BUCKSPORT — Northeast Historic Film has announced that Tara Merenda Nelson, curator of Moving Image Collections at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York, has been awarded the 2019 annual research fellowship. The William O’Farrell Fellowship is awarded each year to an individual to conduct research at NHF toward a publication, production or presentation based on moving image history and culture. The O’Farrell Fellowship is sponsored by Jim Lindner, a friend of Bill O’Farrell as well as a long-time mentor, and supporter of the archives.
During her fellowship, Nelson will view numerous amateur film collections held at NHF.
Her research is centered around the practice of amateur filmmakers presenting their ‘home movies’ to larger audiences as a way to share their experiences within larger social circles within the community. Nelson will use the Northeast Historic Film collections to conduct research into 8mm and Super 8 home movies that may have had public screenings for the purpose of education and cultural enhancement within the filmmakers’ extended community. She will develop a better understanding how social and civic institutions such as libraries, Rotary Clubs, church congregations and public schools would invite individuals from the community who had recently travelled with a movie camera to present their films to a larger audience, often with a live narration or an introductory speech before the film. Nelson’s thesis is that this practice is one of the earliest forms of social media, as it provided the opportunity for an individual to exhibit privately produced media to a larger audience outside of their ‘first circle’ of friends and family.
It is expected that the results of Nelson’s research will be presented at NHF’s 2020 Summer Symposium. For the last 20 years, NHF’s Summer Symposium has been held in July at the Alamo Theatre in Bucksport. For more information about Northeast Historic Film, the Summer Symposium or the William O’Farrell Fellowship please visit www.oldfilm.org.