Home Movie Day 2015

Submitted by beminner

Hello, Northeast Historic Film blog readers! I don’t think we have met yet, so to introduce myself, my name is Amber and I am the Archival Processing Technician at Northeast Historic Film. This means that I spend my time at NHF working with the rest of the archival staff to actively preserve the materials within our collections and to inspect the films that are brought to us to be transferred.

Today, I want to discuss Bucksport’s very own Home Movie Day that NHF hosted on October 10th. Home Movie Day is an event that is very close to my heart because to me it encapsulates everything about why regional archives, like NHF, and their advocacy for the preservation of home movies (and other amateur works) are so important. We at NHF strive to enrich the community we serve by not only offering a window into the past so that this community can learn about itself and its history; but also by pointing out how important it is to document one’s life and the activities of one’s community to create and maintain a cultural identity for the generations that come after us. Home movies, and in particular, Home Movie Days themselves are the perfect illustration of how moving images play a central role in this process of community building and identity building. Most people view screenings of home movies as kitschy, quirky, cute experiences filled with nostalgia and light-hearted, joyful musings about how much times have changed – clothing, hairstyles, home decors, cars, etc. – while at the same time, how much they have stayed the same – family celebrations, vacations, pets, the excitement of the ocean. Home Movie Day is filled with all of these fun moments. In fact, it is a day built around the celebration of these moments, but it is also so much more than that. It is a day that celebrates the community that produced these films and the people who have ensured these films’ survival. Here are some of my observations from Bucksport’s Home Movie Day and why I think this community deserves to be celebrated.

The day started off rather quietly with my colleagues and I setting up all of the equipment necessary to inspect and project all of the films that would be brought to us throughout the day. In setting up our “mobile archive”, we were making visible the hidden work of the archive, which is a central tenet not only of Home Movie Day itself, but also of Northeast Historic Film. We want everyone to know how we are working to preserve moving images and make them accessible as well as how everyone can participate in this work and help us preserve our audio-visual heritage. Home Movie Day is a day where we get to show and discuss with all of you how we care for film objects at NHF and how you can too in your daily lives. Many people spent time talking with us about how to store their films at home so that the films can continue to survive as long as possible as well about how we store our own collections and transfer films for easier accessibility, all of which emphasized to me how important it is to share this knowledge and share this collective need for preservation.

More importantly, Home Movie Day is a day where we get to enjoy the images this community has created. One participant brought in many 8mm and Super 8mm films her uncle shot during his trips around the world. Another brought in footage of her family celebrating birthdays and Christmases, taking a trip to Disneyland, playing around the house, and my personal favorite – their family dog watching an episode of Lassie. Amongst all of this material, we showed a few selections from Northeast Historic Film’s collections, including films shot by Adelaide Pearson, a Blue Hill resident, of scenes from her still-life drawing class and images of the Blue Hill Fair. All day during the screenings, the audience was able to not only watch these films, but also to hear stories about them. As the films played, the participants who brought the films to share with us were encouraged to speak about their families, the individuals who created the films, and the events that surrounded their creation. There was lots of laughter and lots of musings about childhood mixed with lots of recollections about family members and friends. This is our favorite part of Home Movie Day. Okay, this is my favorite part of Home Movie Day. I won’t speak for my colleagues, but based on the amount of time we all spent in the theatre watching the films you were so gracious to share with us and listening to your stories, maybe I can assume they like this part as much as I do.

We love hearing your stories and we love sharing these memories with you. How could we not? We have devoted our professional lives to preserving the objects that hold these images so that they will be available not only to you, but also to your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and on and on. These are the objects that inform us about what this community was and what it can become. These are the images that provide us with our roots and our cultural identity. They are also the objects that give us a framework for building a future community built upon respect for our past, but also filled with innovated ideas for our present and future selves. Most importantly, these films that you shared with us on Home Movie Day were saved by you. You stored them in your homes and ensured their survival. In doing so, you served as archivists of your own personal history and helped us at NHF in our mission of preserving the audio-visual heritage of this region, this community. Now that you have experienced the joys of Home Movie Day 2015, please don’t stop sharing your films and your stories with us. Home Movie Day isn’t just an annual event to us. We do this work everyday, so come by the archive whenever you like. We would be happy to show you around and tell you a little bit about what we do. We would be happy to transfer your films and videotapes or store them in our vaults. Come by the Alamo theatre a little early and watch our Archival Moments that feature films from our collection – your own little weekly mini-Home Movie Day event. Help us spread the word about how amazing this community is and look out for announcements about Home Movie Day 2016. We hope to see you there!