2007 Symposium

Time Out: Images of Play and Leisure

July 20-21, 2007

Recognizing that play and recreation are integral facets of modern life, the theme of the Eighth Annual Summer Film Symposium is Time Out: Images of Play and Leisure. Since the late 19th century Maine has been known as a tourist destination for the original “rusticators,” to tastemakers who turned Acadia into a playground for the rich and famous, to working class families seeking a week of quiet camping and fun. As Maine’s traditional economic bases in timber and fishing have declined, the state has been transformed into “Vacationland,” and tourism is now recognized as Maine’s largest employer. Other regions around the nation and throughout the world have witnessed similar changes, changes that speak to the increasing importance of play and leisure to individuals in the industrial and post-industrial era. The symposium will focus on moving images that offer a new historical, cultural, and critical understanding of play and leisure. By examining moving images of play and leisure made by amateurs and for noncommercial purposes the aim of this symposium is to consider the details, diversity and perspectives on play and leisure time.

“A Night at the Moving Pictures – Before Cinema”
Peter Morelli

The moving panorama, the magic lantern, the diorama and many other visual entertainments for theaters and parlors, like cinema today, were among the most popular nineteenth century leisure activities, well before the invention of images projected from film. This presentation will explore these early visual entertainments and their influence on the development of cinema.

Peter Morelli, of Portland, Maine, is Director of Development and Planning for the City of Saco, Maine. He is a trustee of the Saco Museum, where he has led efforts to interpret and conserve the Moving Panorama of Pilgrim’s Progress, about which he has spoken widely. He earned a masters degree in public policy, as well as a certificate in museum studies at Tufts University.

“Disneyland Dream: One Family’s 1956 Fun-Filled Travel Adventure”
Snowden Becker for Robbins Barstow

In 1956, the five-member Barstow family of Wethersfield, Connecticut, won a free trip to newly opened Disneyland, in California, in a nationwide contest. This 35-minute amateur documentary chronicles their fun-filled family travel adventure.

Robbins Barstow is an 87-year-old retired educator living with his wife of 64 years, Meg, in
Wethersfield, Connecticut. He has been an amateur filmmaker for 75 years, and recently donated to the Library of Congress his 7-decade set of “20th Century Family Home Movies.”

Snowden Becker is an IMLS and Harrington Foundation PhD Fellow at the University of Texas,
Austin’s School of Information. Before coming to Texas, Snowden worked with collections of home movies at the Japanese American National Museum, the University of Southern California, the Academy Film Archive, and other institutions.

“From Station Wagon to Mini-Van: Cultural Changes in Class and Leisure”
Kaitlan Colladay

With accompanying archival footage from the 1960s, this presentation will explore the evolution of class and leisure from the 1960s to the present. How does a family of four vacation today and how did they vacation forty years ago? Is play an important aspect of our culture? Cultural changes resulting from a steady decline in income and its impact on the average middle class American family will be examined.

Kaitlan Colladay is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, B.A., Film Production (2003). Kaitlan is currently a student at Dartmouth College pursuing a graduate degree with an emphasis in Cultural Studies through Creative Writing and the Visual Arts. Her four children range in age from 33 to 11 years old.

“Fictional Vacations — the John Sturcke Home Movies (1939 – 1953)”
Albert Steg

An orphaned collection of New Jersey home movies challenges the distinction between quotidian home movies and amateur fictional narratives. Through devices such as intertitles, collage editing, and multiple framing devices, John Sturcke transforms his family’s 1939 vacation in Atlantic City into “One Sunday in Atlantic City, 1939” — a film that illustrates the mythologizing impulse in home movie making.

Albert Steg is a film collector and archivist living in Cambridge, MA. He holds Masters degrees in Philosophy (Edinburgh University) and English (Boston University). In 2004 he left his position as head of the English Department at the Winsor School in Boston to pursue a career in moving image archiving. After completing the Selznick School program at George Eastman House in 2005, he worked at the Baseball Hall of Fame, in their Research Library. His primary film interests are in small-gauge and ephemeral materials, reflected in his work on the Kodascope Collection at GEH and on his own collection of itinerant, educational, and erotic/stag films, as well as home movies. An avid Filemaker Pro designer, he maintains the database of screenings for the Giornate del Cinema Muto at Pordenone and is currently working on a catalog for the Center for Home Movies.

“‘Playing With The Camera:’ Looks Awares and Unawares in Local Film and Home Movies”
Martin Johnson

In the first few decades of amateur film production, making films and appearing in them was itself seen as an activity of leisure. But this pleasure was not always enjoyed by all parties involved. Amateur films are replete with images of people turning away from the camera, and advertisements for local films made in this period boast than many in them were “captured unawares.” What is it about being in the movies that is “fun,” and how might an idea of “playing” with the camera help us understand how people reacted when they were “caught” by its gaze?

Martin L. Johnson is a doctoral student in Cinema Studies at New York University. His dissertation research is on local film production and exhibition in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He has published on H. Lee Waters, a local filmmaker from North Carolina that was the subject of his master’s thesis at the University of North Carolina.

“Images of Leisure and Recreation in the Henry Sturgis Dennison Collection at Northeast Historic Film”
William O’Farrell

The amateur films of industrialist Henry Sturgis Dennison (1877-1952) illustrate family, friends and employees at their home, Juniper Hill, in Framingham, MA and at the family lodge “Dobsis” located on Sysladobsis Lake in Maine. Outfitters and wilderness guides are shown assisting fishing, canoeing and horse trekking vacations. Other significant highlights will be featured from this recently acquired NHF collection.

William O’Farrell was Chief of Moving Image and Sound Conservation at National Archives of Canada and served several terms on the AMIA Board of Directors. He is a volunteer and advisor with Northeast Historic Film and the Chicago Film Archives. Anthology Film Archives 1997 Film Preservation Honoree He has been a moving image archivist since 1975.

“70s Ethnographic Film: Playing Adult or Playing the Adult”
Liz Coffey & Brittany Gravely

In addition to producing several full-length cinema verite documentaries in the 1970s, ethnographic filmmakers John Marshall and Timothy Asch each filmed short studies of small, complicated events; Marshall devoted his life and most of his filmmaking to the !Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari and Asch (with Napoleon Chagnon) spent years with the Yanomamo of Venezuela. Here, the Yanomamo, !Kung, and children that Marshall filmed in Vermont for a BBC program are documented both imitating their adult role models and resisting their approaching adulthood through play.

Brittany Gravely is the distribution and administration manager at Documentary Educational Resources in Watertown, MA, an educational film & video distributor founded by John Marshall and Tim Asch in 1968. She is also an experimental 16mm filmmaker and artist who lives in Jamaica Plain.

Liz Coffey is the film conservator at the Harvard Film Archive. She has a special interest in amateur film, having worked for several years with regional collections at NHF and at the Rhode Island Historical Society. Co-author of and home movie day hostess, she shoots super 8 film and spends many evenings at the cinema.


Alan Kattelle (author, Home Movies: A History of the American Industry, 1897-1979 )“Out of the Fog”; Sean Savage (Northeast Historic Film), “Motormaulers” and more!

“Ruth Bryan Owen, William Jennings Bryan, and the Forging of Florida’s ‘Sun Screen”
Christina Lane

Ruth Bryan Owen was one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress (in the late 1920s), a minister to Denmark, and the daughter of the famous political figure William Jennings Bryan. In 1921, she made a South Florida film entitled Once Upon a Time, which no longer exists. This paper uses the figure of Ruth Bryan Owen, and the production history of the film, as lenses through which to better understand broader trends in local and regional culture in 1920s Florida, especially tourism, advertising, leisure, development, and Progressive-era reforms. It focuses particular attention on the influence of Orientalism as a central factor in the region’s construction of itself as an instant metropolis and an ideal site for self-reinvention.

Christina Lane is an Assistant Professor in the Motion Picture Program at The University of Miami. She is the author of Feminist Hollywood: From Born in Flames to Point Break (2000) as well as numerous journal and anthology articles, including a forthcoming essay on Flightplan in the book, Culture and Conflict (Cambridge Scholars Press).

“The Burton Holmes Collection”
Ishumael Zinyengere

Burton Holmes (1870-1958) was a prolific American filmmaker and lecturer of his time and in doing so coined the term “Travelogue.” This presentation is an assessment of the Burton Holmes Collection housed at the George Eastman House, showing the celebration of his life through travel and leisure in five continents around the world. My assessment will reflect the social, cultural, historical and aesthetic value portrayed in the films (16mm and 35mm), through the moving images of different cultures, ancient historical places, prominent persons, world wars and royal families. I will also give a perspective of how the content in the Burton Holmes collection relates to films housed at the National Archives of Zimbabwe.

Ishumael Zinyengere is an Audiovisual Archivist with the National Archives of Zimbabwe. He is currently studying for his Postgraduate Certificate in Film Preservation at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House, through a joint fellowship grant from AMIA (Association of Moving Image Archivists and RAC (Rockefeller Archive Center) and the Sony Scholarship Award. He is assessing and inventorying the Burton Holmes Collection at the George Eastman House.

“Excavating the Cinematic Canyon: 1911-1917”
Mark Neumann

This presentation explores three early films that depict different aspects of the public’s relationship to the Grand Canyon as a site of leisure, tourism, spectacle, and a backdrop for western fictions. In this “cinematic excavation” of the Grand Canyon, I examine Ellsworth and Emery Kolb’s Shooting the Rapids of the Colorado River (1911), an amateur film that became a place-bound tourist attraction at the canyon; and two early Hollywood productions—Thomas Ince’s The Bargain (1914) and Douglas Fairbanks’s A Modern Musketeer (1917) that featured the Grand Canyon as set for dramas about the west and early Southwest tourism. Taken together these films provide as a basis for discussing how amateur and commercial uses of cinema help us to understand the early formation of the Grand Canyon’s image in popular culture and public consciousness.

Mark Neumann is Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies and Director of the School of Communication at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. His research focuses on visual culture, documentary studies, and tourism. He is the author of On The Rim: Looking for the Grand Canyon (University of Minnesota Press), and has published essays on amateur film and cinematic culture in The Moving Image and various journals and edited volumes.

“Representations of Working Class Leisure in New England Underground Film”
Linden Dalecki with Todd Poudrier

Linden Dalecki will question New England’s most prolific indie film actor, Todd Poudrier, who has literally scores of principle roles to his credit. Attention will be paid to the notion of unpaid indie acting as a form of play on the one hand and as work on the other. A particular emphasis will be put on Todd’s indie film work set in Maine and The Exchange (22 minutes), shot in Rockport in 2001, will be screened as part of the presentation.

Linden Dalecki is a Ph.D. Candidate at The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of
Advertising. The focus of his dissertation is on the franchise filmmaking phenomenon. He pursues an interest in creative writing: his first novel, 
Kid B, was published by Houghton Mifflin in fall 2006 and he co-wrote the New England-set Dudleytown, shot earlier this summer and slated for release in fall 2007.

Todd Poudrier was born and raised in Boston and been working steadily in film and theater throughout New England for the past decade. In 2007 alone Todd worked on over a dozen projects playing a wide variety of roles. He considers himself a journeyman actor and has had principal work in roughly seventy five independent film projects, including several projects made via the The Workshops in Rockport, Maine.

“Forced Fun and a Stiff Upper Lip: Glimpses of the Western Maine Sanatorium and Tuberculosis Treatment in Maine, 1909-1960”
Erik Jorgensen

What was life in a Maine sanatorium like? Whom did these institutions serve? How closely did the Maine sanatorium story mirror the larger social history of tuberculosis in the 20th Century? This presentation explores life in the Maine State tuberculosis care system during the first part of the 20 th century, and expands upon selections from one of Northeast Historic Film’s more unusual collections, four reels of home movies made in the 1930’s documenting a Fourth of July celebration and a winter festival at the Western Maine Sanatorium in Hebron, ca.1930.

Erik Jorgensen is the executive director of the Maine Humanities Council, Maine’s state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Prior to this post, he served as five years the Council’s program officer and assistant director and nine years as director of the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick. He holds an AB from Bowdoin College and an MPA from Harvard University.

“Rhode Island on Film: Changing Views of Tourism in the Regional Travelogue”
Robert Goff and Patricia Raub

This presentation will examine a sample of films from the 1920s to 2006 that portray the state of Rhode Island in general and the city of Providence in particular as attractive destinations for visitors and business. We attempt to define some basic, generic characteristics of what we designate “the regional travelogue” by tracing changes in the themes and rhetorical strategies of these films over time.

Patricia Raub teaches in the American Studies department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. A resident of Providence, Rhode Island, she has taught courses on Travel and Tourism in the U.S. and on the history of Rhode Island. Robert Goff is also a resident of Providence, Rhode Island and teaches film courses at the University of Massachusetts- Boston and at Providence College.