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Research note

‘L’amateur en cinéma: un autre paradigme. Histoire, esthétique, marges et institutions’ by Benoit Turquety, Chiara Rubessi, Roger Odin, Beatriz Rodovalho, Giuseppina Sapio, and Dominique Bluher, Association française de recherche sur l’histoire du cinema, 2017.

Invitation to contribute to ‘Documentary and the Amateur Media Swarming’ Seminar, Visible Evidence XXIX, University of Udine, Italy, September 6-9, 2023.

‘Documentary and the Amateur Media Swarming”

Amateur movie makers acted as chroniclers of their time (Motrescu-Mayes and Aasman 2019), going out with their camera and capturing life on the streets and during events. Although increased hybridization characterizes the “home movie” mode and the “amateur/experimental” one, they historically swung from a domestic/observation-based practice to a more complex multi-layered one. Documentary and amateur film practices shared a lineage in the way they maintained a relationship with their environments, in the forms of observing, keeping memory and participating. Nevertheless, media technologies played a decisive role in expanding the realm of the observable, providing new manners of observation, extending the radius of influence. Accordingly, the primacy of observation – of inner or exterior worlds – never outdid creative, militant, and experimental methods, meant as strategies for discovering a “hidden reality” (be intimate/psychological or social) by treating “facts” as technical effects of experimental arrangements or “committed” modes of filmmaking (Gaines 1999). Rather than focusing on the single work’s representations or on the authorial intention of single personalities, this seminar assumes a media ecological perspective, while questioning the impact of spatial interactions and technical entanglements on the amateur film production. It invites us to look at practitioners and their works from afar, addressing the way filmmakers and amateur images flew and circulated among spaces, media infrastructures, and networks, within a multi-dimensional scale, in a long durée perspective.
Scholarship on amateur media history recently stressed global and transnational perspectives (Fibla-Salazkina 2021) as well as critical temporalities (Motrescu-Mayes and Aasman 2019), addressing media practices from analog to digital. This seminar invites to discuss new modes of representing and questioning the amateur “motion intelligence” and identity, stressing media materiality according to a “media theory of swarming”, where situation-dependent interactions on the local level could be transformed by the feedback effects caused by the global changes of the swarm on these local interactions (Vehlken 2019). It will discuss models of interaction between individuals and multiplicity/collectives, material formats of image circulation in relation to local and global media infrastructures, individual or collective movements across multi-scale networks.
Should you be interested to contribute, please send a short proposal (inclusive of a title, a 100-word abstract, and a 150-word bio) to Andrea Mariani by February 24th, 2023

“Du Pathé-Baby au 9.5 mm, l’invention du Cinéma chez soi”, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé et à l’INHA, Paris, December 5-6, 2022.

Please see here

‘Révélez vos bobines 9.5 mm’, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, 26 Nov. 2022 & 16 Jan. 2023.

Please see here

‘Séance spéciale : Films amateurs en 9,5 mm’, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Paris, 25 November 2022.

Please see here

‘9.5mm: and Cinema is Everywhere’, international conference, Berne (& online).  November 17-19, 2022.

Please see here

‘Florilège Pathé-Baby’, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé, Nov. 10 & 24, 2022

Please see here

International Symposium ‘Contemporary reuse of Amateur Films #1’

Please see here & Programme and Abstracts.

Amateur Cinema SIG, BAFTSS Conference, April 20 2022

Amateur Cinema and the histories and politics of collaborative creative practices

Chair: Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (University of Cambridge)

  • Tom Slootweg (University of Groningen): Challenging amateur modes: Or how to deal with the variety of intent among amateur media practitioners?
  • Giuseppina Sapio (Université Jean Jaurès/LERASS): A middlebrow eye: home movies between ideological subjection and profanation
  • Graeme Spurr (University of the Arts London): Getting Down to the Frillies: Glamour, Permissiveness and Fashion in the UK Amateur Cinema Press, 1970-1980

CfP: ‘Contemporary re-use of Amateur Films #1. Stakeholders, intentionalities and reappropriation contexts’ Colloquium(Nice, France, 20-21 October 2022). Deadline for submitting proposals: 1 April 2022.

“◄ Amateur Films environment. Amateur cinema, that is to say all movies made without any intention of trade, has accompanied the “official history” of cinema, for over a century now. Major industrialists have moreover contributed significantly to support these practices, offering on the market cameras specifically designed, from the “Pathé-Baby” in 1923 to mobile phones today. The resulting images of this history are countless and contrary to common beliefs, of great diversity – in terms of production formats, but also of sociologic characteristics of these “amateurs of movies” (Vignaux & Turquety 2016). Of course, Home Movies figure prominently within these productions. But amateur filmmakers also did documentaries or fiction films (referred to as “Amateur Films” in the Anglo-Saxon scientific literature), in particular in the frame of the numerous cinema or video clubs which accompanied, from a technological and sociological point of view, the history of amateur production, and where aesthetic considerations and judgments created spaces of “aesthetic sociability” (Allard 1999).
These films were long kept in the domestic space, but since the 1980s, they were gradually collected by national or regional film archives. In France, regional archives centers (and not the National French Film Archive) assumed the responsibility of the preservation of these films. Their mission consists of collecting, indexing and promoting the amateur films. It is within this framework that, during the last fifteen years, were created digital interfaces, with an editorial treatment of the contents: an open access to this kind of films is now possible for the general public.
Made available, online, these collections, in France as all as all over the world, stimulated a lot of scientific research. Amateur cinema is considered in its historical development (Aasman 2016, Czach 2018, Nicholson 2012, Salazkina & Fibla-Guttiérez 2020, Tepperman 2015, Zimmerman 1995), or in its contemporary forms (Motrescu-Mayes & Nicholson 2019), but also as a specific enunciation context (Albera 2015, Odin 1999), a social practice, or an aesthetic phenomenon (Allard 1999, Craven 2012). Special attention was given to Home Movies (Avantaggiato 2010, Moran 2002, Odin 1995, Toussignant 2004, Ishizuka & Zimmermann 2008), even if few works refer to fiction films. Other publications question the impact of these images, in terms of representations, through the prism of regional landscapes and cultures (Ambert, Bonnardot & Cadé 2015, Génot 2003, Simoni 2019) or of an historical period (Bouyer & Dufresne 2003, Fibla-Gutierrez 2018, Guerin 2012, Guillamot 2020, Kattelle 2000, McNamara & Sheldon 2017, Porcile 1997).
◄ A research project on the reuse of amateur film
Based on this scientific environment, the LIRCES (Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Narratives, Cultures and Societies) is undertaking a research project dedicated to the contemporary reuse of these amateur images. Indeed, many artists (visual and video artists, musicians, filmmakers), historians, archivists, educators, etc., but also Internet users, outside any professional structure, work these heritage materials to create new contents, in the form of editing films (fictions, documentaries, autobiographical films, experimental and art films …), video clips, musical or visual performances (concert films, Vjing…). The new appropriation of these often-intimate images serves multiple purposes – from experimentation, aesthetic exploration, auto-ethnographic gesture, to pedagogical mediation.
Drawing on Dominique Païni’s (2013) assertion that “every archive needs something other than itself to be activated, fruitful”, the secondary elaborations of basic amateur films proceed from the invention of forms, writings, rhythms, objects that question both the filmic material and the modalities of its mediation. The reuse of archival films is not, in itself, a new phenomenon, and many research studies look at the results of these “recycling” (cf. the “cartography” produced by Brenez & Chodorov 2000), whether they take the form of “mash-ups”, found footage, remixes, collages, supercuts or visual experiments – “between remixes and avant-gardes” (Blümlinger 2013) – in the field of film and/or new media theory, as well as the history of cinema and art (Habib 2006). Nevertheless, the question of the reuse of amateur film archives is the subject of less consideration in existing works (the following works should, however, be noted: Russell 1999; Thill 2009; Criqui, Suter & Dryansky 2011; Tenório Luna 2020, and so on). Researchers favor reflections on creative gestures, which question the industrialization of forms and contents, in line with historical materialism, and which therefore draw their material from commercial formats, and especially from Hollywood cinema (Elsaesser 2016, Rees 2011…).Furthermore, the explosion of experiments, caused by the availability of amateur film archives on the Internet, constitutes a particularly stimulating context for developing research in this direction, since these new forms modify the relationship maintained with the amateur archive image, but also modify its function in archival logics, and therefore in the collective filmed heritage.
◄ Contemporary re-uses of amateur film #1: a first colloquium in Nice in October 2022
This colloquium, organized in Nice (Espace Magnan) on October 20 and 21, 2022, aims to question the multiplicity of intentionality that intersect, depending on the frames and actors involved, in this step of reuse: What are the categories of professionals who engage, regularly or occasionally, in these practices? And when these works of re-use are born from a non-professional approach, what are the stakes to which these proposals answer? What kinds of products born from these gestures and how are they valued? The answers to these questions will aim, from case studies or specific analyses, to provide the material for a first comprehensive mapping of the environment and the purposes of these creations or secondary exploitations of the amateur image.
The colloquium will welcome academics and specialists in the field, as well as professionals, archivists, or artists engaged in reuse works. The communications will last from 20 to 30 minutes. It’s also possible to propose projections or commented performances, to illustrate and show to the public a significant range of these contemporary reappropriations, in a program linked to the theme of these two days of contributions and scientific exchanges. Events will also be organized throughout the week of October 17 in some partner venues in Nice to introduce the public to the variety and richness of works based on the reuse of amateur cinema.
Proposals should be 1-2page presentation and a few bibliographical lines. They are expected before April 1, 2022, at the following address:
This colloquium is organized by LIRCES (Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Récits, Cultures et Sociétés). Since its creation, LIRCES has been involved in an inter- and transdisciplinary scientific project that brings together Psychology, Anthropology, Ethnology, Civilizations and Literature, and SIC, around a unifying theme that is narrative, and even more so, narrativity understood as the power of narration.

© 2010 Amateur Cinema (Media) Studies Network