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Amateur Cinema Summer Viewing

While working on the Amateur Movie Database (AMDB), our researchers have located quite a few extant films in archives, some of which have been digitized and made publicly available online. These films give us a rare glimpse into the amateur world of filmmaking and allow us to appreciate the final product of clubs and amateur moviemakers worldwide. Many have also received recognition from organizations or competitions such as the Amateur Cinema League or The Photographic Society of America’s Ten Best contests.

Amateur movies in the AMDB are distinct from home movies and were produced outside of the commercial, Hollywood industry. Genres range from science to nature films, travelogues, comedies, dramas, and everything in between.

Enjoy our summer selection of amateur movies below which highlight some inviting locations that will leave you with a bit of nostalgia or have you itching for that summer vacation.

Chicago: City to See in 63’ from Chicago Film Archives

Chicagoan Margaret Conneely was a prolific amateur filmmaker who was active in amateur film culture both at home and abroad. Many of her films are included in our database and are available online for viewing. Chicago, City to See in 63’ is a “city symphony” that pokes fun at commercial travel films. It was preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the Women’s Film Preservation Fund.

Fishing for the Sacred Cod in Maine from Northeast Historic Film

Fishing for the Sacred Cod by Ernest G. Stillman is a late 1920s film about - you guessed it - fishing in Maine. While the average Joe’s cod haul might not be as large or impressive as shown in the film, viewers will be able to appreciate the film’s depiction of Maine’s fishing activities.

The Great Sea Resort: White Rock from The White Rock Museum & Archives

Watch some footage from British Columbia’s Semiahmoo Bay where “business leaders find pleasure and happiness” and Canadians and Americans meet. This colourful film by Charles Cowles shows a wide array of summer activities with people of all ages participating in sporting events, recreational activities and just plain having fun.

San Francisco from The Prelinger Archives

Tullio Pellegrini’s incredible cinemascope film showcases a vibrant San Francisco in the 1950s. Complete with sound, this amateur film includes a visit to city’s major attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, winding Lombard Street and the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Skyscraper Symphony from The National Film Preservation Foundation

Robert Florey’s Skyscraper Symphony is an avant-garde city symphony film of Manhattan and its architecture. The montage of buildings scored with string instruments invites viewers to appreciate New York’s geometrical patterns.