Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at 7:30pm
Reconstructing the 1938 International Amateur Movie Show

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Introduced by Charles Tepperman

The widespread organization of amateur moviemakers in the United States began in the late 1920s, following soon after the introduction of the 16mm film format in 1923. The Amateur Cinema League was formed in 1926 and magazines such as Photoplay, American Cinematographer, and Movie Makers were soon sponsoring amateur movie contests. By the early 1930s, these publications increasingly boasted of the high aesthetic quality and international scope of the films among their award-winners.

The original “International Amateur Movie Show” took place at McMillin Theatre, Columbia University in New York on April 6, 1938. It was the last installment of a twenty-screening series devoted to the art of motion pictures, coordinated by Columbia’s Extension program in Film Study. The amateur show was curated by Duncan MacD. Little, a New York insurance broker and amateur filmmaker who had been organizing an annual “Movie Party” since 1929. By the mid-1930s these annual screenings had become a significant event that attracted audiences of several hundred people. Little organized the International Show by putting out a call to amateur movie organizations around the world and inviting them to submit their best films for the screening. The result was a selection of ten films from nine different countries.

On view in the lineup are a wide range of subjects and approaches to amateur filmmaking, from travel chronicles to polished fictional works to experimental anti-war films. The films also present different production modes: some are by individual filmmakers, others are collective or club efforts. Three of the original ten were color films. Some of the titles were previous winners in the American Cinematographer amateur movie contests, while others were lauded in Europe or elsewhere. Such films, with their genre variety and global breadth, would have stood in stark contrast to the Hollywood fare presented in commercial movie theaters at the time, and illustrate a fascinating if underappreciated chapter in the history of alternative film culture.

This program presents six of the ten films originally shown in 1938; it was first presented in January, 2018 at the Bell Lightbox (Toronto) in collaboration with TIFF Higher Learning.

- CT

To the Ships of Sydney, James A. Sherlock, 1936, Australia, color, silent, digital projection, 15 mins
Preserved by National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Mount Zao, Khoji Tsukamoto, 1937, Japan, b&w, silent, digital projection, 15 mins
Preserved by East Anglian Film Archive

Fourth in Hand: A Fantasy of the Card Table, Meteor Film Producing Society, 1936, Scotland, b&w, silent, digital projection, 20 mins
Preserved by National Library of Scotland Moving Image Archive

Příběh vojáka / A Soldier’s Story, Čeněk Zahradníček and Vladimír Šmejkal, 1935, Czechoslovakia, b&w, silent, digital projection, 8 mins
Preserved by Czech National Film Archive

Gloire à l’eau, Albert Tessier, 1935/50, Canada, color, silent, digital projection, 10 mins
Preserved by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

Bommerli, Richard Groschopp, 1936, Germany, b&w, sound, digital projection, 15 mins
Preserved by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv

Charles Tepperman is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Media and Film at the University of Calgary. He is the author of Amateur Cinema: The Rise of North American Moviemaking, 1923-1960, and Project Director of the Amateur Movie Database, an online resource launched to chronicle the history of amateur moviemaking in North America. To date, AMDB has compiled information about more than 1,600 amateur films in addition to several hundred moviemakers and local movie clubs, and its researchers are working to locate amateur films in archives and make them more accessible to audiences through curated screening programs.

Tickets - $8, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.