Oct 19, 2008

Home Movie Boxing Day

Well, the day after the big holiday is called Boxing Day, eh.

At yesterday's Anthology Film Archives screening of home movies, one Super 8 film made an emotional impact that even surpassed the story of boxer Jose Torres' wedding film turning up in 2006. This year, a married couple and their adult daughter brought a single reel of Super 8, which they told us the daughter found in her grandmother's house in Spain. They had been unable to view the footage, so they brought it for us to watch with them.

They told us that the box holding the film indicated that it might be something from grandfather's poultry business back in Spain. Instead, what it turned out to be was a film that none of them had seen -- or even knew existed. Which shock, joy, and tears they realized that what we were watching was film of their own wedding.

The bride and groom had come to the U.S. to study. One day before he entered Duke University law school, the groom was joined by the bride and their immediate family members, who traveled from Spain for the wedding. Seventeen people gathered in a Catholic church in Durham, North Carolina in 1967. After the watching the whole film the family concluded it must have been the brother-in-law who shot it. No one knew what had happened to it all these years.

As often happens at these home movie affairs, moments of serendipity followed. We learned that the couple had celebrated their 41st wedding anniversity that very week. And that she had become a United States citizen 24 hours before HMD. A good week.

The New York Home Movie Day began this year with a film shot in Nigeria. A man, originally from Gary, Indiana, brought a reel of 16mm film his father took when visiting Nigeria in the 1960s. The moviemaker was a Baptist minister whose church had a mission relationship with a Nigerian church. While we listened to the son narrate what parts of the film he could, he took out his cell phone and called his 86-year-old mother while the film was still running. We had the privilege of hearing their sweet dialog about the trip 40+ years ago and what daddy (who passed away 32 years ago) had done in Nigeria. The footage ended with a kind of portrait of the new church he built in Gary.

I also like very much a 50+ year-old black-and-white birthday party film. Shot in 16mm, it showed "Pinky's 3rd Birthday," which took place in a large family home in Buenos Aires. Young Pinky and her party guests were being entertained by trained dogs and a ventriloquist, as well as the hired cinematographer.

Save that one.

Oct 18, 2008

Happy Home Movie Day, Jack Dempsey

Now that Home Movie Day (Internationale) occurs near the date UNESCO recently established as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (October 27), the HMD movement is appropriately global in scope. Many of us are attending Home Movie Day events today, October 18, including we New Yorkers heading out to Anthology Film Archives' Maya Deren Theater (just a few dozen blocks down the East Side from the United Nations building).

At HomeMovieDay.com one reads that HMD is now established in sites such as Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Berlin, London, Columbia [SC], Mexico City, Slovenia [!], Toronto, Milan, eleven locations in Japan, and Gerringong, Australia. The local events always have at least a few revelations, and sometimes major ones -- such as the discovery of Wallace Kelly's films (ca. 1929-50) and his masterpiece OUR DAY (1938). Shot in the town of Lebanon, Kentucky, the entertaining short 16mm film leapt onto the National Film Registry a few months after its appearance at Anthology. (With preservation and 35mm blow-up done by Colorlab.)

By the way, you can see the whole 16 minutes of OUR DAY online now, thanks to Martha Kelly and KET in Louisville. There's also a podcast of a TV segment about Wallace Kelly.

Here's to more amateur film discoveries and rediscoveries around the world this week. Thanks to the Center for Home Movies, with which the Orphan Film Symposium proudly associates.

By the way, did you know that Italy has a national preservation and archiving project that goes by the name Associazione Home Movies? (HomeMovies.it)

Or, did you know that in 1927, one could buy 16mm recordings of the Gene Tunney - Jack Dempsey heavyweight title fight, only 18 hours after the bout ended? It's true.

Oct 16, 2008

the 7th [!] Orphan Film Symposium

Orphans 7

7th Orphan Film Symposium

April 7-10, 2010

National Audio-Visual Conservation Center
Library of Congress, Culpeper, Virginia

The Orphan Film Symposium travels to the
Library of Congress for its seventh biennial gathering of archivists, scholars, preservationists, curators, collectors, technology experts, and media artists from around the world in saving, studying, and screening neglected moving images. New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts / Department of Cinema Studies is pleased to accept the Library’s invitation to convene in the NAVCC’s jewel-box Mount Pony Theater on the new Packard Campus, giving the symposium optimal presentation of images and sounds in all film, video, and digital formats.

Call for Presentations

Following on the internationalism evident in 2008 at Orphans 6: The State (where 18 nations were represented), Orphans 7 will focus on global and transnational issues. How have moving images circulated across national and other boundaries? How are neglected archival materials accessed and used across and within borders?

We seek proposals for presentations on topics including: film repatriation projects, moving image works about international and regional subject matter; regional and transnational cinemas (e.g., the Global South, the West, Bollywood, Nollywood, Middle Eastern, Southeast Asian, etc.); issues of migration, mobility, and global/local dynamics; international co-productions; intellectual property and copyright debates; films altered for foreign markets and multiplelanguage releases; stylistic cross-fertilization; heritage, cultural property, and developing nations; diasporic cinemas; border cultures; World-Wide Web as production-distribution site and de facto ‘archive’; DVD regions; world film festivals and archives; the World Cinema Foundation; the work of international associations in preservation and access; and other neglected historical and archival material that sheds light on globalization and the transnational aspects of film history and archiving. New productions by media artists using archival material are also sought, including nominations for the Helen Hill Award (given to innovative, independent filmmakers).



NYU Cinema Studies

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