Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced his annual selection of 25 motion pictures to be added to the National Film Registry. Among the films added this year was OUR DAY, a 1938 amateur film about the day in the life of a Kentucky family.
After decades as a family heirloom, the film had its first public screening at New York City’s Home Movie Day in August 2007, where it caught the attention of the audience, due to its superb craftsmanship.
OUR DAY is described by the Library of Congress as “a smart, entertaining day-in-the-life portrait of the Kelly household, shown in both idealized and comic ways. This silent 16mm home movie uses creative editing, lighting and camera techniques comparable to what professionals were doing in Hollywood.” Dave Kehr of the New York Times writes that it “displays a more sophisticated sense” of filmmaking “than the great majority of current Hollywood features.”
The 12-minute film was shot in 1938 in Lebanon, Kentucky, by Wallace McElroy Kelly. It takes place almost entirely at the family home, known as Halcyon Hill, and it documents a modern home inhabited by adults enjoying their sophisticated interests, such as playing the piano, literature, and croquet, as well as simple ones like gardening, knitting, and cooking. Kelly, a photographer, writer, illustrator and painter, bought a 16mm camera in 1929 and made films of his family through the 1950s.
The film is in the process of being preserved by Colorlab, Inc., and a new 35mm print will premiere at the Orphan Film Symposium in March 2008.