This great little symposium is still taking registrations. See below:
The Fifth Annual Northeast Historic Film Summer Symposium
Moving Image as Biography
Friday, July 30, and Saturday, July 31, 2004
The Northeast Historic Film Summer Film Symposium is a multi-disciplinary
symposium devoted to the history, theory, and preservation of moving images.
Entering its fifth year, the Symposium is noted for bringing together archivists,
scholars, and artists in an intimate setting, Northeast Historic Film, located
in Bucksport, Maine. The Symposium takes place in Northeast Historic Film’s
Alamo Theatre, a cinema with 35mm film projectors as well as video and DVD
Screenings presented by Snowden Becker, Bob Brodsky, and Toni Treadway
Local Views, Developing a Larger History of American Cinema
Charlie Silveus, owner of the 300-seat Eclipse Theatre engaged in the regular
production and exhibition (1914–1927) of short, nonfiction films that focused
their collective attentions on the people, places and events of his home
town, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. The resulting footage provided his audience with
(re)presentations of the local and the quotidian. While such films are
certainly to be cherished by local historians—and Silveus’ films survive because
they were judged worthy by the local fire department—they may at first appear
inconsequential to the larger history of American cinema. However, out of small
places grow large issues. Charlie Silveus’ films, as part of the “local view”
genre provides contemporary film scholars with a powerful, if often
frustrating, object of study that raises questions about, and blurs distinction
between, production and consumption, local and mass, history and memory. Aronson
will launch from a talk he gave at Orphans 2004 to provoke an exploration of
community biography, conceptualizing strategies for scholars, archives, and
communities who are blessed with these artifacts to jointly undertake historical
Michael Aronson is an Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at the
University of Oregon. His research and writing focuses on exhibition and
reception practices in the silent era. He likes Maine, a lot.
The Trouble with Merle
Merle Oberon, the Hollywood film star of the 1930s and 40s, claimed she was
born in the tiny Australian island state of Tasmania – sometimes described as
the full stop on the Australian map. However, there were conflicting accounts
of her birthplace, and after her death it was suggested that she was born in
India. My recent documentary film The Trouble with Merle (2002) explores
notions of celebrity, memory, identity, race and class and considers why Merle Oberon
’s origins continue to matter so much to people in Tasmania. Presenting key
extracts from the film I will discuss my approach to visualising and
structuring the research underpinning it. How can interviews, dramatisations, archival
and faux archival contribute to the documentary’s biography of the star? To
what degree did Oberon’s films such as The Private Life of Henry VIII and their
surrounding publicity and discourses, present an “official” biography of
Oberon and also contribute “evidence” of an alternative Tasmanian provenance?
Maree Delofski is a filmmaker and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Media
at Macquarie University in Sydney where she convenes the Screen Production
strand. Her film productions include The Trouble with Merle (2002) winner of the
NSW Premier’s History Award and short listed for the NSW Premier’s Literary
Award; the award winning documentaries A Calcutta Christmas (1999) and
Philippines My Philippines (1989) and the short drama Every Little Breeze (1993).
Maree has taught at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS)
where she established the Documentary Department and was the first Head of
Documentary. She is currently Research Associate at the Centre for Screen Studies
Research at AFTRS.
Entertaining White America: Biographical Images of Sammy Davis Jr., in Print
and on Film
My presentation will analyze aspects of the biography of Sammy Davis Jr., by
focusing on written and video representations of his image as a performer from
the civil rights period of the 1950s and 1960s to his posthumous image today.
The many commentaries about his life and career have reflected a changing
understanding of race and its relationship to mass-mediated entertainment in
the second half of the twentieth century. In particular, I will closely examine
his membership in the Rat Pack in terms of how it has shaped biographical
images of Davis. By looking at the assumptions of writers and filmmakers in
depicting the role(s) of Sammy Davis Jr., as he performed for white Americans, this
presentation will attempt to assess the significance of the long career of
"Mr. Entertainment" over time.
Robert Goff was born and raised in Liverpool, England. I have a B.A. in
English from the University of Essex and a M.A. in American Culture at the
University of London. I came to the United States to study for a Ph.D. in the
American Culture program at Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and to teach in
their Department of Popular Culture. I later taught American Studies and
popular culture courses at the University of East Michigan, in Ypsilanti, and at the
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. I now live in Providence and
teach in the Continuing Education programs at the University of
Massachusetts-Boston and at Providence College. I am currently researching the career of
Sammy Davis, Jr., in terms of his influence on American culture.
Displaced Images: Jonas Mekas’ Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania (1971)
The films of Jonas Mekas mix “home movie” footage with an eclectic editing
style and personal narration. Focusing on Reminiscences, this paper will
discuss the nodal points between home movies, avant-garde, and autobiography, which
constitute all his diary films. Reminiscences is particularly interesting,
because it documents Mekas’ first journey in twenty-five years to his original
homeland and therefore becomes a meditation on the filmmaker’s identity as a
former displaced person and as an international artist. His search back in time
and through time is a search for past identities, for a way to reconcile his
life as a displaced person in exile with his present day life as an American
filmmaker. In that sense, the political and the personal are constantly
intersecting in his films, political realities being displaced on to the personal and
Jan-Christopher Horak, Curator, Hollywood Entertainment Museum. Previously,
Archives, Universal Studios; Munich Filmmuseum; Eastman House; Adjunct
Professor, UCLA, University of Rochester; Munich Film Academy; University of Salzburg.
PhD. University of Muenster, Germany. M.S. Film, Boston University.
Publications: Making Images Move: Photographers and Avant-Garde Cinema (1997), Berge,
Licht und Traum. Dr. Arnold Fanck und der deutsche Bergfilm (1997), Lovers of
Cinema. (1995), The Dream Merchants (1989), Anti Nazi Filme der
deutschsprachigen Emigration von Hollywood (1984), Fluchtpunkt Hollywood (1986), Helmar
Lerski - Lichtbildner (1982), Film und Foto der zwanziger Jahre (1979). Ca. 200
articles in English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, Czech,
Swedish, Hebrew publications.
Dispelling American Cultural Stereotypes with the Personal: El Paso Vietnam
Filmmaker Adele Ray presents her personal short documentary, El Paso Vietnam.
Adele’s story tells how, a Vietnamese language teacher, Mary Chi (Adele’s
mother), meets Tom (Adele’s father), a U.S. serviceman, in El Paso, Texas,
during the Vietnam War before he leaves for Saigon, Vietnam, which is Mary Chi’s
hometown. This ten-minute 16mm black and white short film uses family photos,
the voices of her parents, and images of the Vietnam War to express a new
perspective never scene in American media. A new perspective of a
non-stereotypical Asian woman, who takes control of her own life, refusing to adopt the role
we assume in America of the passive Asian “war bride” is compellingly told. A
discussion will follow the screening with Ms. Ray about the making of El Paso
Vietnam as well as a talk on how we can use family histories to re-shape
societal views of diverse people.
Adele Ray is a 27-year old emerging filmmaker residing in Jersey City, NJ.
She teaches a course called Digital Moviemaking at Eugene Lang College and New
Information Technologies at NYU (SCPS) in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. She
occasionally works as a film technician at the New School film department.
Recently, Adele worked as a film researcher for Re: Search, a film research and
rights clearance company in Soho. Adele received her MA in Media Studies from the
New School, in 2002, where she made El Paso Vietnam, which has been screening
at various venues in the U.S. and abroad. www.adeleray.rawcity.com
Moving Images, New Media and Autobiography
New Media, in the form of the personal website, has already prompted a
significant change in the autobiographical form and the reception of home mode
imagery. Unlike in the age of home movies or home video, where a family or a group
of friends would gather in a living room and have a movie night where they
would communally watch their own home movies, because of
the Internet audiences are no longer limited temporally or geographically.
The images are available for viewing any time and anywhere. Moreover, the
movies are no longer seen apart from other styles of personal documentation, but
are rather just one of several types of media available. This
presentation will give an overview of the type of amateur moving images
currently available on personal websites and examine some case studies to see how
amateur moving images are being woven into larger autobiographical statements.
Dwight Swanson lives in Milwaukee, where he works for the Milwaukee Public
Libraries and is involved in the creation of the Midwest Media Archives
Alliance. Previously he was an archivist at Northeast Historic Film and the Alaska
Moving Image Preservation Association, and he is a co-founder of Home Movie Day.
His primary interests are home movies and amateur film, and current research
includes the history of American itinerant filmmaking and the
autobiographical form in the mass media era.
Will the Real Mrs. Rowe Please Stand Up
Amateur travel films often were exhibited to family, friends and community
organizations with a "live" lecture by the traveler/filmmaker. Most often the
notes or script for these live narrations have not survived. However, in some
cases, personal journals or unpublished manuscripts accompany these film
collections. Can these documents be used to recreate a live film showing?
In 1956, John and Mariella Rowe embarked on a car rally adventure from Geneva
to Bombay; John Rowe filmed and Mariella Rowe wrote a charming journal. Mr.
Rowe's notes used for presenting the film no longer exist. Using excerpts
from the journal, I, as Mrs. Rowe, will narrate sequences in the film. The
character of Mrs. Rowe is interpreted through the lens of my experience as a girl
growing up in the fifties with a mother of similar age to Mrs. Rowe. This
presentation is also a personal journey, as well as an exploration, of the
possibilities and limitations of creating a persona and a live presentation.
Pamela Wintle, In 1981, Pamela Wintle founded the Human Studies Film
Archives, Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Institution, and has continued to guide this collection of cultural moving
images from around the world. Ms. Wintle is also a founding board member of
Northeast Historic Film and an active participant in the Association of Moving
Image Archivists. Currently, Ms. Wintle is serving a five-year term as AMIA's
alternate representative on the Library of Congress' National Film Preservation
Board. Ms. Wintle graduated over 30 years ago in theater from Ithaca College.
Summer Film Symposium at Northeast Historic Film
The Moving Image as Biography
July 30 and July 31, 2004
Please register by July 12
$50 for two days; includes coffee breaks and lunches.
Shore Dinner information to come.
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