Go down to the basement and dig out your Super 8 memories of that interminable trip to Idaho or that embarrassing 16mm footage of your mother’s rockin’ bat mitzvah and bring them to the Chicago History Museum on Saturday, October 19 for this year’s edition of Home Movie Day. Jointly presented for the third year in a row by Chicago Film Archives and the Northwest Chicago Film Society, Home Movie Day offers Chicagoans the opportunity to gather together and share their celluloid histories.
Home movies provide invaluable records of our families and our communities: they document vanished storefronts, questionable fashions, adorable pets, long-departed loved ones, and neighborhoods-in-transition. Many Chicagoans still possess these old reels, passed down from generation to generation, but lack the projection equipment to view them properly and safely. That’s where Home Movie Day comes in: you bring the films, and we inspect them, project them, and offer tips on storage, preservation, and video transfer–all free of charge. And best of all, you get to watch them with an enthusiastic audience, equally hungry for local history.
All Chicagoans are encouraged to attend and participate in Home Movie Day. This year’s edition will also spotlight two special neighborhoods: Bronzeville and Ravenswood Manor. Unique home movies will resurrect the rich history of Bronzeville’s storied performance hall The Forum and offer glimpses of surprisingly dangerous boyhood diversions along the Chicago River, circa 1970. Watch out, too, for the home movies of Olympic medalist Ralph Metcalfe.
Come for the home movies and stay for Home Movie Day Bingo; prizes include memberships to the Gene Siskel Film Center and Chicago Filmmakers and a $100 gift certificate for home movie video transfer services.
HOME MOVIE DAY FAQ
What film formats can I bring to Home Movie Day?
We can inspect and project 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8. If you have any other oddball formats (28mm, 9.5mm, etc.), we can’t project the films for you, but we can help you find a safe, cost-effective way to view these prints. You’ll also earn our undying film nerd envy.
Do I need to bring a home movie?
Nope. You’re welcome to stop by and just watch other people’s home movies. And if you’re a walking encyclopedia of forgotten Chicago landmarks, eateries, and parades, your commentary will be much appreciated!
I have a whole box of ’em! Can we watch ’em all?
Nobody likes a home movie hog. Bring as many films as you’d like, but we’ll be screening one reel from each participant until everyone has had a chance to see their home movies. After that, second helpings are totally fine–especially in Kodachrome.
Do I have to get up and talk about my home movies?
You’re welcome to narrate your home movies and inform everyone that this scene was shot at Aunt Bertha’s high school graduation and that this one was shot on your family trip to Florida in 1982. Or you can just sit in the auditorium and watch them in anonymous silence. Whatever floats your celluloid boat.
Will you take my home movies and never give them back? They’re incredibly precious to me!
Nope. We’ll just inspect and project your home movies and return them to you in comparable condition. (If there are broken perforations or cracked frames, we’ll fix those and return the films in better condition!) Keep in mind that decades-old films are fragile and there’s an inherent (though slight) risk of damage during any projection. If we do not feel that the film can be safely projected, we will not screen it.
Will you take my home movies and never give them back? I don’t want ’em anymore! (They smell funny.)
The Chicago Film Archives would be happy to discuss options for donating your old, unwanted home movies to its ever-growing collection.
This sounds amazing! How much will this expert consultation set me back?
Home Movie Day is absolutely free, but donations are welcome.