Every Christmas Eve, my family watches home movies from Christmases past, remembering fondly the year my brother thought he was Luke Skywalker and waved around his new light saber, or the time we built a windsurfer in the living room for my mother.
But by far, everyone's favorite is 1981's "Itchy Butt Christmas," which captures for perpetuity my younger sister's suffering from a nasty bout of diaper rash.
No doubt about it: Home movies are a cultural phenomenon. In recognition of them, film organizations around the world have designated Saturday, August 16, the first-ever Home Movie Day, to celebrate the millions of memories caught on 8-millimeter and 16-millimeter film -- hence the date.
"Home movies are the history of our social culture," says Christopher May, director of the International Experimental Cinema Exposition, known as TIE, and the Rocky Mountain region's Home Movie Day representative. "They depict how we celebrate birthdays and family picnics, what our region looked like when people were wearing beehive hairdos and there were only four buildings downtown."
To mark the day, amateur-film lovers around the world -- from Tokyo to Miami to Toronto -- will be pulling out those clunky old projectors for an artistic trek into the past. But this celebration is for purists only: No digital or video screenings, please. "We're trying to encourage the preservation of celluloid film," explains May. "Once people see and remember how good film looks, they'll appreciate what we're trying to do. Film has 24 tiny little images per second that take active participation of your brain to process; it's an actual physical experience. Video basically just turns your brain to mush."
At a free celebration sponsored by TIE, local movie buffs can show off their favorite family flicks at Fusion Point Studios in Colorado Springs. Starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday, TIE will try to show every film brought in, with priority given to movies made in or relating to Colorado.
"We can't guarantee that we're going to get to everyone's films, but we're sure going to try," says May. "It's catching on more than I ever thought it would. It's really becoming quite a big deal, worldwide."
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