Home Movie Day: Portland

“I make home movies
therefore I am.
I am, therefore
I make home movies.”

~Jonas Mekas, Walden (1969)

As a film programmer, my one hard and fast rule was to actually watch anything before screening it. A lot of movies sound really great on paper and are really crap on the screen. This Sunday, we’re going to take that one little rule, fold it up like a paper airplane, and toss it out the window.

Home Movie Day is an international celebration of the art of amateur movie-making on 8mm and 16mm film. Whether it’s footage of grandma blowing out candles at her 80th birthday party or a cops-and-robbers movie made by grade-school kids, this is an opportunity to share, preserve and celebrate old films.

For this event, community members are encouraged to bring their home movies for inspection and potential exhibition. Local film experts, along with archivists from the University of Oregon Libraries, will assess the physical condition of the film before projecting movies for viewing. They will also offer advice on how to best preserve and protect these film formats from damage.

The enduring success of Home Movie Day lies in the thrill of uncovering original film footage of places, people and events — both familiar and strange — that may have rested unseen in household closets for decades. At a 2006 Home Movie Day event in New Haven, Connecticut, amateur film maker Robbins Barstow shared his 1956 travelogue “Disneyland Dream,” which captured his family’s visit to the Magic Kingdom in its first year of operation. Also captured in the background is a fleeting glimpse of future comedian Steve Martin selling guidebooks in a top hat and striped pink shirt. See the clip below for a preview.

Screenings and education will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18, from noon to 5 p.m. at the UO Portland’s White Stag Block, 70 NW Couch St. Admission is free.

~Michael Neault

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