June 03, 2020
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Book award for film archives work, ‘Amateur Movie Making: Aesthetics of the Everyday’

Community Author: David S. Weiss
Post Date:
karan sheldon | BDN
karan sheldon | BDN

BUCKSPORT — The moving image collections at Northeast Historic Film in Bucksport have just been recognized in connection with the 2018 Best Edited Collection book award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies (the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to the study of film, television, and related media).

The prestigious book award for “Amateur Movie Making: Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film, 1915-1960”, edited by Martha J. McNamara and Karan Sheldon, was announced at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies’ annual conference in March in Toronto.

The award committee noted that the book, which centers on film collections from the nonprofit archives Northeast Historic Film, “is an impressively-curated volume and a productive collaboration between film historians, filmmakers, and archivists….The book not only expands our scholarly understanding of amateur films, but it also informs the public about the urgent need to preserve these films and the complex issues associated with such preservation.”

With a dozen authors contributing to the anthology, several are Maine professors: Libby Bischof, Professor of History at the University of Southern Maine, and Justin Wolff, Associate Professor of History at the University of Maine; Maine authors contributing personal essays are Jennifer Neptune, a member of the Penobscot Nation and Executive Director for the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, and writer and editor Martha White. Co-editor Martha J. McNamara, Director of the New England Arts and Architecture Program in the Department of Art at Wellesley College, served on the board of Northeast Historic Film and was a member of the History Department at the University of Maine. Co-editor Karan Sheldon is cofounder of Northeast Historic Film. Sheldon is pleased at the crossover nature of the book; the award committee’s citation states that the “focus on the everyday aspects of the material culture of the past along with its highly accessible and engaging writing will appeal to experts and non-experts alike.”

Amateur Movie Making is built on contributions from the creators and family members responsible for making and saving the home movies and amateur films. Northeast Historic Film’s executive director, David S. Weiss, notes, “Several generations of talented staff identified the works that are discussed in this wonderful book. They invested thousands of hours in cleaning, repairing and transferring the 16mm and 8mm reels now in cold storage. We’re immensely grateful for the survival of these works of personal expression.”

Weiss notes the close cooperation among Northeast Historic Film’s Technical Services Department and manager Joe Gardner, working with the book’s authors and the press.  Indiana University Press published the book on paper, as an ebook, and as an enhanced ebook with embedded video available on several platforms.  Northeast Historic Film maintains a website with video access to the works discussed at www.oldfilm.org/amm.


David S. Weiss, Northeast Historic Film, Bucksport, Maine 207 469-0924. david@oldfilm.org