With cameras in every pocket and an audience of millions sitting handily online, everyone these days is a filmmaker. Home movies in the pre-digital age tend to get dismissed as tedious footage of family vacations and birthday parties, but the film preservationists of the Center for Home Movies hope to show that Super-8 cameras captured far more fascinating subjects as well.
“Home movies are a way for people to show how they really live rather than being depicted by someone else,” says archivist Dwight Swanson. “They give us access to people and places that otherwise weren’t recorded on film.”
There are somewhat traditional home movies (even some by Alfred Hitchcock) on the program for “Amateur Night: Home Movies From American Archives,” which Swanson will present this weekend. But there are also glimpses of an atom bomb test, a WWII Japanese internment camp and President Nixon working a crowd — from the president’s perspective.
“I wanted to put together a feature-length program that would spotlight a lot of the films being protected and preserved by the American Film Archives,” Swanson says. “Throughout the 20th century, there were a lot of different filmmakers covering different topics and events and even styles.”