HMD Report: Toronto
A recap from Toronto:
Event Venue: Hosted by the Film Reference Library (at Cinematheque Ontario)
Event time (screening): Day ran from 12:00pm-5:00pm with the screening running from 1:30 -4:30
Event time (inspection): 4 months prior (call for submissions went out on May 16 and ended July 20th.
Inspections were conducted on an ongoing basis throughout the call and continued post-event day due to the quantity of submissions received).
Number of people bringing films: 50
Total films submitted: 514
8mm: 336 Super 8: 150
VHS: 1 (no longer had original films)
8mm Video: 1
DVD: 3 Audio Tape: 1 (they thought it was a film)
Number of Staff and Volunteers involved in the day:
Organizer: Julie Lofthouse Film Reference Library staff: Julie Lofthouse, Sylvia Frank, Eve Goldin, Tania Reilly, Hubert Toh, Lindsay Miller, Kristen MacDonald, Robert Blair
TIFFG Staff: * Jim Hamilton, Kate McKay (projectionist), Arthur Yeung, Andrei Gravelle, Naoko Kumagai Volunteers (pre-event): Christina Stewart (inspections), Beth Rennie (organization and data entry) Volunteers (event day): Jing Jing Chang, Anna Louise Richardson, Brock Silversides (speaker), Christina Stewart (speaker), Bruce McDonald (guest host)
Sponsors: Toronto International Film Festival *07 (prizing); The Film Reference Library (prizing), Cinematheque Ontario (prizing); Starbucks Coffee (TIFFG sponsor supplied coffee), Aquafina (TIFFG sponsor supplied water), Photoplays (prizing – Grand Prize for film to video transfer); LIFT (donation of projectors for the day) Press & Marketing (pre-event and post-event): Print: Globe & Mail (newspaper), Toronto Star (newspaper); City Centre Mirror (newspaper), Now Magazine (arts newspaper); Movie Entertainment Magazine, Cinematheque Ontario guide/calendar; local Portuguese community newspaper, Now Magazine (free alternative weekly newspaper). * some press available in both print and on-line editions of publications. Radio: Jazz FM 91(read our official press release), CFRB 1010 Radio (interview), CIUT 89.5 (University of Toronto radio – interview), CBC Radio 99.1 (interview/story post event), Online: CBC Online, Akimbo, Film Reference Library, various city and library blogs Television: Breakfast Television. NB – both the Star and the Globe each ran 2 stories about HMD – one around the call and a follow-up piece JUST before the event.
HOME MOVIE DAY 2007 – TORONTO (Report submitted by: Julie Lofthouse) The Film Reference Library issued an official press release through the Toronto International Film Festival Group (of which the FRL is a division) in early May for film submissions for HMD for evaluation and possible inclusion in a 2-hour curated program (part of the 5-hour HMD event). Not knowing how successful the call would be, we did not initially limit submissions. Due to the success of the campaign and valiant efforts of all involved, we received over 500 reels of film and ended up increasing the screening program from 2 to 3 hours. Interestingly we received quite a few 400’ reels (apx 65). Reluctant to let length/RT be a programming limitation, submitters were asked for permission to separate footage at a pre-existing splice so at least some of a reel could be shown (all reels were re-assembled post HMD). Unfortunately and for the first time in 5 years, absent from Toronto*s Home Movie Day festivities was home movie advocate and filmmaker Karen Shopsowitz (she had other out of town scheduled activities). We were fortunate this year to have Canadian filmmaker Bruce McDonald as guest host of the curated screening program. For those of you who may not be familiar with Bruce’s work, he is the director of such films as Highway 61 (1991), Hard Core Logo (1996), The Tracey Fragments (2007) and also directed numerous TV episodes of “Queer as Folk” and “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
The day began with a quick history lesson about HMD, introduction to the issues of film preservation and was followed by a film archivists’ panel moderated by Julie Lofthouse (Archivist, the Film Reference Library), and consisting of Christina Stewart (Film Archivist), and Brock Silversides (Head, Media Commons U of T). This was followed by the introduction of Mr. McDonald and a brief Q&A and the screening of 2 of Mr. McDonald’s home movies (part of the Film Reference Library Special Collections) wile Mr. McDonald provided commentary. Post event, Mr. McDonald said that he was so inspired by the day that he would like to discuss with our library how he could be more involved in our HMD. A printed program was produced (if anyone wishes to see the program created, contact me and I will send it to you) and attendees with programmed films were asked to sit close to the front and aisles so that a wireless microphone could be brought to them to provide additional context while their film was playing. For anyone whose films were shown but who was unable to attend the event, context was provided on their behalf.
Home Movie Day Bingo was played during the first half of the program, and unlike last year, this year we actually had a winner. We screened 25 films over 3 hours and played HMD Bingo during the first half of the screenings (and had a winner). Obviously due to the volume of submissions, we were unable to show even half of what was submitted (it would be way too long a report), however, below is list containing highlights of some notable content – some programmed, some not (submission quantity, program length, film length, and condition). Oh….and when films are being returned to people we are providing them with a “report card” of sorts which gives them basic information about the format and condition of their film(s) as well as a rough idea of content (if they didn’t previously know what was on the film). This document also has a list on the reverse side of quick tips and advice on such things as storage, basic film preservation and much more. Also provided was a list of some reputable film to video transfer facilities in Toronto, the rest of Canada and the US as well as a list of places where they can purchase archival supplies and film supplies in both Canada and the US.
So…without further ado, here are some of the gems that found their way out of basements and attics in the Greater Toronto Area: Rector family home movies: The films were all 8mm and shot in various places including Halifax (NS), Cold Lake (AB), Zweibrücken Air Base (Can. Air Force Base in Germany), and various family trips. Films dated from the 1930s (B&W & colour), all the way to the 70s, and included a little boy (her dad) as a little boy in a Mountie uniform; Christmas mornings; a trip to NYC in 1959 (including shots of famous magician Harry Blackstone Sr. (doing some card tricks) and much, much more. Hollandse Kinderfilms: We were only able to screen a portion of the films brought in by this woman (3 x 400’ 8mm). Taken by her Dutch family in the Netherlands (mostly Scheveningen) it contained images from the Netherlands and other European destinations (pre & post WWII). Mostly B&W footage, there was actually colour footage of Nazi flags flying in Germany in 1938/39. Apparently the couple travelling with the family on this trip were Jewish and were wired by this family while on a later trip to Indonesia NOT to return to the Netherlands (post Nazi-Invasion), which saved this family from the war. Other footage submitted but not shown were friends and families at dinners and birthday parties (some survived the war, others didn’t and died in camps); Facilitated Communications (Helen Keller-style) with a blind-deaf child; trips to pre-war Paris and Switzerland and even a pre-war cruise to Madeira via Holland America.
OLGA CN Tower #1: Olga was the skycrane helicopter used to complete construction of the CN Tower (lifted the communications antenna/equipment) in Toronto in 1976.
Toronto from the 1960s through the 80s: This submitter familiarized herself with her new home of Toronto by taking her camera all over town filming the city and events. The film shown was ‘Christmas by Night – Christmas 1963’ and has beautifully composed shots of neon signs and lights all over Toronto, which were reminiscent Hollywood style montages of NYC’s Broadway. Other films submitted but not shown the opening of Yorkdale (Toronto’s first major shopping mall which at the time of opening was the world’s largest enclosed mall in the world), a trip on the Concord in 1983; opening of Toronto’s International Airport 1st Terminal 1 in 1964 (has since been demolished); and a Northern Ontario in Moosenee in 1964.
Ugandan films: None of these films had been seen by this submitter since he fled Uganda in 1972 when Idi Amin took power and forced all Ugandan citizens of Indian and Asian decent to leave. He still had the camera but had to leave the projector back in Uganda. The film shown was his wedding film, and apparently, one of the only 3 things that his wife took with her when they fled was the wedding dress worn that day.
Other films submitted but not shown were of tanks and other scenes in downtown Kampala (post Idi Amin’s take over but before the expulsion); Ugandan and Goan (India) homesteads and family; Pope JP II Papal visit to Boston (1979); various aspects of the family’s life in Toronto. Interesting narrative films: Though we were unable to this gentleman’s films due to length and condition (many had shedding mag stripe), this gentleman shot many films and even recreated some James Bond style movies (often post release of a new Bond film), starring himself. Various famous events and people: Submitted by a retired professional photographer from the Toronto Star (newspaper), this gentleman often took his movie camera on assignment for use when not on officially business. Events/images captured contained former Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliot Trudeau and his wife Margaret on an official trip to former Soviet Union in 1971 and footage from the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Shown on HMD was the opening of the 1967 Pan-Am games in Winnipeg, MB (images of Prince Phillip and PM Lester B. Pearson in attendance); the funeral of Can. Gov. Gen. Georges Vanier (1967); aerial shots of Toronto taken from the CHUM (Toronto radio station) traffic helicopter – upon the opening of the heliports on the Toronto Island in 1965; and All Star Hockey footage from the former Czechoslovakia in 1966.
Hansen Boon Riverview- Sturgeon Falls: This B&W 16mm film was shot in northern Ontario (NW of Thunder Bay) in 1948. The submitter’s father took a position post-war as a bookkeeper at a lumber mill and this film contains images of old steam trains, the mill, horses lugging trees by sleigh and various people and places in the area.
Wilderness Holiday ‘61/ Family Rosh Hashanah 1961: This film won the audience vote for ‘Best Home Movie of the Day’ for the grand prize of a film to video transfer donated by Photoplays. Shot in South Africa in 1961 it contains landscapes and scenery of the ‘Wilderness’ (national park area SE of Capetown); family riding ostriches (and falling off of ostriches) and much more. Amazingly this film was one of the only things that survived a house fire 2 years ago in which the family lost everything else. This reel was recovered in the basement by one of the firefighters. Having never seen the film, the submitter said he hoped to see images of his father, (who died when the gentleman was 21). Almost immediately post saying this during his commentary, his father appear on the screen, choking-up both the gentleman and thus the rest of the audience.
Die Thomander: Submitted on DVD, this DVD contained home movies shot by local filmmaker Fritz Spiess during his youth (in Germany) as part of a boy’s choir. Mr. Spiess was a big part of the filmmaking community of Toronto and one of the founding members of the Canadian Society of Cinematographers. This film was put together using home movies he shot as a young choir boy, which were professionally transferred a few years ago (no longer projectable). Though not shown on our HMD, it is definitely worth mentioning due to the significance of the filmmaker in the Toronto community. Conn Smythe footage: For any of you who are hockey fans, this gentleman was the man who was the builder of Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs) and the principle owner of the team from 1927 to 1961. The woman who submitted this footage was the family nurse who travelled with Mr. Smythe throughout the years. This woman also submitted footage from other travels with other patients (not shown on HMD) with whom she travelled to various places around the world.
Interesting submission to possibly keep an eye on: One submission not programmed was a commercial film (1-minute trailer) by a local filmmaker who purchased an estate of home movies on eBay, transferred the films to video (donating the originals to an archive in California) and who has created a Feature to which apparently Gilbert Gottfried has been signed to do the voice-over (and for which the filmmaker was looking to get distribution). Apparently he has worked with family in obtaining the prerequisite clearances to use their home movies in his film. Though we were unable to show the film for our HMD, the trailer submitted was intriguing (also viewable at pubiclicemovie.com (title not necessarily related to film content or context).