European Film Clubs in the long 1960s
Ambitious Amateurs is part of the research collaboration PopKult60 Transnational Popular Culture – Europe in the long 1960s undertaken jointly at the University of Luxembourg and the Saarland University (2018-2022).
This PhD project aims to investigate popular culture through the lens of participatory socio-cultural practices of amateur film clubs, focusing on the area of the future Greater Region (Wallonia/BE, Lorraine/FR, Saarland/DE and Luxembourg) in the long 1960s.
In the decades immediately following World War II, there was a major surge of amateur film making, due to technical development in mobile cameras, projectors and film material and a decrease in price of the aforementioned equipment. In addition to home movie making, the newfound accessibility led to a wave of newly founded amateur film clubs and soaring membership rates during this period. Film making turned from an elitist leisure time activity of the upper class to a popular middle-class hobby.
Across Europe amateur film associations collectively purchased, or occasionally developed and tuned equipment, and spent an important part of their free time socialising, working on film projects or competing in local, national and international amateur film championships. The social life of these clubs went largely beyond film making and included excursions, frequent gatherings and public parties or film soirées. The study is interested in how these clubs functioned, interacted and were perceived by their members. The appropriation of social and cultural norms, politics, (popular) culture, religion, (auto) censorship, Europeanisation- or Americanisation processes will be examined through an analysis of productions, aesthetics, narratives as well as practices.
A Grounded Theory approach serves to develop hypotheses on the base of the accessible sources: amateur film productions in different small gauge formats (partly digitized), administrative documents, specialized and general press articles, publications addressed to amateur filmmakers, personal memorabilia, technical artefacts and Oral History interviews.