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.