Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories

Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories

Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories

Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories


The first international anthology to explore the historical significance of amateur film, Mining the Home Movie makes visible, through image and analysis, the hidden yet ubiquitous world of home moviemaking. These essays boldly combine primary research, archival collections, critical analyses, filmmakers' own stories, and new theoretical approaches regarding the meaning and value of amateur and archival films. Editors Karen L. Ishizuka and Patricia R. Zimmermann have fashioned a groundbreaking volume that identifies home movies as vital methods of visually preserving history. The essays cover an enormous range of subject matter, defining an important genre of film studies and establishing the home movie as an invaluable tool for extracting historical and social insights.


Patricia R. Zimmermann

Why Home Movies?

This innocent query suggests a web of misconceptions and dispossessions. Although the evolution of home movies and amateur film has paralleled the historical trajectory of commercial film since 1895, and despite the pervasive use of home filmmaking technologies since the mid-1920s, home movies too often have been perceived as simply an irrelevant pastime or nostalgic mementos of the past, or dismissed as insignificant byproducts of consumer technology. in the popular imaginary, home movies are often defined by negation: noncommercial, nonprofessional, unnecessary.

Mining the Home Movie asks our readers to turn their thinking about cinema inside out, to reverse these popular-culture assumptions about home movies by starting with home movies as a visual practice emerging out of dispersed, localized, and often minoritized cultures, not a practice imposed on them. Amateur film provides a vital access point for academic historiography in its trajectory from official history to the more variegated and multiple practices of popular memory, a concretization of memory into artifacts that can be remobilized, recontextualized, and reanimated.

Contemporary advances in critical historiography, including the Annales School in France, the subaltern historians in India, Foucauldian genealogies, and the new film history in cinema studies, have expanded the range and types of evidence, particularly those considered suppressed or at the margins of official events and practices, as well as promoted new explanatory models of discerning patterns, meaning, and significance within and between disparate events and artifacts. This study of international amateur film as an index, marker, and trace of trauma resonates with these intellectual schools that revise our notion of the historical to include lost and repressed objects, the Home Movie Movement . . .

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