OLD TOWN — Film and Chicago history enthusiasts are in for a feast Saturday, as home movies ranging from experimental teenage shots from the '70s to amateur-shot footage from the World's Fair will be shown at the Chicago History Museum.
Home Movie Day is celebrating its 10th year in Chicago at the museum, where guests will be able to have their old reels of 16 mm, 8 mm and Super 8 projected on the big screen.
In the past, some of the reels brought in have included a quirky film shot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, a 1960s family Christmas and Kodachrome film showing brilliantly preserved color footage of Chicago from the '50s.
"The thing that is so moving about Home Movie Day is how alive the past looks," said Becca Hall, executive director of the Northwest Chicago Film Society. "It’s really kind of mesmerizing. It’s a window into the past."
Experts will be on hand to inspect and, if needed, mend home movies that attendees might have found sitting in a dusty old attic before projecting them onto the screen.
The event is free and will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a curated viewing at 2 p.m.
For the first year, the creators of the event will be spotlighting footage from Bronzeville and Ravenswood Manor offering a peek into the past of the two historic neighborhoods.
Personal home movies from the Ralph Metcalfe Collection will be projected during the event.
The son of Metcalfe, a Bronzeville native who medaled in the 1932 and 1936 summer Olympics, supplied his home videos depicting scenes from 1957 inside the Third Ward Office, mid-century track and field events, a 1959 visit to Chicago by Queen Elizabeth II and a 1961 bake sale inside Chicago's first African-American private school.
"It’s always just nice to put home movies on a pedestal as an important cultural document of everyone's lives, everyone's past," said Anne Wells, collections manager for the Chicago Film Archives.
The experimental Super 8 footage spotlighting Ravenswood Manor was discovered "through the grapevine," according to Wells, and shows a batch of teenage boys lighting stuff on fire, asking strangers on the street weird questions and hosting band practices in a wood-paneled basement.
Unlike most of the home movies, those will include audio because of the Super 8 technology.
For home movies that come in without audio, the event will feature a piano player providing a fitting accompaniment.
The surprise of the day will be scenes shot during the 1933 World's Fair.
"They are surprisingly in amazing shape," Wells said.
That footage will be shown during the curated viewing.
"The biggest struggle is trying to get people who were there in the heyday of home movies in the '50s and '60s to care about it because they will be like 'Why would someone want to see my home movies?'" Hall said.