Heather Norris Nicholson
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Local lives and communities
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Chapter 5 explores how local life became prominent in amateur cinematic practice and how these informal, unofficial records enrich our understanding of historical change. Films about working lives, notable occasions, and individuals, community events and daily routines connect local and regional experiences to national and global trends, highlight unevenness in patterns of continuity and change, and offer more inclusive narratives of the past beyond the national and metropolitan scale. These stories of community life, endeavour, moments of celebration and commemoration, planned and unexpected changes, made often by insiders familiar with the best vantage points, key contacts, local characters and details offer finely grained and nuanced visual records that augment other historical sources.

Filmmakers approached local matter differently. Some used their cine cameras as visual diaries as they chanced upon subject matter. Others, working alone or on a club production, planned, shot and edited lengthy non-fiction documentaries. Whether self-appointed chroniclers charting newsworthy events, or collaborative team members, amateur filmmakers produced and screened to different audiences footage that now offers unique insights into what made communities and localities distinctive. The making and communal watching of this footage is explored as is its contemporary relevance at community level.

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Amateur film

Meaning and practice, 1927–77


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