Ongoing and past projects relating to the use, research and promotion of amateur cinema and home movies.
Enrique Fibla-Gutiérrez is currently co-editing a special issue for Film History titled “Towards a global history of amateur film practices and institutions”, including an authored article titled “A vernacular national cinema: amateur filmmaking in Catalonia (1932-1936)”. Enrique is also completing a PhD. dissertation on 1930s non commercial film cultures in Spain, with a chapter on the little known Catalan Amateur film movement, which hosted the first International Amateur Film Congress in 1935 in Barcelona/Sitges.
‘This NWO-funded research project addresses a number of questions dealing with the complex interrelationship between technology, specific user generations and spaces or places of cultural memory production in home movie making and screening. More concretely we are interested in the question how changing technologies of cultural production (film, video or digital camera) have shaped new practices and rituals of memory staging (screening of the films in domestic of public venues) and thereby initiated processes of (re)negotiating user generations and group identities.
Home movies, often referred to as family films or home videos, are situated at the heart of family memory practices, mostly displayed in the private realm of the domestic space. From the invention of the film camera at the end of the nineteenth century until well into the sixties, amateur film making on 9,5mm, 16mm or 8mm film was predominantly a domestic hobby practiced by middle class men. With the diffusion of the video camera in the 1970s and 1980s, home movies did not only spread more widely, but the context and possibilities of display also changed enormously. Subsequently, the mass dissemination of digital recording technologies in the 1990s and 2000s brought about a true revolution. Home movies have definitely abandoned their niche as domestic family ritual and conquered the public spaces of diverse internet platforms. As a new cultural practice it became part of twentieth century family life. Video portals like You Tube, blogging sites as Twitter or online social networks such as Hyves or Facebook force us to rethink the technological, social and cultural dimensions of traditional and ritualized forms of memory practices. To grasp the technical, social and cultural dimension and historical meaning of this radical change in the making and screening of home movies, this project proposes to systematically investigate the crucial relationship between memory technologies and mediated memory practices in a longue durée perspective.
The changing practices of home movie making and screening have not been studied systematically, from a long-term perspective, yet. As long as home movie practices are associated with nostalgic domestic imagery produced on film, there is the danger of a growing gap in our cultural heritage. The nearly total absence of VHS and, to a lesser extent, digitally recorded material in audiovisual archives and its critical material status (VHS tapes deteriorate much faster than analogue films; the digital standards change continuously) make the historical study of VHS and digital home movie practices a matter of absolute urgency, both from an archival and museological perspective. An increased attention for the pure materiality of the recorded memories both in terms of storage and accessibility is therefore of crucial importance for the project in all its dimensions.’
Conference: “Changing Platforms of Memory Practices”, 10-12 September 2015, Groningen the Netherlands. See program here
Moving By Design Press (MBD) – open letter from the founder, Dr. Alison Kahn (Oxford Brookes University)
‘Dear Amateur Cinema Studies Research Fellows,
I was honoured to be among the first researchers of archive projects highlighted on the Amateur Cinema Network website with my documentary ‘Captured By Women’ – a film making use of digitised footage of 16mm amateur film by women anthropologists in the 1930s. The documentary can be seen here on the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford, who hold the collections. http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/kahn.html. My interests in amateur film centre around the feminist, post-colonial, anthropological and the ontological. My recent investigations into digital technologies has led me to migrate the documentary to a multimedia ebook format, to explore and contextualise further the material. As a practitioner as well as a theorist, I believe that ebook technology can provide a forum for further investigation and contextualisation. It is with this in mind that I created Moving By Design Press (MBD). It was founded to develop connections between images, objects and memories within museum, gallery and artist collections. Utilising the digital publication space as one of curatorial dialogue, MBD aims to increase access, engagement and interaction with the physical archive via tablet and mobile technologies. Notwithstanding, we have also created a new space as part of the Press for a peer-reviewed ejournal to provide further forums for discussion around our mutual interests and challenges. Plans for edition themes include:
– Archive Film and Memory
– Cross-cultural Practices in Amateur Cinema
– New Media and the Dissemination of Digitised Film Material
– Aesthetics and Amateur Cinema
– Womens’ Contribution to Documentary/Ethnographic Film
– Curating the Digital Space in the Museum
Visit our website below for further details on all of the above: http://www.movingbydesignpress.co.uk”
‘Private Pasts and Future Publics‘ by Daniel Mauro (University of Texas at Austin, US)
Mauro is exploring research questions such as whether home movies are ‘truly “representative” of the everyday on a larger scale?’ and ’Do curators/filmmakers/scholars/etc. have the goal of making these films representative, or, is it the context of their selection that necessarily positions them on a representative scale?’.
‘Ephemeral Films: National Socialism in Austria‘ (2011-2013). Among the goals of the project are the preservation, scientific exploration and analysis of a unique collection of “ephemeral” films on National Socialism in Austria. The group includes more than fifty films, largely unknown and in need of restoration, which relate to the rise of the NSDAP since 1932, Austria’s “annexation” in 1938, the war period from 1941-42 as well as Jewish everyday life before the expulsion and the Holocaust. These documents – mostly amateur films, but also “Kulturfilme” and other types of sponsored films – derive from the collections of the Austrian Film Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC. The two institutions have, in 2011, begun to intensify their collaboration in this field. During the course of the project, the preserved films will be contextualized and made accessible to a broader public in order to complement and correct a discourse which has been dominated to an extreme degree by the imagery of propaganda film.
Unitat d’Investigació del Cinema, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain (since c. 2002)A research group led by Prof. José Carlos Suarez Fernandez that has specialised in the identification, recovery and research of non-professional (amateur and domestic) film. The group has already recovered over 3,000 amateur films and is disseminating its research in published works and by making short documentaries and television programs. The group supports the recently launched Cinemateca Antoni Martra Badia,
‘Children and Amateur Media in Scotland’, UK (2010 – 2014). Team: team – Prof. Karen Lury (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Ryan Shand (Research Assistant).
A major aspect of the project is to locate amateur video makers active between 1980-2000 and preserve and store some of the videos made during this period. The academic research team, based at the University of Glasgow, will investigate this video material to gain a unique insight into the lives of Scottish children in the twentieth century.
Film Fairfilm Project, USA (ongoing)
A collaboration of Northeast Historic Film, the Queens Museum of Art, and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
For bulletins on the progress of this ongoing project, visit NHF’s Hidden Collections blog, The Big Reveal.
Stichting Amateurfilm Foundation (since 2004), Netherlands.
The Foundation consists of a small team of five board members who organise and support various activities concerning amateur film in all its varied forms. The Foundation wants to stimulate the collection, preservation and re(use) of amateur film material, to support the research of amateur film, both through funding and through the team’s own research, and aims to arouse public interest in both historical and modern day forms of amateur film production.
The project was dedicated to the 17,5mm-film format which was patented by the Heinrich-Ernemann A.G. in Dresden in 1902 and brought on the market in 1903. The project was conducted by Martina Roepke (University of Utrecht) and Henk Verheul (Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision, Hilversum) with the support of the Association Europeènne Inédits.