Be it ever so humble, the home movie is making a big comeback.
Vintage 8-mm and Super 8 family films -- once considered boring and dreaded on visits to the neighbors' house -- will be getting a fresh look and new respect at the Cinema Arts Centre's annual Home Movie Day on Oct. 17.
Far from dull, even the most amateurish productions are being re-evaluated as "the raw material of history," worthy of inclusion in the Library of Congress, says Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the Huntington theater. They are "a window into the past" and "a document that can't be replaced," he says. Cinema Arts Centre is the only Long Island venue participating in a worldwide celebration of the genre during October, according to the Baltimore-based Center for Home Movies.
To attract more entries, for the first time, equipment will also be provided to play VHS videotapes. Films in 16 mm are also eligible.
Blast from the past
Last year, 15 Long Islanders brought in vintage reels from family weddings, vacations, birthday parties and other gatherings. "There was amazing footage of a church social from the 1950s in College Point, Queens, and of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before the hipsters," Skolnick says.
Marvin Kantorowitz, 84, of Plainview, a projectionist at the Plainview Library, became emotional upon seeing friends and relatives in his own 8-mm film, which he made as a child growing up in the Bronx. "It shakes you up because you just can't believe that so much time has passed," he says. "They have not been with you for all these years and you see them on the screen the way they were."
This year, he plans to contribute chestnuts from his home collection of about 30 films, including amateur travelogues from years of globe-trotting to places like Israel and Belgium.
The Reel World
You don't need to be a sprocket scientist to participate, according to Skolnick. It doesn't matter if your home movies are in poor condition, or contain camerawork or lighting that would make Steven Spielberg shake his head. If films are in bad condition, you can drop them off before Saturday for a dry run through a projector and a professional splicing job.
They'll be shown on high-quality projectors "that are kind to film," Skolnick says. One film from each contributor will be shown, and a second if there is enough time. Cinema experts will teach you preservation techniques and how to back up originals by transferring them to video.
Home Movie Bingo
Even if you don't have a flick to flaunt, just sit back, watch the show, and enjoy the free eats, including treats provided by Danyell's Kitchen of Northport and pastry from Reinwald's Bakery in Huntington.
You can also play Cinema Arts Centre's first installment of Home Movie Bingo. Filmgoers will be given bingo cards with boxes listing details such as "miniskirt" or "mustache." If you see one of those details in a home movie, check off the box. Check off five in a row to win the game and a gift certificate from a local business.
WHEN | WHERE Saturday, Oct. 17 at 11 a.m., Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington
INFO Free; 631-423-7611, cinemaartscentre.org