Home Movie Day – Reliving Memories Through Film Reels

Photo by Antonella Bonfanti.
Photo by Antonella Bonfanti.

This past Saturday another Home Movie Day was celebrated, this time in the beautiful theater at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. Co-organized by CAAM and some of our partners in the local archive community, the event was a success with many participants joining the event, submitting home movie reels to share with the audience of 50. Some home movies were from personal collections; others were found online or purchased at events like estate auctions and garage sales.

A rare 9.5mm movie projector.

A 9.5mm movie projector. Photo by Antonella Bonfanti.

The evening’s program started around 3:30 PM, where participants’ reels where inspected by archivists from the Center for Audio Visual Preservation Project (CAVPP) and the Internet Archive. At 5:00 PM, participants and audience members gathered in the theater, a converted church with pews and a functioning pipe organ to watch the films as they were originally intended to be shown—through a film projector and onto a white screen. Those that brought in their reels got on a microphone and provided impromptu narration, recounting childhood memories that the footage brought to mind, and some providing short lessons about the history of this medium. An extra special treat was watching a home movie from the 1920s on the lesser known 9.5 mm format, thanks to Buck Bito of Movette Film Transfer.

Following a small reception of snacks and beer, everyone gathered once more to watch a presentation titled “Tourist in My Own City,” edited by yours truly. The title and concept was imagined by Pamela Vadakan of CAVPP and most of the footage came from the Internet Archive. The audience seemed to enjoy it as they were treated to a live score on the church organ.

—Davin Agatep

About CAAM’s Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies initiative

Through Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies, the power of collective memory and media will bring to life the experiences of Asian American communities from across the country and spanning six decades (1920s through the 1980s) of the 20th Century. We hope that this truly unique arts experience will collectively and aesthetically construct shared social, cultural, and political representations of Asian America directly from the community itself. At the heart of this project is how collective memory can be amassed and sustained through interactive participation. Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies demonstrates the importance of collective storytelling and will provide a greater understanding of the Asian American experience.

For more information about Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies, please visit our home movies website.