter ‘1931’ and ‘1932’ in the fields marked film shown between
  • Select both under 'Limit search query to'
  • Click on
  • Search results will list ‘1 to 10 of 878’. This means that 878 films have been found that match your search query


  • In this example, Cinema Context only counts films of which a screening is recorded in the database. Not all film programmes in Utrecht in 1931 are in the database, but most are. For instance, the Vreeburg Bioscoop programme for 4 December is not present, nor is that of the Olympia Cinema for 4 September. The total number listed here is therefore a minimum, but in this case it approximates the maximum. The further you go back into the past, the bigger the chance that a screening of that film is missing, especially before 1918. The listed number of screened films grows less reliable as one moves back further in history.
  • Compare the number of films screened in 1931 with the number of films screened today. How would you explain the difference?
  • All these films were approved by the Netherlands Board of Film Censors prior to their release, or else they were not allowed to be screened. The workings of the Board of Film Censors in a city can be subjected to further analysis. One can easily break down the films on the basis of censorship rating. One can count for instance how many of the films that were screened in 1931 were approved for persons of 18 years and older. Select Censorship rating from the pull-down menu beside the advanced search box, and use the Index that will appear.
  • Realise also that children under 14 years of age were prohibited from going to the cinema in Utrecht in this period. Would this influence the selection of films that were screened there? You might not be able to answer this question right away. How would you handle this problem? See also the article by Bert Hogenkamp, “A Curly Top, a royal engagement and a local bylaw: cinema exhibition and innovation in Utrecht in 1936", in: Film History, vol. 17 nr. 1 (2005), p. 139-147.
  • You can further refine search results from Cinema Context. If for instance you wish to know how many feature films were screened both in Utrecht and in The Hague in 1931, then click on refine search query on the results page. Enter ‘Den Haag’ (Cinema Context does not recognize the English translation ‘The Hague’) in the second search field and select City of screening in the pull-down menu behind it. Click on Search films. You will now see a list of films that were screened in Utrecht as well as in The Hague in 1931. The number is noted at the top of the list.


Answer the following question: How many feature films were screened in Groningen in 1920?