From July 28 through July 30, Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport, Maine is
hosting its 12th Annual Summer Symposium: “Das Wunderkino: A Cinematic Cabinet of Curiosities.” With presentations on peepshow phenomenology, magician/taylor/filmmakers,
laryngoscopes, amateur-made trick films, 1980s Australian youth culture, and
much more, this is a conference that sounds like it will mentally transport participants even farther than the 227 miles it takes to get there from Boston.
grantee Jane Gillooly will be presenting excerpts from her source materials for
The Suitcase of Love and Shame, a
film she’s making using found reel-to-reel audiotapes that document an illicit
love affair between two Midwesterners in the 1960s.
on this year’s theme:
Wunderkammer (German for “the wonder-room” or “the miracle chamber”) was
merely one incarnation of the phenomenon of the “cabinet of curiosities” that
first appeared in Europe in the 16th century. The cabinet of curiosities was
based in the collection of objects, specimens and artifacts that inspired
curiosity and wonder, and sometimes defied the terms classification. In many
ways, the Cabinet of Curiosities was a precursor to the modern museum.
The 2011 Northeast Historic Film (NHF) Summer Symposium revisits
the idea, collecting and displaying the “unusual” with a conference theme aimed
to create a cinematic cabinet of curiosities. Although amateur films are often
conceived of as mundane visual accounts of family vacations and birthday
parties, those scholars, archivists, filmmakers, and documentarians who study
amateur films know otherwise.
The theme of the NHF symposium considers the broad and unusual
dimensions of amateur film: how amateur and non-commercial films are a source
of curiosity and wonder that inspires attention and inquiry, and how amateur
film struggles with the familiar and powerful traditions of cinema studies that
often overshadow our understanding of non-conventional and non-commercial film. Das Wunderkino (“the
wonder-cinema”) represents a desire to examine and discuss moving images that
ignite our curiosity and engagement, and help us to rethink questions of
creativity, the unusual, the bizarre and the unexpected found in amateur and