The role of amateur footage in archiving and documenting the past has only been recently acknowledged in the Italian media landscape. The article makes a comparative overview of practices of appropriating and re-using amateur heritage in different European countries and in Italy from the 70s onwards, when home movies as audio-visual resources were discovered by television authors and experimental filmmakers. Television programmes and documentary productions based on amateur cinema such as Inédits in Belgium, La vie filmée in France, Familien Kino in Germany and later the European co-production Unknown War are just a few of the earlier examples of productions aimed at re-telling history through unknown and unofficial audio-visual materials. Unlike other European countries, Italy has been confronted with a lack of policies for the collection and preservation of private audio-visual documents, which has impeded the accessibility of this type of material. An early Italian example of a production re-using amateur footage, La nostra vita filmata (RAI, 1986), did not achieve its aim of reconstructing the 20th century history through the lens of private film material and the voice of the amateur authors and witnesses. At the beginning of the new millennium, an increasing interest in amateur footage led to the birth of the Archivio Nazionale del Film di Famiglia (Italian Amateur Film Archive), founded in Bologna by the Home Movies Association in 2002. Two successful later productions re-using amateur footage (Un’ora sola ti vorrei and La bocca del lupo) furthered the enthusiasm in Italy for archiving and accessing amateur film. All of these initiatives have strengthened awareness of the potential of amateur film to represent and recreate the past, using the bottom-up perspective of the eyewitness. This article is a descriptive piece of the different initiatives that have raised awareness of, accessed, and re-used amateur film archives in Italy as well as in other European countries.

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Sound & Vision
VIEW Journal

Simoni, Paolo. (2015). Eyewitnesses of History: Italian Amateur Cinema as Cultural Heritage and Source for Audiovisual and Media Production. VIEW Journal, (. 8), 48–60. doi:10.18146/2213-0969.2015.jethc092