venerdì 31 luglio 2009

Sides Of Paradise

I often feel I'm just a shy girl who hide herself under memories instead of looking forward to new days, but I just can't help. Bygone eras, old houses and found photos are things I like in a very personal way. And not surprisingly I have a thing for home movies too.

I have a lot of photos of my family

but sadly there's no trace of their home movies. I didn't grow up surrounded by moving images of my dears and I developed an interest in this kind of films only when I started studying cinema. This is an interesting thing: I came to home movies - something which is rarely considered cinema - through a very "institutional channel"!

Home videos often skip the technical issues, they don't bother, it's not their purpose but the real big thing about them is that even if they are just a mere showcase of everyday lives of an unknown family you can read them as a proof of something bigger. You just have to change the perspective.

Visual artists, documentary filmaker and experimental directors have often worked on family images, deconstructing and recontextualizing them, reediting, manipulating, taking apart and putting them back together. Subverting their own mechanism. Mending the pieces, indeed.

Looking back at their work, at home movies frames, I can't say if there is a symbolism in everyday life of if it's everyday life that lies beneath symbolism.

Also, I can't stop thinking about the strong connection between home movies and death. Here I'm thinking of italian filmaker Alina Marazzi's first beautiful work, Un'ora sola ti vorrei (international title: For One More Hour With You), a patchwork of old family videos, diary entries and recordings which try to reconstruct the life of her mother, who passed away after years of psychiatric disease, in 1972, when Alina was only seven years old.

You can watch the movie (fragmented...) on You Tube (it's in italian, though).

But I'm also thinking of Kennedy family home movies. Those happy summers are pictured in our collective imagery as a document of an era, a cultural product. Once again something that goes beyond a basic series of pictures.

Beyond the videos above, I can't avoid to mention Jonas Mekas's This Side Of Paradise: Fragments of an Unfinished Biography; a little gem I was lucky enough to see some years ago.

Here's Mekas himself talking about his movie:

"Unpredictably, as most of my life's key events have been, for a period of several years in the early '60s and early '70s, I had the fortune to spend some time, mostly during the summers, with Jackie Kennedy's and her sister Lee Radziwill's families and children. Cinema was an integral, inseparable, as a matter of fact, a key part of our friendship. The time was still very close to the untimely, tragic death of John F. Kennedy. Jackie wanted to give something to her children to do, to help to ease the transition, life without a father. (...) The images in this film, with a few exceptions, all come from the summers Caroline and John Jr. spent in Montauk, with their cousins Anthomy and Tina Radziwill, in an old house Lee had rented from Andy Wharol for a few summers. (...) These were summers of happiness, joy and continuous celebrations of life and friendship. These were days of Little Fragments of Paradise."

Memories and loss of memories, presence and absence, life and death of the classic American Dream are fundamental elements in this film in which there's no voice over.
Just laughs and the sounds of waves that come and go.

12 commenti:

Anonimo ha detto...

Your family photos are wonderful. I, too, adore looking through pictures of my family, past and present. They are absolutely priceless to me. Thank you for such a moving post! =)

Poke Salad Annie ha detto...

this is a fascinating post. i'm gonna watch those movies as soon as i finish work!

Ariella ha detto...

Lovely family photos. I could look at family photos for hours.

Rachel C. ha detto...

i don't really think of you as a person who hides behind memories, but more of a girl who really cherishes her history - and that's a good thing!


Anonimo ha detto...

Your family photos are so wonderful! Photos are so fascinating! It's so much fun looking at family photos! :)

Stephanie Kim ha detto...

i love the textures of the photographs! so different from today!

The Clothes Horse ha detto...

I love home movies. Maybe it is just the documentation of everyday life that makes it special? I wish my family had old home movies as well...I don't even have a full photo album of baby pictures--my parents said they got bored with photographing the third daughter! ;)

trishiekoh ha detto...

Love the family photos. one of my favourite things to do is look through old photos too.

catherine_sr. ha detto...

What an amazing, thoughtful post! My parents immigrated to the States from Taiwan in the late 1970s and because of that old family pictures have always been scarce around my home. It's always so moving to go to relatives' home and see photos of my parents when they were kids.

Amelia ha detto...

I love looking through old family albums from the 50s and 60s. Thanks for sharing the Kennedy home videos. The Kennedys have always fascinated me.

L'armadio del delitto ha detto...

Che bel post! Che belle foto di famiglia che hai! Anche le video dei Kennedy sono incantevoli.

PinkBow ha detto...

i love collecting old photographs of my parents, i have so many around my home, the styling from those days is just amazing! we do have some cine film which we need to get transferred to dvd - that would be amazing. good post, i had forgotten about the film!