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Home Movie Day puts amateurs on the silver screen Add to ...

Gone are the days when having to sit through hours of home movies was considered a dreadful endeavour.

Today, those dusty 8-mm and 16-mm reels filling attic cupboards will unspool anew as part of worldwide Home Movie Day. In Toronto, residents are invited to submit home movies for public viewing at TIFF Bell Lightbox or The Monkey's Paw bookstore on Dundas Street West.

“I think a lot of us have taken our audio-visual heritage for granted, but the tides are turning,” said Julie Lofthouse, an archivist at TIFF's Film Reference Library. “The home-movie movement is gathering a niche right now and people are looking back at the nostalgia,” she said.

Beyond the nostalgia, however, is an opportunity to see Toronto's evolution, much of it on Kodachrome, a colour-rich process which no longer exists. Previous editions held at TIFF have uncovered images of the Dufferin Gates at the CNE before their demolition in 1956. “Another film showed a helicopter installing the top of the CN Tower, a very iconic moment,” said Ms. Lofthouse, who joined TIFF in 2004.

As for the streets of Toronto the Good, submissions have revealed bright and colourful neon signs at night as well as bygone milestones, such as the Stanley Cup being paraded in the back of a convertible down College Street after the Maple Leafs last championship in 1967.

Home Movie Day organizers also hope to educate the public in proper film-handling methods. “You need to know the condition of your film before projecting it,” added Ms. Lofthouse, who recounted an incident where a seemingly interesting 8-mm film could not be projected because its perforations were torn after a home-screening attempt gone wrong. “Know when to call in the professionals. We do a physical hand inspection and a report card on the film's condition,” she said.

At The Monkey's Paw, owner Stephen Fowler spoke as he thumbed through an old Mark Twain leaflet. “The films are different from books because they rely on technology. A book I can see just by opening it, but nobody has the projectors any more.”

Mr. Fowler, who is hosting the event for a third year on behalf of the Home Movie History Project, adds the films might be “even be more obscure than books, because they're technologically trapped within themselves.”

Home Movie Day at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King St. W)

Inspections and screenings begin at noon, Oct. 15

Gauges: 16 mm, 8 mm & Super 8

Home Movie Day at The Monkey's Paw Antiquarian Bookshop (1229 Dundas St. W.)

Screenings: 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (home-movie repair clinic from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.), Oct. 15

Gauges: 16 mm, 8 mm & Super 8

Both events are free.

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