Frame enlargement: Camp Runoia Collection; Palermo Historical Society Collection, Milton Dowe home movies; Charles Gilbert Collection


Barbara Manning 
Northeast Historic Film 
(207) 469-0924 


Thursday July 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM EDT
Saturday July 30, 2011 at 5:00 PM EDT

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Northeast Historic Film, Bucksport Maine 



2011 Summer Film Symposium Das Wunderkino: A Cinematic Cabinet of Curiosities 

Die 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 non-commercial films. We invite papers and presentations that will collectively assemble a “cinematic cabinet of curiosities” that will inform and expand our understanding of the wildness and weirdness of amateur film.

The NHF Summer Symposium is a multi-disciplinary gathering devoted to the history, theory, and preservation of amateur and nontheatrical moving images. The Symposium is noted for bringing together archivists, scholars, and artists in an intimate setting.