Another successful Home Movie Day! We are grateful to partners Historic Columbia and The Nickelodeon, to the families who submitted home movies for screening, and to all of you who came out to celebrate.
More than 50 Columbians dropped by during the Soda City Farmers Market to chat with our staff about the challenges of preserving and providing access to home movie collections. Many more paused to grab the free 8 and 16mm film reels we were handing out. Although aesthetically pleasing, metal reels can deform the film and trigger decomposition. Giving them away to community members is, to our minds, a nice bit of recycling. By the end of the morning, more than 50 metal reels had found a new home (the teal color moved especially quickly).
Inside the theater, a program featuring images of the city of Columbia and trips around the state from our archive’s collections ran on a loop for free, drop-in viewing. One visitor described the images as “seductive and fascinating.” Another noted how surprising and moving it can be to see children in early 20th Century fashions behaving just like children today.
At noon, we screened the three submissions for this year’s awards competition, all submitted by families that also elected to donate their collections to MIRC. I had the honor of serving on the jury panel, alongside Kristin Morris, Marketing Manager for The Nickelodeon, and John Sherrer, Director of Cultural Resources for Historic Columbia and author of the beautiful book Remembering Columbia. The three of us were charged with awarding two prizes: a Historic Prize, for the submission we judged most historically significant, and a Jury Prize, for the submission we judged to be “best in show.”
The Historic Prize went to the De La Cova Family Home Movies, which featured images of a newly-constructed, Mid-Century era suburb of Louisville, Kentucky. We on the panel felt that it was a fascinating document of the environment of the post-war building boom targeted at middle class families. These home movies give us an appreciation of what those spaces really looked like at the time they were built—a concrete idea of the facades, of the chain link fences, of the lack of privacy typical of new development. A brief appearance by comedian Cesar Romero (a cousin of the De La Cova family) didn’t hurt. Antonio De La Cova and Carlina De La Cova won a copy of John Sherrer’s book. We will work with our partners to get their film screened at a Historic Columbia event later this year.
Although we ultimately ruled in favor of the De La Cova submission, this was a tough decision. We also felt the Bergmans Family Home Movies, beautifully exposed footage of a tennis match in 1920s New York State.
The Jury Prize and the Audience Award (decided by audience ballot) went to the Grossglass Family Home Movies, which consisted of stunning Kodachrome images of a 1950s family reunion picnic in Eastern Pennsylvania. The brilliant colors and family atmosphere were moving to the entire audience, but especially to donor Dianne Calder, present in the audience, who cried seeing her family films on the big screen—the first time she had seen them in decades. For both awards, Ms. Calder won a one-year membership to the Nickelodeon Theatre as well as a prize pack, also generously supplied by the Nick.
Many thanks to our partners for donating space, time, and prizes to help make Home Movie Day 2015 a memorable event. We hope to see you next year!
~Written by Heather Heckman, MIRC Director