Samira’s Presentation: Peter Forgacs


Here are some parts of Peter Forgacs’s article on home movies, “Witgenstein Tractatus”.

-The Private film is an imptint of culture rewritten by a motion picture that has a certain self-reflective impact on the overall face of culture. One of the sources of understanding for family films lies within the context of screening-specifically the role of narration or commentaries offered up by the family while viewing the films: “This is me, that is him,” “This happened then, and that happened then,” “Now we see this and this,” “How happy we were at that time”. Spontaneous comments that, in effect, constitute the metanarration.

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-The context of both filming and screening define the relationship of the operator and the spectator. The maker of a home movie acts as the narrator, in the manner that recalls that of the silent film. The private filmmaker comments on the phenomena taking place on the film, identifying the people, subjects, and topics presented. In addition, the filmmaker him/herself often will have structures the material beforehand by editing or subtitling that does not necessarily follow the linear process of time. The “dramaturgy of private film,” then, often includes unplanned forms and random sequences, event shifts of time. Awareness of this attributive meaning in the sphere of home movies is important for our understanding of them. The spectator is “guided into” the private context.

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-The home movies or private film, not unlike the letter and diary, is biographical. It is one of the most adequate means of rememberance. It is a mediation on “who am I?” The original context of the private film is the home screening rite, the celebration of the times past, of recollection, and of hints of the nonverbal realm of communication and symbols. It is a recollection of the desired, intimate vision ephemeral mments, landscapes, and rites. The mediation inspired by these screenings is: What has been revealed by making visible that which had remained imperceptible before?

-The average private filmmaker shoots things that are “worth filming,” that is, subjects that are important, beautiful, interesting, and funny. However, what is it that defines something as important, beautiful, interesting, or funny? The consensus of these notions and criteria rests on ever-changing pillars of individual and cultural meanings.

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-Of the many things that happen in human life. Most are not “suitable”, not “fit” for the filming. It is not necessarily the costs of filming that account for the “missing images”, but most probably what is considered taboo. While marriages on film are many, a home movie will never feature divorce or abuse, aberration, or aggression. The number of missing pictures is endless.

-From the very beginning, silent films have featured and element of “over acting” by mimicry and gestures. The melodramatic performance of the characters in amateuw films, in addition to their “natural” behavior, was influenced by silent films. The home movie until the audio dubbing of super 8mm and regular 8mm films kept alive the tradition of silent film acting, along with the intertitles of the early cinema. The main difference is that people in home movies represent, “act” themselves.
Beyond ego representation, the amateur film provide a kind od imprint of the codes of behavior of age, hierarchy within the family, and gender.

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-The “real” and the “performed” act is twofold on the home movie. Our many different roles exemplify the separation and interrelation of our public and private lives.

-Private film equals private history. Private history is a challenge for interpretation and invited new explanation as we seek to establish logic by our knowledge of culture and history. Our interpretations create a new context that can be independent and completely different from the intentions of the original filmmaker. Any like story is a series of fortuitous events, which later the home movie presents as a comprehensible and “logical” life story.


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