- Living Room Cinema: Films from Home Movie Day, Volume 1
Slightly dusty, occasionally scratched, yet entirely intriguing, the home movies and amateur films compiled on Living Room Cinema: Films from Home Movie Day, Volume 1 showcase the dynamic variety of films that may appear at one of the many lively Home Movie Day events hosted annually around the world.1 Beginning in 2003, Home Movie Day has since expanded to local venues situated across five continents in a growing effort to raise awareness about the importance of amateur film preservation, share methods of proper storage, and celebrate the phenomena of the local and personal histories presented on screen by the many participants of the events.2 Pulling together a diverse selection of films from Home Movie Day participants, the home movies and amateur films collected on this disc offer a glimpse of the personal lives of peoples from various locales and time periods as well as unique experiments in the uses of film technologies and methods of storytelling. Although home movies and amateur films may often be thought of as fitting the stereotypical tropes of lacking production value and visionary foresight, what this compilation reveals, instead, is the value of these films that is waiting to be discovered not only by scholars, but also within the homes of the filmmakers and viewers as these movies move out of the attic and into wider discourse.
Behind the repackaging and repurposing of these films is the Center for Home Movies, a nonprofit organization focused on the preservation of amateur motion pictures.3 As the primary coordinator of Home Movie Day, the Center for Home Movies has been a key contributor to the broader dissemination of home movie and amateur film materials since its establishment in 2005. In collaboration with the Orphan Film Symposium, the Center for Home Movies has taken part in preserving and promoting collections of home movies from various sources.4 Partnering with the Internet Archive, many films from the organization's collections appear online for free viewing alongside the home movies of individual collectors.5 The Living Room Cinema DVD is another means by which the Center for Home Movies is making these films more widely available as the efforts of the organization continue to expand. This video offers an introduction to the diverse world of home movies and amateur films for the interested enthusiast, preservationist, or scholar.
The vintage of the twenty-two movies included on the DVD ranges from as early as the 1920s to as recently as 1998. The majority of the films were shot in various locations across the United States, but a select few were produced in other countries, including Thailand, Cuba, Japan, and the United Kingdom. The film-to-video transfer is of high quality, with transfer services performed by preservation and telecine laboratory Colorlab. Although some of the source materials have the occasional defect (as may be expected), the final product of the transfer appears to capture crisply the grain of the various film stocks on display while minimizing signs of ghosting or interlacing in the transfer. The two hours of amateur footage that make up the bulk of the disc are encoded on a dual-layer DVD, offering a higher video bitrate and quality for the transfers. Included along with the films is an eight-minute video [End Page 171] showing scenes from several different Home Movie Day events, acting as an introduction for those who may not have attended one of the events before viewing the DVD. Apart from this vignette, the key special features that make this DVD especially valuable for viewing and repeat viewing are the audio options that complement the films.
From the menu of the DVD, there are options to view the films either with or without commentary. Without commentary, there are original scores composed on piano by Donald Sosin that appropriately complement the atmospheres of the films. If available, films with synchronous sound will be played with original audio. With commentary, the majority of the films play with newly recorded oral accounts provided by the...