Jane Donnell, Distribution and Theater Manager
Northeast Historic Film co-hosted Maine Home Movie Day at the Maine Historical Society in Portland in 2010. We had about thirty visitors, eight of whom brought in 8mm, Super8 and 16mm films to be inspected and screened.
Maine Home Movie Day
October 15, 2011, at the Maine Historical Society in Portland. Bring your home movies to share on screen.
Home Movie Day
October 15, 2011, at the Queens Museum of Art, Queens, NY.
Home Movies of the 1939-1940 and 1964-1965 New York World’s Fairs are especially welcome.
October 15, 2011, at the Maine
Bill Greene’s Home Movies
Our special guest was Maine television personality Bill Green, who brought in 8mm family films from his childhood in Bangor, Maine. We showed two reels while Bill narrated. Bill, who is known for being easy going and very comfortable in front of an audience, was nervous and endearingly affected by the intimacy of sharing such personal information with strangers. He was obviously moved to see his loved ones and his childhood self again. He was entertaining and charming, dazzling everyone with his ability to name everyone—from politicians to sports figures to cousins and friends—in every frame.
“When I was about ten, I think, we got a home movie camera from Day’s Jewelers, and Dad started firing away. Just horrible even then. But I got a chance to screen it, and it is just moving to see. Both my parents have passed away, and there are my parents! There’s my dad with my sister Marsha, who’s now an attorney. She’s on his shoulders, and they’re going around Jacob Buck Pond, and he’s spitting water out of his mouth like a sea monster. We did that by the day! Things like that are forgotten, but as soon as you see it, snap! You’re right back there.”
Martha White Introduces
E.B. and Katharine White’s granddaughter,
Martha White, presented an introduction and lively running
commentary. A sequence of a teenage boy reading in an armchair,
moving in a 360° arc as he reads, is her uncle, Roger
Angell. “It’s a spoof that he and my grandfather
put together. Cartoonist Gluyas Williams at The New
Yorker had a reading series.” Without White’s
knowledgeable annotation the visual delight would be present,
but the genesis is lost.
She noted generational continuities
of writing, reading, and boatbuilding. Summing up her grandfather’s
films, Martha White said, “He shot the lambs or the
new chicks or my father learning to row. These small moments.
He shot his daily life, not the big moments.” Much
of the footage includes farm animals, but an especially
Charlotte’s Web moment occurred with the
closeup of a spider, causing many audience members to gasp
Other Highlights from 2010
A man named Bruce brought in two large reels of 16mm film he found in his late aunt’s house. While one was too shrunken to show, the other turned out to be the 1951 wedding of his parents. It had titles and appeared to be semi-professionally shot. Having only seen black and white still photographs of the wedding, Bruce narrated the film as best he could, seeing his entire family together, in color. He even identified the suit he wore to shreds starring as Dracula in his own childhood home movies! During the wedding film a woman exclaimed, “This isn’t even my family and I want to cry!”
It is always a privilege to be able to bring these personal memories to light. The audiences are wonderful, and the discussions always lively and engaging.
What is Home Movie Day?
Home Movie Day events provide an opportunity for individuals and families to see and share their own home movies with an audience from their community, and to see their neighbors’ in turn. It’s a chance to discover why we care about these films and to learn how best to care for them.
The founders of HMD knew that many people have boxes full of family memories that they’ve never seen for lack of a projector, or out of fear that the films were too fragile to be viewed. They also knew that many people were having their amateur films transferred to videotape or DVD, with the mistaken idea that their new digital copies would last forever and the “obsolete” films could be discarded.
HMD is now a worldwide celebration where people meet their local film archivists, find out about the archival advantages of film over video and digital media, and—most importantly—get to watch those old family films!
Home Movie Day is a project of the Center for Home Movies.