2013 Symposium

14th Annual Northeast Historic Film Summer Symposium

Wunderkino 3

Visions of Travel and Mobility

Thursday, July 25 through Saturday, July 27, 2013

(“Arizona Airstream” courtesy of Mark Neumann)


Wunderkino (“wonder-cinema”) are moving images that ignite our curiosity and engagement and help us to rethink questions of creativity, complexity, rarity and the multiple uses and understandings of amateur and non-commercial films.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the rise of amateur film coincided with a proliferation of mass tourism, travel and mobility. On their journeys away from home, amateur filmmakers recorded the transformative forces of modern travel—theme parks, motels, resorts, tourist attractions, transportation technologies, highways—and the people and cultures that collide along the way. The organizers of 2013 Northeast Historic Film (NHF) Summer Symposium invite proposals featuring studies of amateur and non-theatrical films that examine travel and mobility. “Wunderkino 3: Visions of Travel and Mobility” focuses on understanding how amateur and non-theatrical films offer insight into modern mobility and culture, the production and performance of heritage and history, and the transformation of regions, communities, and people as they become the sites and sights of the amateur films, travelogues, and educational films. This year’s theme is an effort to draw upon the wide range of approaches that scholars, artists, filmmakers, and archivists bring to the study and use of amateur and non-theatrical film. We encourage (and expect) participants to incorporate examples of interesting moving images as part of their presentations. NHF houses a 125-seat cinema with 35mm, 16mm, videotape, and DVD projection.
The NHF Summer Symposium is a multi-disciplinary gathering devoted to the history, theory, and preservation of amateur and nontheatrical moving images. For over a decade, the Symposium has been bringing together archivists, scholars, and artists in an intimate setting for three days of viewing and discussing lesser-known, amateur, and found films. NHF is located in Bucksport, a town of 5,000 on the coast of Maine (for more info on NHF, please visit: Presenters typically have 30-45 minutes in which to deliver their paper and engage in discussion with their colleagues. The symposium is open to archivists, artists and scholars from all disciplines. Please be advised that NHF is a non-profit organization. Unfortunately, we do not have resources to fund travel and lodging for conference presenters and participants. All presenters and participants must register for the symposium.

The Tree in a Test Tube?: Forestry and Film in Mid-Century Maine

Oliver Gaycken, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

Oliver Gaycken is the 2012 recipient of Northeast Historic Film’s William O’Farrell Fellowship, which provides support for research at NHF. He will present his ongoing research on forestry films.

Stan Midgley: Thousands of feet and thousands of miles

Trisha Lendo, UCLA Film and Television Archive, Los Angeles, CA

Over his career, Stan Midgley shot footage in such places as Yosemite, Arizona, the Canadian Rockies, Yellowstone, and Hawaii and made over 4,000 appearances with his adventures. He embraced regionalism wherever he was and shared local pronunciations and customs with his viewers. Because of his use of sight gags, Stan Midgley referred to his films as “chucklelogues.” His love of the American places he captured, along with his humor, earned him the moniker “Mark Twain with a camera.”

The Armchair Traveller: The Travelogues of Charles Joseph Chislett

Sue Howard, Yorkshire Film Archive/Northeast Film Archive, UK

Charles Chislett was a Bank Manager and Chair of the Photographic Society in a South Yorkshire industrial city. A mix of social standing, financial ability, and a strong ethos to serve the community manifested in his Travelogues. He filmed, recorded, scripted, edited, and then exhibited his films to thousands, with the intention of ‘transporting the armchair traveller to areas of the globe to which they would likely never travel themselves’, and in the course of doing so, raising significant proceeds forlocal charities.

Burton Holmes Travel Films

Ilona Auth, Selznick School of Film Preservation, Rochester, NY

As the originator of the travelogue format, Holmes presented images of exotic cultures and remote locations to huge audiences at a time when international travel was far more inaccessible than it is today. Holmes’s moving images provide a strong base for discussion on the development of the travelogue format, the importance and desirability of cultural and geographic education, and the powerful effect that film can have in building a sense of global community.

Shooting the Sportsmen’s Paradise: The Role of Early Motion Pictures in the New Brunswick Travel and Tourism Industry

Scott Preston, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB

This presentation examines the introduction of film to the sport hunting, travel and tourism industry in New Brunswick at the turn of the 20th century. My paper begins by tracing the history and the context of Bitzer’s A Moose Hunt in New Brunswick—it was produced as part of a series of sportsman’s films to be shown at the New England Forest, Fish and Game Show in Boston in December 1905—and then considers its place within a larger discourse of travel, tourism, wildlife and nature as it pertains to New Brunswick’s self-image and the image of itself promoted to potential tourists in the early 20th century.

A Sporting Life — on Film: Hunting and Fishing in New England Shown at Boston’s Sportsmen’s Show in 1905

Paul Spehr, Fairfield, PA

In the fall of 1905 the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company’s films of hunting and fishing in Maine, New Brunswick and elsewhere were a hit at Boston’s Sportsmen’s Show. Although G.W. “Billy” Bitzer is best known as Griffith’s cameraman, these films show that there was an enthusiastic New England audience that valued films that recorded sports and other aspects of life as people lived it in the world that audiences were familiar with.

Liz Coffey, Travel Film Maker

Liz Coffey, Media Preservation Services, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Liz Coffey shot her first rolls of travel film during a cross country road trip in the late twentieth century.   Between 1997 and 2012 she shot Super 8 in The Netherlands, Austria, France, Spain, England, Ireland, Italy, and the USA.  Although she studied film and has worked in various aspects of the field, she is not a classically-trained filmmaker and considers her works amateur.

This is an exciting an unusual opportunity to actually talk to and interrogate a living amateur travel-film-maker.  Several of Ms Coffey’s films will be screened on Super 8 with a live narration, and there will be ample opportunity for questions, so come prepared!

Travel During Wartime:  Harry Randall and the Abraham Lincoln Brigades

Kimberly Tarr, New York University, NY

Presentation Description:  Although many travel for leisure, war often compels individuals to travel to new countries and confront new landscapes, people, and culture.  Harry Randall (1915-2012), a native Oregonian, joined the volunteer U.S. Abraham Lincoln Brigades in the fight against fascism during the Spanish Civil War.  A skilled photographer and projectionist, Randall served as the Chief Photographer of the Photographic Unit of the 15th International Brigade from 1937-38. Randall’s work documents the life of the troops, as well as the quotidian in the Spanish countryside.  Although there were challenges to secure both film and equipment during the war, Randall and his company made the most of their limited supplies to capture the cultural landscape of Spain at war.

Engineering the Female Traveler: How to Pack a Suitcase and the Curious Case of the Shell Oil’s ‘Carol Lane’

Melissa Dollman, Schlesinger Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Devin Orgeron, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Having spent five years during WWII as an aviation researcher for Life magazine, Caroline Ackerman (a trained pilot) was hired to be the founding director of Shell Oil’s first public relations program for women. Between 1947 and 1950, Ackerman and the persona she co-created, “Carol Lane,” were one and the same. This presentation seeks to contextualize How to Pack a Suitcase, offering concrete historical research into Shell’s unusual, female-focused campaign and biographical information on Ackerman and the “Lanes” that followed her.

Travel and Mobility as Cultural Diplomacy: The USIA and Government Films Around the World

Brian Real, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

At the height of the Cold War, a major element of the United States Information Agency (USIA)’s activities was its production, collection, and dissemination of thousands of motion pictures to hundreds of film festivals and film clubs throughout the world. When these films are viewed in comparison to each other, trends and themes emerge that illustrate how concepts of travel and mobility were used to promote American public policy and ideals abroad, with certain production tropes demonstrating how government films informed each others’ style.

Hell Bound Train

Brian Graney, Black Film Center/Archive, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

In the late 1920s, Indianapolis-born Baptist James Gist, Jr. was inspired by a vision during a sermon to produce THE HELL-BOUND EXCURSION TRAIN.  Structured around a metaphor common to sermons and religious music of the time, Gist’s 16mm film featured a local cast enacting a catalogue of sins assigned to coach after coach of a train speeding toward Hell, gleefully conducted by Satan.



The Curious Case of the Hidden Images from Luxembourg’s National Home Movie Archive: A Travelogue

Françoise Poos, Independent Curator, Luxembourg

I will tackle questions of mobility and materiality of home movies by tracing the journey of Luxembourg’s Centre National de l’Audiovisuel (CNA) 2007 Hidden Images exhibit of home movie stills from private memories viewed in the family circle to aesthetic artifacts offered to the public gaze, and objects of scientific scrutiny via a public archive. I will discuss the lively social biography of one particular body of images as well as their varying uses and meanings at each of their life stages in order to engage a reflection about how to approach home movies beyond their primary visual appeal, and how to look at them as both images and material objects that exist in time and space.

Magic Mushroom Mountain Movie

John Klacsmann, Anthology Film Archives, New York City, NY

Philosopher Manuel DeLanda’s recently digitized Super 8mm film, MAGIC
MUSHROOM MOUNTAIN MOVIE was shot by DeLanda between 1973 and 1980 during his annual pilgrimages to the remote Mexican village of Huautla in Oaxaca. Essentially an avant-garde home movie, the film highlights a full embrace and respect for the psychedelic Mazateca rituals of rural Mexico without denying or exploiting it as the “hippie” culture of the 1960s often did.

Registration can be made online HERE.

Symposium Registration (Members) including Fri & Sat Breakfast and Lunch: $155. ♦ After Monday July 13, 2013: $190

Symposium Registration (Non-Members) including Fri & Sat Breakfast and Lunch: $200. ♦ After Monday July 13, 2013: $225

Symposium Registration (Students and Underemployed) including Fri & Sat Breakfast and Lunch: $90. ♦ After Monday July 13, 2013: $115


Local lodging options

Bucksport Motor Inn

Fort Knox Park Inn

Orland House Bed and Breakfast

Williams Pond Lodge


Driving distances to Bucksport

Bangor, ME: 19 miles

Portland, ME: 121 miles

Boston, MA: 227 miles

New York, NY: 441 miles

Montreal, Canada: 304 miles

Halifax, Canada: 432 miles

Toronto, Canada: 638 miles

For driving directions and links to airports and bus companies please visit our Contact Us page.