Dramatic, funny, poignant and even strange, Amateur Night presents 16 amateur films from the collections of American film archives. Piecing together family moments, historical scenes, animation, drama, comic routines and travelogues dating from 1915 to 2005, this groundbreaking compilation demonstrates the eclectic array of entertainment, innovation and enlightenment found in home movies. Featuring films by average Joes alongside notables like Alfred Hitchcock, Richard Nixon, animator Helen Hill and Smokey Bear, Amateur Night adds to the images archival audio, commentaries from family members, and newly-recorded music. Blown-up from the original reels to 35mm, Amateur Night is a feature length big screen journey into the eclectic past of small-gauge filmmaking.
The films chosen highlight some of the preservation efforts that have been undertaken by America’s film archives. The past decade, in particular, has seen a flourishing of collecting, studying and viewing of home movies, particularly by archives that focus on regional media collections. Scholars and filmmakers, in particular, have increasingly gone into the archives to view home movies and amateur films, as a way of understanding American culture and filmmaking in new ways.