The Motion Picture Centennial

Journal of Film Preservation, March 1992 | Go to article overview

The Motion Picture Centennial


Projects from other archives

"Going to the Movies"

by Koran Sheldon and Pamela WmUe

"Going to the Movies": 100 Years of Motion Pictures in Northern New England" is the title of a travelling exhibition of artifacts and moving images being planned by Northeast Historic Film, an independent, regional, nonprofit moving image archive in Blue Hill Falls, Maine, USA founded in 1986. It is involved in preservation activities and outreach, including a 1990-91 screening series concentrating on recreated silent film programs with live music and the gathering of pre-1930 audience oral histories from audience members. This screening series was assisted by FIAF member archives, the Museum of Modem Art and the Library of Congress. Out of this experience arose the idea for a centennial of the motion picture exhibition.

With planning funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a U.S. government agency, an exhibition script is being produced with participation of ten scholars in the areas of New England history, North American social history, music and popular culture and cinema studies. These men and women are based in New York, Washington, Toronto, Montreal and around New England.

The purpose of the exhibition is to use the moviegoing experience as a way to understand the twentieth-century history of the northeast United States: the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The project's focus is the concept of community and an examination of cultural values and activities enforced and changed by movies. The format of an exhibition of three-dimensional artifacts was chosen in order to present historical evidence in the form of technological and architectural artifacts, manuscripts, advertising materials, photographs, moving images and sound and to place them in the context of social and film history.

Venues for the exhibition are planned to be nontraditional. As presently conceived it is to be an approximately 1,500 square foot exhibition which will travel to the three states involved and be installed as a medium-security staffed show in otherwise empty commercial space in shopping malls. It seeks a diverse audience. The spectator is in large part the topic of the exhibition, and audience input - as past and present moviegoers - is going to be actively sought by way of questionnaires and oral histories within the context of the exhibition. …

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