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Close Readings: Symposium on Amateur Films
Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28
Contact:  Dwight Swanson at 207 469-0924.

Intimate records on film offer a road map to understanding the past and its 
connection to the present in Close Readings: Seeing Amateur Films in 
Important Ways at Northeast Historic Film, the moving image archives in 
Bucksport, Maine, July 27 and 28.  
Aimed at anyone interested in home movies and their cultural significance, 
the symposium will be moderated by Mark Neumann and Rick Prelinger.  Among 
presenters will be filmmaker and home movie expert Jeffrey Ruoff, Film & 
Television Studies, Dartmouth College, editor of the current "Travelogues and 
Travel Films," issue of Visual Anthropology. 
    Rick Prelinger, of Prelinger Archives in San Francisco, a proponent of 
public access to cultural resources, will talk about the potential the 
Internet offers film archives and their users. Prelinger Archives, which has 
the world's largest privately held collection of 20th-century American 
advertising, educational, industrial and amateur films, is already doing it 
with 995 titles through a partnership with the Internet Moving Images Archive 
(www.archive.org). The films are playable on PCs equipped with the 
appropriate hardware and software.
    In his presentation, "Amateur Film, Copyright and New Media," Prelinger 
will talk about why giving up total control of access benefits archives in 
the long run.  Through its arrangement, Prelinger Archives has mounted its 
material online at little cost, received immeasurable free publicity, and 
formed beneficial business relationships.
    Martha McNamara, University of Maine historian, will present 
"Investigating Authenticity," a look at the interpretation of moving images.    
McNamara asks her Maine history students to compare From Stump to Ship, a 
film about logging practices shot for the Machias Lumber Company in 1930, and 
Woodsmen and River Drivers, a 1985 documentary featuring interviews with many 
of the men who appear in the earlier movie. The later film includes a woman's 
voice in the mill's former bookkeeper, as well as perspective of some 
contemporary loggers. 
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Close Readings: Symposium on Amateur Films                                    
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Student opinions on which film tells a more compelling story about early 20th 
century always vary, and that is the point. "My students' lives are 
completely saturated with moving images," McNamara says. "I want to teach a 
basic visual literacy. They need to be able to apply to these moving images 
the skills most of us bring to reading. I want them to ask, who made this 
image and why? What was their goal? What are they trying to convince me to 
believe?"    
    Barbara Greenstone, Technology Literacy Integrator at Mt. Ararat Middle 
School in Topsham, Maine, will explore how students can use moving images to 
gain to a deeper understanding of their community's past and present.  "These 
kids took videos apart and really had to think about what the footage meant," 
Greenstone said. "It was much more meaningful than if they had just watched a 
movie."  Her presentation is in the context of Maine's commitment to supply a 
laptop computer (with video editing software installed) for each 7th and 8th 
grader.
Lunch is provided for Symposium registrants Saturday and Sunday. The cost for 
the program is $50 for two days; includes coffee breaks, lunches, welcome & 
screening of From Stump to Ship: A 1930 Logging Film on Friday, July 26 at 
4:30. p.m.  A printable registration form is available on the Northeast 
Historic Film website, www.oldfilm.org, or call 207 469-0924.  The program is 
supported in part by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council. 

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Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
University of Alabama: http://www.tcf.ua.edu