Wunderkino: Polavision, Operation Ditty, and the Avant-Garde


Northeast Historic Film, Bucksport, Maine, USA

July 26-28 2012

Amazing and extraordinary studies of amateur and non-theatrical films is what the organizers of Wunderkino asked for, and they have now announced what they got.

Northeast Historic Film, based in Bucksport, Maine, promises a varied, diverting selection of presentations at its annual gathering, ones that offer lessons about culture, heritage, history, geography, performance, and the drama and comedy of social life.

A wunderkino can be glossed as a “wonder-cinema” or “cabinet of cinematic curiosities,” a collection of moving images that projects its maker’s curiosities and personality. (See earlier MIAN’s articles, here, and here.)

That is what the list of successful presentation proposals looks like – a curious and compelling sampling of engagements with amateur and non-commercial films that strike the fancy and fascination of NHF curators, members, and conference-goers.

A still from Susan Patrick's "The Adventures of The Girls from Ditty" (1967), in which school-girl detective-spies maintain world peace and security, as they are wont to do. The Ditty Girls thwart an international incident and potential revolution by rescuing a princess from the clutches of the evil Mysterious Cult of the Black Mushroom. (Click image, if you dare.)
Wunderkino is a much-admired, multi-disciplinary gathering of devotees of moving-image history, theory, and preservation. For over a decade, it has brought together archivists, scholars, and artists in an intimate setting for three days of viewing and discussing lesser-known, amateur, and found films.

The event takes place at Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport, a town of 5,000 on the coast of Maine.

The program for this year’s event will feature these presentations:

Destination Japan: Japan in Cherry Blossom Time and Japan as Seen From a Rickshaw (1928-31) – Joanne Bernardi, Modern Languages and Cultures Department & Film and Media Studies Program, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Travel Lecture Filmmaking in the Post-War Era – Liz Czach, Department of English and Film Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Betty Friedan, at home
Betty Friedan at Home – Melissa Dollman, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

28mm: One Hundred Years Later and Still Too Big for the Living Room, Too Small for the Theatre – Dino Everett, Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Science Non-Fiction: Space Footage Appropriation in Avant Garde Cinema – Leo Goldsmith, Department of Cinema Studies, New York University, New York City, NY

Lost in Transmission: Distribution, Access, and Online Collecting of Amateur Media – Dan Mauro, Department of Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas, Austin, TX

Have one of these in your closet? Polavision: Polaroid's worst business strategem ever, short of shutting up shop. Haul yours out and put it on eBay and it might fetch you, oh, about sixpence-ha'penny.
Cine-Kids: Exploring the Past and Present of Youth Media Production – David Cooper Moore, Department of Broadcasting, Telecommunication and Mass Media, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; and Renee Hobbs, Harrington School of Communication and Media, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI

Dissecting Ditty: The Making of Operation Ditty – Taylor Whitney, Preserving the Past, Rochester, NY; and Susan Patrick, Archives and Special Collections, Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

Grace Moore Home Movies – Crystal Sanchez, Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York City, NY

Polavision: A Failed Amateur Technology – Graeme Spurr, School of Culture and Creative Arts, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Zoe Beloff: Performing the Archive – Artemis Willis, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

The Regional Avant-Garde: Yet Another Archival Agenda – Steven J. Wurtzler, Cinema Studies, Colby College, Waterville, ME

For registration and inquiries, visit Northeast Historic Film’s website.

Categories: Features

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