October 21st is International Home Movie Day, and our collection here at the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales is a great place to explore a wealth of such films dating from the 1920s onwards. Once upon a time, Home Movies were seen as personal accounts of daily life, and due to their format only viewed by a small number of people, but modern technology has made it so they can be shared. We have recently digitised over seven hundred of the films in our care, many of which are now available to view for free on the BFI Player here. It’s almost like you’re looking through someone’s window, only the window is someone else’s camera lens.
Some of our favourite home movies from this collection include: Baby Marred 1955-1959 – a wonderful film showing the baby growing into a toddler with her loving sister Annes by her side, Branksome, Heathwood Road, Cardiff, a stunningly coloured film depicting life in Cardiff during the Second World War in, and Tiger Bay and The Rainbow Club – II – showing a glimpse of the history of Cardiff’s most famous community, in glorious colour.
Our collection ranges from home movies depicting the deeply personal, to celebrating the wider community. They are all humbling for the care, effort and cost which the filmmaker must have incurred, but most importantly they offer something that is very real and (largely) unedited.
These home movies offer an opportunity for investigation, reflection and hopefully inspiration. Although the method and media has changed drastically in the following years, our drive to capture and share our lives has become – seemingly – evermore insatiable. The home movies of yesteryear recorded on Super 8, projected on living room walls and stored in attics, are now recorded on phones, projected through social media and stored in the cloud. Perhaps one day we will have a department dedicated to preserving Snapchats, Instagrams, Tweets and Facebook live posts of specific interest to Wales and relating to its culture!
Over the Summer, the Archive contributed to a wonderful programme called ‘Wales’s Home Movies’ which was broadcast last Sunday (October 15th) on BBC Wales. It showed personal film footage caught on camera, and interviewed the people that were in the films, who shared stories of the days that had been captured. If you missed it, or would like to view it again, it is available on the BBC iPlayer here until November 14th. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to be inspired (almost) daily by our collection, and you are always welcome to visit us in person at the National Library of Wales to see how we care for these precious films, and safeguard them for future generations.