header image

HMD Report: Berkeley, California 2008

HMD Report: Berkeley, California

Thanks to Pamela Jean Smith for this East Bay HMD Report:

This was PFA’s second Home Movie Day, and it was bigger and better this year than last. We were overflowing with films – a number of folks walked in toward the end and we didn’t have time to show them because there was a queue already. Next year we’ll have more inspection time with maybe a cut-off point, followed by a longer open screening. I like reading everyone’s reports to get a sense of the best way to time things.

Three local labs donated transfer time for bingo prizes, and one lab (thank you Video Transfer Lab!) donated a lot of supplies like presstapes, leader and gloves. We also gave away Kodachrome super8 film, a HMD tote bag and a HMD calendar as bingo prizes.

People came to the open screening from all over the Bay – from Oakland to Berkeley to Novato to Pleasanton to San Francisco.

After the open screening, I showed a program of home movies from people who had submitted films in advance, and from PFA’s Collection, representing Richmond, Pinole, El Cerrito, Fresno and of course San Francisco. We had specially-selected music for each movie and there were five families in attendance who talked as their films rolled through.

Event Venue: Pacific Film Archive

Event time (inspection): 12:00-1:00 plus early drop off

Event time (open screening): 1:00-3:30pm ; (curated screening): 4:00-5:30pm

Total Audience (open screening): 45 (not including volunteers); (curated screening): 55

Number of people bringing films: 17

Films screened by Gauge (open screening): 8mm: 2, Super 8: 11, 16mm: 4, 9.5mm: 0, Video: 0

4 o’clock screening: 8mm: 2, Super 8: 5, 16mm: 9.5mm: 0, Video: 2 (1 dvd, 1 digibeta)

Volunteers: 9 – Lucy Laird (co-organizer/projectionist/emcee), Jon Shibata (projectionist/smooth operator), Lauren Sorenson (inspector), Adrienne Cardwell (inspector/super 8 record keeper- film to be processed), Jessie Frey (inspector/sign-in), Jean Goldman (greeter/sign-in), Victoria Jaschob (greeter/film runner), Troy Vadakan (dj), Pamela Jean Smith (co-organizer/inspector/sometime emcee)

Special events/screenings: ‘Accidental Art: A Home Movie Day Celebration’ – curated program of home movies from the Bay Area with audience participation and special music.

Press (pre-event and post-event): Flavorpill, SF Examiner, SF Weekly, PFA Film Notes/Calendar. Calendar listings in weekly independent newspapers the Guardian, East Bay Express, Berkeley Daily Planet and online on SF Station, squid list, fecal face, and UC Berkeley’s website. I requested public service announcements on KALX, KALW and Pacifica Radio but I’m not sure if they made any shout outs. One person came by because he heard about the day on BoingBoing.

Highlights from the open screening (thanks to Lucy for most of these notes!):

  • Beautiful Kodachrome 16mm footage of typical 1950s North Jersey suburban life- Christmas, Easter celebrations (with an egg hunt and lots of men dressed as bunnies), going to the Jersey shore, playing in the above-ground pool (lots of slo-mo shots of people diving in). Doug in leopard-print onesie pajamas (at age 5 or 6?) with his brother, praying at the nativity scene set up in their living room. They were a pretty devoutly Catholic family, so there was footage of a lot of religious ceremonies. The most bizarre one was some saint’s celebration (Doug didn’t know which) that involved two little kids, a girl and a boy, getting dressed up as a nun and a priest and walking
    around with their adult counterparts. Their little nun and priest outfits were so eerily accurate and everybody loved it. Another reel was his parents’ newlywed trip. They drove down to Florida, and his dad made sure to get footage of all the crazy hotel signage and the roadside attractions, like the place where you could get a bunch of parrots to perch on your arms and a chimpanzee show where chimps play the piano (“Liberace) and the drums, ride bikes and tightrope walk. His dad also did some fun trick camerawork—a car drove along the beach and the woman sitting in the front seat changed from his aunt to his mom. Weird. But it was all so beautifully shot!
  • Black and white 16mm reel of the grand opening of the Klarr and Wilson Appliance store in Corvallis, Oregon, 1946. Mr. Fisher explained that it was such an exciting event because WW2 had prevented any new cars and appliances from being built (all metal going to ammunition and tanks, etc). People were inspecting ice trays, opening and closing the doors on beautiful old stoves and refrigerators. There was even a reporter there, taking notes on it all.
  • An anonymous regular 8 Kodachrome reel from 1960 from Steve Polta’s collection of home movies. Two African American boys drumming in the basement, followed by a dance, where the adults are slow dancing and making out.
  • Super 8 Kodachrome of 1974 Bangkok – Troy’s mom with his older brothers, lots of big dogs, and his dad’s fancy American sportscar. Their house is now the Japanese embassy.

There were some particularly touching moments with people connecting with their family through film: The Oyamas brought in a box of super 8 films from Cupertino CA and Japan. The one we were able to show was vibrant Kodachrome super8mm
of Mr. Oyama’s two daughters playing in Cupertino, and of his elderly mother covered in blankets, sitting in a chair, surrounded by her granddaughters and daughter in law. Mr. Oyama narrated that the film was shot about 2 weeks before his mother died. He spoke of how important it is to tell your parents how much you appreciate them, before it is too late. He had that chance, but knows that not everyone is so lucky.

Judy came in with a super 8 reel that her dad shot about 3 months before his death in 1981, when he came to visit Judy in SF. The reel was a lot of footage of the ocean because it was the first time her parents (who lived in the midwest, maybe Iowa) had seen it. It was important for her to remember her father, as the anniversary of his
death was approaching. Judy’s ex-boyfriend unexpectedly appeared. She was pretty shocked seeing him and was sort of fanning her face and acting embarrassed in front of her now-husband.

I showed a black and white 16mm 1-minute film of two children playing on Ocean Beach in 1965 from a collection deposited at PFA. The depositor’s son and his son came to the screening. He hadn’t seen his dad in a long time because he lives in Australia, and he was excited for his son to see films his grandfather had shot, films that included his older brother and sister (his son’s uncle and aunt).

Highlights from the curated part included a 1961 film of a wedding at City Hall where the film changes from b&w to color after the judge pronounces the couple husband and wife (adorable!); two-way traffic on the upper level of the Bay Bridge in 1960; an African American family visiting the Cliff House in 1966 then a cut to people picking grapes in Richmond; Canyon Cinema offices in 1969; a road film on route 395 to Reno and Lake Tahoe (with titles and elaborate camera set-ups featuring birthday cake and ginger ale); an aristocratic group from Pacific Heights dancing the hula and the Charleston in 1926; San Francisco’s Gay Pride Parade in 1974 (John Carlson’s footage – bought by Van Sant for use in his film Milk – look out for
it).

I have some left over HMD 08 buttons – let me know if you want one and I will send it to you! And I can email you the soundtrack for the 4 o’clock screening if you want to have a listen. Pictures on Flickr forthcoming….