My amateur film collection began with a few rolls of film I found in my late grandfather's attic. I found his scripts, his studies, his cameras, viewing, editing and sound recording equipment. Up to that point I knew nothing about my grandfather's film work. He was basically a classic "amateur filmmaker" who, as a respected professor at the university, shot the educational films for his students himself and edited them at home in the bedroom and provided them with subtitles.
Later I got the opportunity to work in the technical department of Filmarchiv Austria as part of a large-scale project to rescue and archive Austrian amateur film heritage. The variety of amateur films that I saw and still see during digitization and restoration allows unexpected insights into the lives of our ancestors. This activity has inspired me to continue my research in a private setting, also in the context of my other projects and to expand my own collection.
"Amateur" is another word for dilettante these days, tending towards an expression of contempt. At that time, an amateur was someone who did an activity not professionally, but out of passion and without commercial ulterior motives. Being part of an amateur (film) club was a sign of a serious interest in learning technical perfection, perhaps also as a mouthpiece to be able to convey one's own topics. For this very reason, the works of amateurs from all areas of art and craft are extremely honest, mostly lovingly designed and sometimes so provocative that a professional could not allow themselves to be.
Familyportraits? Holidaytrips? Weddings? Trainstations, constructions, streetlife? What may seem uninteresting or even ridiculous at first glance, actually can reveal unseen clues about our origins and identity on closer inspection.
The history books tell a story that is condensed and graded in importance. Someone decided what to put in bold and what to mention in passing. Someone has done research, drawn their conclusions and put the knowledge they have gained on paper as carefully as possible.
The moving image of privatcollections is direct, honest and uninterpreted. Amateurfilm shows everyday life in all its nudity. The tales of the amateurs and enthusiasts, captured in a familiar environment and with loving devotion on valuable small film, tell a completely different aspect of history.
These documents tell of the soul of society, which led its own life apart from the well-documented political and cultural highlights. One could say that the study of amateur film rewrites and re-enacts history.
The amateur film archive is part of the assosiation Cultureambulance which contains a steadily growing archive of analog media and devices. It regularly uses or makes available exhibits and material for exhibitions and research projects.