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Home Movie Day News: September 2006 Archives

September 2006 Archives

September 1, 2006


HMD Report: London, England

Guy Edmonds’ report from London:

We’re still collecting ourselves after a bumper attendance of 79 stampeded through our door on Saturday, more than doubling our 2004 tally. Many thanks to Andreas Busche for cranking up the publicity machine to such a pitch. We benefited mostly from features, not just listings, in The Guardian Guide and Time Out but the newly-tapped resource of local area internet newsgroups also played a part. Both Andreas and I also did radio spots

The sheer weight of numbers meant I saw far less films than I did two years ago and our set up here with a number of small spaces rather than one large one (a makeshift corridor cinema for super and standard 8 and our 24 seat cinema for the 16mm) means no one is able to see everything, with some of the screens running simultaneously at times, but at least everyone who brings a film gets to see it. Therefore my report on what turned up is necessarily a little cobbled together.

A friend, Martin Pickles, sent me a precis of what he saw in the 16mm room:

“I saw three black and white 16mm films from the 1930s which were found footage by one filmmaker. The first had a Royal parade (a Coronation?) going along what looked like Shaftesbury Avenue. Then there was footage from the west coast of Scotland, including Mull, Iona and Oban with footage on a small ship, with well-dressed people playing games on deck. There was some colour footage of a Presbyterian gathering, which showed lots of young people having pillow fights and three legged races on a lawn.

“Then there was some colour 16mm from 1952 shot in Dorset with the filmmaker present (an older man with beard, white hair and glasses). He showed a house party full of young people (colour), young people on a beach, a walk round Avebury etc. There was also black and white footage of the house opposite him in Streatham being built. There was also b&w footage of the filmmaker cutting his 21st birthday cake.”

Ronald Grant, projecting the 16mm, said that the Presbytery footage was his favourite because it showed all sorts of hilarious group gymnastics by otherwise staid 1930s adults, which also jumped from black and white to colour within the same scene. I’m going to get in touch with the contributor and offer a transfer of this so hopefully I’ll get to see it myself soon – at the moment it sounds like our best candidate for the Best of HMD DVD.

In screen two we had a huge variety of material, from the avant garde (a woman who had in exemplary anti-preservation fashion hung her film in tree to let the sap drop on it and then buried it in the ground; another woman who had footage of a Fluxus happening in the 1970s) to the most personal of home movies which required the temporary evacuation of our corridor cinema. The material was not salacious, however, rather the contributor, who had not seen it since she was a child, felt it would be potentially upsetting for her to raise her familial ghosts and so requested this private screening. Other corridor highlights included some wonderful amateur narrative productions by Captain Zip, a movie maker and veteran of King’s Road Punk, some of which have already been preserved on video by The Wessex Film and Video Archive. One family finally got to see the premiere of some super 8 footage that had been returned from processing 17 years ago. In the meantime daughter Matilda had entirely grown up and was able to gaze upon her two year old self in pristine condition and vibrant colour. Another contributor had waited patiently since HMD 04, when he’d heard about the event too late, to bring along his cache of films made by a film industry insider which showed Reg Varney of “On The Buses” fame as well as other 1970s celebs.

A distinct trend visible is that already these movies are moving in to third party hands, with the inevitable loss of context that goes with that. Three of our thirteen contributors were people who had taken pity on the films in junk shops or flea markets without even having the means to show them but had at least started the preservation process by giving them a home and willingly sharing them with others.

As in 2004, Tom Adams of the Imperial War Museum did a fantastic job of projecting the 8mm material and we also gained a great volunteer in the person of Janine Lai who had seen our poster when she put it up in Peckham Library in her day job as librarian.

This is a response from Captain Zip one of our contributors who also includes many descriptions of what he saw:

Hello there.
Just a quick note to thank you for such an incredibly splendid Home Movie Day – which I enjoyed enormously. What a pity it is only once a year. There was such a nice balance of the family and holiday and arty and more ambitious (to varying degrees) films. I had very good feedback from people regarding the two films of mine which were shown (it was so good to see them in a different venue). It would be interesting to know how well my Windsor newsreel copied in the camera that was pointed at it for so long. I enjoyed all the other films on show too.

It was just a pity that I didn’t get to see many of the 16mm films, but I must admit to staying in “screen two” because I didn’t want to miss any of my own films. Charles Laughton was right. All is vanity.

The film about a fly in the beer was very enjoyable. The picture quality had survived so well. It looked like it had been shot yesterday rather than in the early 1950s.

I was amazed by the picture quality of your garden party film (which seemed very well edited-in-camera), especially as you didn’t seem to have much depth of field to play with in what I presume were tight telephoto shots.

The standard 8mm films seemed to run a bit slow in places, so I felt like I had really been to Tunisia for the Miss Cinema 1972 and 1973 film. I tend to run slow in the heat too.

I quite liked the arty films, especially Laura’s water damage film and the shots of distorted reflections of London traffic and split-screen effect achieved by holding a hand-mirror in front of the lens. I must give that a try myself.

I keep meaning to make another in my series of London films, which I started in the 1960s, but can’t quite get motivated to spend the money on film stock when both my fridge and roof need mending.

Even the family footage was a joy. It felt very special to share someone’s Christmas from the ’60s.

I liked the film about whipping (or was it caning?) by the lady from New Jersey. Interestingly, I once made a film with the same plot called Kidnap Lark. I remember she was particularly impressed by my production standards, though I found my Dick Dawkins film a bit embarrassing as the style of humour had dated so much. I was hoping no one would object to what had become politically incorrect jokes. They just seemed funny at the time. But it was good to get laughs from the audience.

I’m still trying to work out the Brixton-Kenya connection in the wedding film. Maybe it was simply that they had their honeymoon there. I didn’t think of anything so simple on the day.
I loved the museum itself too. What a joy to see one of Hepworth’s soundtrack

I knew it would be a good day when I found a 2 coin on the tube on the way there.

It was good to touch base with Dave Wyatt again after so long, he being a chum from the days when I could afford to collect film.

We couldn’t figure out if the 15 inch Pathe disc was a soundtrack disc or not. He thought it wasn’t because it runs at 90rpm, but I pointed out that films would only be two minutes long in those days so it might have been.

Anyway, thanks again for a very pleasing day and I look forward to the
next one.

Press tally:

Feature in The Guardian Guide (national newspaper listings mag)

Feature in Time Out (London Listings mag)

2 interviews on BBC London radio

Interview on Resonance FM available asPodcast here.

Online publicity:

Archives Hub
Museums, Libraries, and Archives London
University of Teesside
Guardian Film
Film and Digital Media Exchange
Chain D. L. K.

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HMD Report: New York City

Andrew Lampert, on location in the Big Apple:

HMD NYC was, as usual, a blast. Anthology Film Archives played host for a 4-½ hour marathon screening of films from friends, family and strangers in the 70-seat Maya Deren Theater. Katie Trainor helmed an amazing group of volunteer Archivists and aficionados in the Anthology lobby. Orphan-maker and recent New Yorker Dan Streible was with us as well, which was a particularly a special treat. Dan gave insightful on-the-spot readings of films all day long and was one of the best film-runners we’ve ever had. I would guess that we had maybe 70-80 attendees throughout the afternoon. All prospective audience members and film-bringers were met with smiles, release forms and gloved hands. Films were inspected, repaired, leader-ed and loved. Info was made available about all things home movie, from Kodak give-aways to HMD DVD order forms. We had a fantastic turn out and most of the audience indeed brought a reel or two for screening. There were fewer voyeurs than usual this year, for some reason. More film is always groovy, if you ask us. Another anomaly from previous HMDs was the amount of 16mm that came our way. If memory serves, there have only ever been a few reels in previous years, but this time around we saw at least 10 reels of it. It was, as always, an afternoon of revelations. Super 8 and 8mm projection were projected in the theater by me, Andrew Lampert, and 16mm was handled from our booth.


One woman, known only as “ET”, arrived with a reel purchased from Ebay that outlined, in fastidious detail, what to do with a deer after you’ve slaughtered it. While not a pretty site for animal lovers, it was a fascinating and colorful look at the hunter’s ritual. If you’ve ever seen Franju’s BLOOD OF THE BEAST or Brakhage’s THE ACT OF SEEING WITH ONE’S OWN EYES then you get what I’m talking about.

Another gentleman dazzled and delighted with a couple reels from his recent trip to Cuba. Evidently he shot more than 40 reels of Kodachrome throughout the island. He wanted to capture the splendor and color of that time capsule country with everyone’s favorite discontinued stock, or so he put it. His wife also brought a recently shot reel, so it seems as if this is a family affair. Hope to see more from them next year.

Bradley Eros treated us to a look back at his mid-80s trip to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. He played a soundtrack from the booth and projected slides from the trip over on top of the Super 8 images, creating an on-the-spot expanded cinema home movie experience. It was pretty rad.

A visitor on vacation from Chicago arrived with a reel he found of a group of gay men also on vacation, albeit in been the early-to-mid 60s and at a spot a little more exotic than Anthology. Colorful and laugh-out-loud funny, the guys pranced around in short shorts and, well, no shorts. We all dug it very much.

Steve Carter, another regular attendee, brought a 10-year old reel documenting the fence that his brother built over in NJ to annoy his neighbors. While not a great cinematic masterwork, the story behind this film had us all in stitches. Steve is the guy who started a huge fight a couple years back and we always love his witty insights and opinions. And films!

Tim, a friend of HMD regular Jeanne Liotta, brought a wonderful S8 film of his honeymoon. But rather than mere camera reels, this movie was hand-painted, hand-processed and a real treasure to behold. It was unlike everything else that we saw that day, straddling the line between experimental and home movie. It was a definite highlight.

I dug into Anthology’s copious home movie collection to show a reel by photographer and downtown denizen Bob Parent of the Lower East Side circa 64. Legendary jazz club The Five Spot was only one of the many long-gone venues seen in the gorgeously photographed reel of the East Village. His films remind me of Aaron Siskind photographs, especially in the way he documents posters and writings on the wall. The reel ends with a trip to Washington Square Park where we see the booming folkie scene and nylon-stringed acoustic guitars that used to gather around the fountain.

But perhaps the most revelatory reel was brought by Ms.Liotta. Discovered along with a projector donated by a departing neighbor, this 16mm reel captures the preparations for an early 60s wedding in sumptuous b&w. Our astute audience ascertained that this was indeed the wedding of blushing bride Ramona and boxer Jose Torres. This was determined from a boxing poster in the background of a particular shot. The movie begins with footage of Central Park and then moves inside to the bride and her maidens as they prepare for the ceremony. The shots inside of the church are a little underexposed, but the party footage is dynamite. Overall, I’d have to say that it is one of the best reels that we’ve seen over the years. Evidently a professional Time Life photographer shot it, as we later found out. A long and strange series of events occurred after the screening thanks to Craig Lopez, a member of our dedicated audience. He went home, googled around and discovered that the Torres family live in NYC. He was able to get their number and made contact. Turns out that HMD was the 45th anniversary and that somehow we had all missed this fact when the wedding invite was shown on screen. They were thrilled to find that this film, which had been lost, turned up in time for their big anniversary party in Puerto Rico. Within days Jeanne graciously let us send the reel to Colorlab where Russ Suniewick generously oversaw the transfer to DVD. A gentleman who writes for the New Yorker has taken an interest and we will hopefully soon see an article in the Talk of The Town section. We’ll let you know as the story further progresses.

There were tons more, so maybe I’ll stop here. Speaking on behalf of Katie and all of our other co-presenters, I have to say that NYC HMD was once again a highlight of our cinematic summer.

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HMD Report: Japan (Hirosaki, Kyoto, Nagano, Nagoya, Tokyo)

This year there were five separate Home Movie Events in Japan. Thanks to Kae Ishihara and the Film Preservation Society. Highlights from the venues follow:

Chihiro Takmori reports from Hirosaki:

The venue was a former cafe, so just for HMD the kitchen was used, and we had summer vegetable curry, etc. together.

The atmosphere was very good and although we were all meeting for the first time, we could talk about films together. A lot of episodes, questions, etc.

Some films were discovered at the University of Hirosake and brought in by the University’s Cinema Club.

Kyoto, report by Kazunori Emura:

There was a double 8 film shot in 1937 (no. 7 below) which was in beautiful color, so it was chosen as Best Home Movie this year. Also, there was a b/w film about “Ueno Zoo” which is 3 minutes walk from the Film Preservation Society’s office in Tokyo.

Films screened:

1.Emura Family’s Home Movie, double8, 3mins, 1950s

2.Skiing, double8, 3mins, 1942

3.Dolls Play, double8, 3mins, late 1940s

4.Airplane, double8, 3mins, late 1940s

5.GHQ soldiers, their families in the base in Gunma, shot by Bill H. Issacs (Military gov’t team), double8, 3mins, 1948

6.Tokyo Tower, Expo, Twins, single 8, 10mins, color & b/w

7.Picnic to Mt. Akagi, double8, 3mins, 1937, color

8.Ueno Zoo, 3mins, 1940

Kenji Emori writes from Nagano:

Films screened:
1.Showa Era of Shimizu Family 18min 1955

2.Sports Festival at Junior High School of Shinshu University 4min 1969

3.Festival in Nagano 16min 1956

4.Sports festival of Chuo Kindergarten 4min 1970

5.Election campaign from the sky 8min 1965

6.Visiting Zenkoji Temple 4min 1965

7.Nagano Expo for Culture and Industry 11min 1961

8.Zenkoji Temple, Open for public viewing 30 min 1987

9.My Family 10min 1960

10.Showa Era of Shimizu Family Part 2 20min 1950

This year’s HMD was a related event of Misuzukaru Shinano NAGANO Film Festival. The local 8mm film club helped us with all the projection work.

Nagoya’s report comes from Satoe Tamura:

Special events/screenings:

-flowing somen noodles in the garden

(Japanese seasonal tradition – cold noodles washed down a half-pipe of bamboo, and scooped out with chopsticks by whoever can catch them on the way past. They’re eaten with a dip and assorted garnishes)

-fresh vegetables, HMD original pottery with cold beer and other drinks were sold and pickles and ice cold Japanese tea were served

-16mm animation film show

-a short talk from the administrator about the preservation of the old house, Shumoku-kan, as a cultural heritage

Films screened:

1.Showa 73 1998

2.A Small Fighting Sprit 1984

3.Skiing in Nozawa Hot Springs

4.Moonlight and the Glasses (16mm)

5.Nagoya Toyopet Sports Festival 1973

6.Soyogo 2005

7.America San Francisco 1969

8.Asuka Road 1974

Best home movie went to No. 5 where you can see how Japanese people used to be very loyal to the company (in this case, Toyota motors whose headquarters are in Nagoya) and serious about an event like this, which reminded the audience about something we have lost unwittingly

Also, No. 2 was a film shot by elementary school students. The teacher used to organize 8mm film club, and he kept the film for more than 20 years. There’s a scene showing a famous professional wrestler “Antonio Inoki”, so, probably no good for a HMD Japan 2006 DVD, but will be shown at Best Home Movies Screenings in October in Tokyo.

Tokyo, by Kenichi Shima:

Most films we showed were double 8, black and white films.

“Masao’s bicycle” was a double8 film shot in Tokyo after the war, but for some reason, it got the biggest audience reaction, as the sight was so different from modern Tokyo, almost like a different country. And more than that, Masao looks so cute with the happiness of finally riding his own bike. Everybody wrote this down as their favorite in the questionnaires, no doubt about choosing this one as Best Home Movie this year. Another Masao related film was not shown on the day, but two films will be added to HMD Japan 2006 DVD, and also Best Home Movies screenings in October.

The wooden church is a very small building but if we reorganize the tables and chairs it’ll hold more than 50 people next year again. This year we borrowed projectors from FPS’ office but one of the film owners is going to donate a projector to me, so I’ll practice with it for next year.

Actually, I learned about film projection from FPS’ film projection workshop for the first time, and did all the projection work alone this year.

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September 5, 2006


HMD New Orleans in the LA Daily News

Judy O’Rourke, in the Santa Clarita edition of the LA Daily News, describes the New Orleans Home Movie Day with her September 2nd article Big Easy Caught on Celluloid.

“The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina placed the historical record of New Orleans at great risk,” said Brian Graney, one of the five decision makers and a film library technician for the UCLA Film and Television Archive, in Los Angeles. Its massive collections are due to be moved to Santa Clarita in a couple of years. “We contacted people and they were uniformly enthusiastic.”

Under normal circumstances, watching flicks at Home Movie Day gingerly transports viewers to times past, where people and places change gradually over the years. In New Orleans, fragile celluloid images were sometimes the sole remnants of a world wiped out in one fell swoop.

Read the complete article here.

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September 9, 2006


HMD Report: Toronto

Local audiovisual archivists Brock Silversides, Russ McMillen, Aileen Leadbetter and Julie Lofthouse provided advice on how to care for home movies and discussed why home movies are important. Filmmakers Karen Shopsowitz, Laurence Green and Justin Lovell discussed their working with home movies in various contexts. Karen showed a new music video called “Pawpwalk” which she made for the Ron Davis Trio, and which features super8mm footage shot by (no surprise) her dad, in London in 1971. Justin Lovell, a filmmaker whose genesis in the world of film transfers began when he found himself needing reliable high quality transfers of his own films, played a demo showcasing the way his work with Super 8mm.

A last minute surprise of the day was that filmmaker Bruce McDonald (Highway 61, Hard Core Logo, Picture Claire) gave permission to screen home movies from his collection which he previously donated to the Film Reference Library.

Though attendance itself wasn”t as high as previous years, we were not lacking in quantity of film to show. In fact we actually ran out of time within which to screen the films that were brought in. I also found it amazing that we had as many 30 minute reels brought in that day as we did. Participants gladly talked about the films and provided context for them while they were screened. Though not everyone brought in their film that day, we had discussions with some of the participants about their home movies. One of the day”s participants who unfortunately did not bring in film with him, came out to the event solely to gather information and ask questions. He said that he had many films at home taken by his father, who had been a local radio broadcaster in Western Canada. The films were of their various annual family trips across Canada and spanned many years, but also included some film his father shot that were work related.

The first home movie of the day shown was from a man who contacted us the week before the event who had recently brought back a reel of film he found in his parents’ home in Hong Kong. Though now living in Toronto now, the gentleman recently brought back with him after visiting his parents overseas. It is a film that his father took both in Hong Kong and business trips to the US in the 1960s. Sadly his father is in the early stages of Alzheimer”s so the gentleman is working on getting the film transferred so that he can show it to his father while his father is still able to communicate and enjoy it. The Toronto Film and Video Club participated in our event again, bringing some of their home movies with them as well as a few other treats.

A local artist/film-maker who has recently begun shooting with Super8 film brought his films for show. We also received a “home movie” recently shot by a young Toronto film-maker, of her trip to Hong Kong last year. An interesting note about this footage is that this woman”s mother participated in our first Home Movie Day in 2003, having sent in wonderful home movie footage of Hong Kong from the 1950s. Someone else brought in several reels of summers spent up north at a Boy Scout Camp in the 1960s. This was beautiful footage that captured the antics of this young troop. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to screen the full length of the final film shown that day. The film was of a Classic Car Club of America in 1963. The gentleman who brought in the film said that the end of the film contained footage that was shot in Washington DC in the summer of 1963. Though the majority of films brought in and screened were of “Canadian” origin, it was great to see so much stuff coming in that included places in the United States as well as around the world.

Canadian location highlights included various cottage trips, Expo “67 & Centennial Parade, Hells Gate, British Columbia, Kingston Ontario, Superior Ontario (entitled “Bear Valley”)…just to name a few. At the end of the day we loaded up the audience with a bunch of prizes. Prizes included a membership to the Film Reference Library, 2 tickets to the 2006 Preservation Screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, a membership for two to Cinematheque Ontario, a group animation workshop at the National Film Board Mediatheque, some STILDesign cans, the Super8 cartridge given out by Kodak during their Super8 session at the Austin Conference, Home Movie Day mugs, and a $100 towards a film transfer from Photoplays.

We also ran a contest where the audience voted for the “Best Home Movie of the Day.” Winner to receive film transfer services supplied by Justin Lovell of Frame Discreet and much more.

Can’t wait to do it all again next year. We have so many good ideas brewing!!!!


September 20, 2006


HMD Report: Culpeper, Virginia

Lynanne Schweighofer and Liz Stanley report on the goings on at Home Movie Day Culpeper:

Culpeper’s first ever Home Movie Day was a great success!

51 people showed up for our afternoon inspection period carrying a total of 372 reels of film, 3 projectors, and one Cine Kodak Model B camera! Needless to say we did not get to examine every reel of film but we were able to inspect and advise on a representative sample from each guest. We were quite surprised that about 75% of what we saw was 16mm (much of it Kodachrome), followed by 8mm. Super 8 was the least represented format. The only reel of 35mm turned out to be a pristine roll of Nitrate film! Talks are in the works to find the nitrate a good home.

Only one guest had film that appeared beyond all salvage- extreme warping, shrinkage, and chrystalized emulsion. The vinegar could be smelled from the door. We were quite sad as it was Civilian Conservation Core footage shot in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont areas of Virginia. The father of the man who now has this footage was a CCC camp director and shot over 200 reels of 16mm. If any of this footage could be salvaged it would be beyond the means of our guest. I am not sure any archive would take on the burden knowing up front of the expense involved in trying to retrieve the images. If anyone has ideas, please contact me!

Our evening screening was a smaller event with 18 participants, not including event staff. Many who came to the inspection period had driven over an hour to get to us and felt they didn’t want to stay until after dark. Those who stayed had much fun. Folks felt comfortable describing the films and we were treated to such images as a bear “attacking” the filmmaker’s car (shot from inside the car!), a comical parade of 1940’s easter fashions, and toddlers in Wisconsin drinking home brewed beer from glass bottles!

We can’t wait to do this again. Special thanks go to the volunteers: Lillie Lee, John Snelson, Laura Maddox, and Peter Schweighofer.

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