HMD Report: Berkeley, California
Thanks to Pamela Jean Smith for this report:
This year was PFA’s third Home Movie Day. We tried things a bit differently with drop-off/inspection time from 11:00am-1:00pm and the screening started at 1:00pm, kicked off with a tribute to Kodachrome. We got a lot of early submissions so we were more prepared this year, and everyone who brought in film was able to see one or two of their reels.
This year I made Kodachroma cookies (with red-green-blue M&Ms) and we raffled away transfer time thanks to three local labs (Monaco, Video Transfer Center, and Audio Video Workshop).
Films represented all parts of the Bay - Berkeley, Oakland, Benecia, San Francisco, Fresno - and beyond - Oregon, Alaska, Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Mexico, Egypt. Every film except maybe two or three included a story from someone in the audience.
City: Berkeley, CA
Event Venue: Pacific Film Archive
Event time (inspection): 11:00-1:00 plus early drop off Event time (open screening): 1:00-4:00 (beginning with a Kodachrome tribute)
Total Audience (open screening): 49 (not including volunteers)
Number of people bringing films: 12
Films screened by Gauge (open screening): 8mm: 9, Super 8: 4, 16mm: 5
Volunteers: 12 - Stefano Boni, Adrienne Cardwell, Megan Clement, Jonathan Knapp, Lucy Laird, Margaret Mello, Crystal Rangel, Jon Shibata, Pamela Jean Smith, Lauren Sorenson, Kyle Westphal, Troy Vadakan and Anuj Vaidya
Special events/screenings: ‘A Home Movie Homage to Kodachrome’ - a curated program of Kodachrome movies with audience participation and special music picked out for each movie
Press (pre-event and post-event): The Berkeley Daily Planet, the Berkeleyan, PFA Film Notes/Calendar. SF360, San Francisco Film Society’s online newsletter, published an interview with Pamela the week before the event. Calendar listings in weekly independent newspapers the Guardian, East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and online on Facebook, SF Station, squid list, craigslist, fecal face, Flavorpill and UC Berkeley’s calendar. A few people attended as part of Rick and Megan Prelinger’s Pickpocket Almanack course.
Highlights of the day:
New HMD friend Carol brought in 44 reels of regular 8 film that her grandfather shot, all kept in their original metal boxes. Since her grandfather was a Japanese American filmmaker who owned his own photography studio, he was thought to be a spy and interned during the war, so all of his films document life before and after the war. Carol hadn’t seen any of his films before, and we were able to show two of them dated 1945-1951: one included accidental double exposures of an airfield, a bright red truck with two men shaking hands next to it, fields, trees, and a close-up of Carol and her twin sister as little girls, and the other reel was documentation of a patriotic street parade in Fresno shortly after the war ended (and the family was released). This collection also includes amazing 1939 footage of the World’s Fair on Treasure Island, focusing specifically on sights of the Japanese pavilion, but it was unfortunately too shrunken and fragile to project.
Beautiful Kodachrome 16mm footage of Doug’s parents’ newlywed trip to Florida. We begin with his parents lounging on the beach and snorkeling (with cuts to underwater scenes, shot earlier at an aquarium) then they go to a chimpanzee show where chimps play the drums and piano (“Liberachi”), ride bikes and tightrope walk. Then on to Parrot World, where Doug’s dad gets covered with macaws - two on each arm and one on his head! Doug brought this reel in last year, and I had to include it again in the Kodachrome tribute for the colors and for all the animal antics.
Scott Stark loaned two great 16mm movies from his collection - a drunken 1951 Christmas scene of two couples drinking champagne, opening presents, drinking more champagne, and layering their dog with leftover ribbon and a wonderful black & white film from the early 1940s of a family from San Francisco singing “Back in the Saddle” (and occasionally hooting and hollering ‘yippee’ and ‘yow yow wow!’). It was shot on an optical sound Auricon camera. The sound simply shimmered!! (Scott showed these films at Orphans West this year, and again at Other Cinema… if he comes to your town don’t miss them!)
An anonymous regular 8mm Kodachrome reel from Alaska, 1960. Two African American boys (“Craig and David”) open presents and do the twist like crazy as their mom looks on with a little smirk. Then there are scenes of everyone dancing in the living room.
An amazing split-screen trick film brought in by one of our volunteers, Adrienne, which was made by her dad when he was in his early twenties (1963). Using his neighbors as actors, he shoots the film twice so that husband and wife are looking at each other on the couch, then in another shot he puts a floor lamp in the middle of the screen and everyone disappears into the lamp!
Ruins of Playland-at-the-Beach in the early 1970s. Lonely, long glances of demolished amusement rides, broken windows and solitary people walking down the street.
Documentation of a lost bet: a man is forced to roll a roll of toilet paper out of a bar and across the main street of Benecia on his hands and knees through mud puddles. It looks like most of the town is there to see it.
A sequel to last year’s wedding film: The Grand Train Trip. The Fishers move to New York from San Francisco. We go from Oakland to Silver Creek Falls near Mt. Hood, Oregon. Scenes of picnicking among vibrant green ferns and swimming in a heated pool surrounded by snow. Mr. Fisher plays around with speed and his zoom lens, and there are lots of loving close-ups of his wife (Mr. Fisher refers to these shots as “artsy”).
A beautifully shot Kodachrome movie from 1938 of a Chicago family’s visit to Bunker Hill - a wonderful mix of movement and repose. A little girl in a sailor suit swings toward the camera followed by a shot of a group of kids in front of the Bunker Hill monument, standing still as if for a photograph. One of the boys has a wiggling puppy in his arms.