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HMD Report: Washington, D.C. 2006

HMD Report: Washington, D.C.

Amy Gallick reports from Home Movie Day in the nation’s capital:

The Washington DC event was once again exciting, fun and rewarding. We had about 45 people, an ideal number for us. With that number, there was sufficient time to answer questions, screen at least one or two of everyone’s films, and show a few items from LC’s collection. We did run over our 4:00 end time, and went to about 4:30 with screenings. Most of our audience found their way to us from our mention in Daily Candy. We had a number of LC staff in attendance because they saw the event announcement in the LC Gazette. Mention in the Washington Post Express and DCist seemed to bring in a number of people, as well.

We had about 18 audience members bring films, plus some of the volunteers brought materials to screen. We had many family films this year — people at home, babies, etc. One of the DC reps, Jennifer Snyder, brought films of her family, who were fond of doing the chicken dance. Lindsay Harris, another rep, showed film of her brother as a baby (and her parents were in attendance to see it). One audience member’s films featured a family playing Twister, and another man’s Christmas film featured a very cool ‘50s robot the likes of which I have never seen. We had a film of children playing on a frozen Lake Erie. Two women brought films of their family that were shot in Sri Lanka.

One of my favorite films was of a Vietnam War protest that was shot on the Mall in DC. Ironically, as we were showing it, an anti-war protest was happening at the very same time on the Mall! Another man brought his 8th grade stop-motion animation project. He had a cassette soundtrack to go with it, but we could not get that to play. His narration made up for the technical difficulties. He gave us an overview of the plot, described that the large clay creature was a monster, and the rest of the people were townsfolk trying to kill the monster. There were many failed attempts at killing it; the best method featured red sharpies that were supposed to be nuclear weapons. Of course, the townspeople eventually triumphed.

Then there was the most memorable film! A woman brought a beautiful travel film of Austria and Hungary (her father is from Papa, Hungary). There were wonderful scenes from a car window driving over a bridge; there were lakes, there were flowers. As we watched, she told us that her mother always said she ate the best chicken in her life while traveling in Hungary. She was staying somewhere (may have been with family) and was asked if she would like to have chicken for dinner. When the mother said yes, the woman went out and killed a chicken and cooked it for them. Our audience member said, “I hope that’s not on this film.” Well, about 5 minutes later, the film cuts to a smiling woman holding a struggling chicken, eventually breaking its neck! There were screams and some laughter (mostly screams) prompting volunteers in the foyer to run in to the theater to investigate. I closed my eyes until I was told it was safe to open them.

This year’s DC event had the greatest number of volunteers we have ever had. I have to thank Lindsay Harris, Jennifer Snyder, Michael Pahn and Dave Gibson for joining early on to help organize. Jennifer was a PR wizard and Dave Gibson programmed all the films we showed from LC’s collection. Lindsay used her connections to get us some other press in the Express, and Michael made our amazing flyers (I’m sending all this to Brian, don’t worry!).

As a great addition, Julia Nicoll and Jake Kreeger from Colorlab volunteered to help after the Baltimore event was postponed. Jake gave a great talk to the audience, showing examples of Colorlab’s work, and Julia and I were the tag-team projectionists. They also provided us with some much-needed equipment. Our check-in and inspection was very smooth this year. We had three people (Jennifer Snyder, Lindsay Harris and volunteer Jennifer Lewis) at checkpoint one, helping people fill out their paperwork. Christel Schmidt and Marlan Green were at table two, and they helped people view their films on a viewer, to pick out what one or two they might want to show. They also answered preservation questions. Then once the film to be screened was chosen, the participant took the film to Dave Gibson and Janet Ceja-Alcala, who did a thorough inspection, added leader, and delivered the films to Julia and me for projection. Albert Mudrian also helped haul things around, work the lights and drive my equipment back and forth to LC. Finally, I would like to thank Mike Mashon for helping us secure the Pickford Theater as our event location and for putting us in touch with the Public Affairs office, and also for working with the LC Police to allow people to leave with their films after the event.