What is a Home movie?

This paper is more of an internal search of defining home movies. Home movies to me are defined as things filmed to create memories and make something last throughout history. Home movies are different from other documentaries because of the subject and how it is treated, such as we see in the movies Nobody’s Business and Stories we tell. The rest of this paper will argue why these two movies are a repertoire of home movies rather than other modes of documentary. I will explore the what is a home movie, and why it is a home movie.

We read in Mining the Home Movie a description of a home movie. It gives definitions such as private filmmaking which is not intended to be distributed. To this I argue the television show AFV. AFV is a television show that takes home movies and presents them in a humorous tone. In the same reading we read that home movies are things “worth filming”. And to a certain extent I believe this. People film, or take pictures of only memories that they want to relive. There is also argument against that, though. We read in another reading for the class titled Remaking Home Movies that the home movies the author found were antiquated. She didn’t like them because they were really a heightened version of her life which she believed wasn’t true. This is interesting because if all we record are memorable moments, then we never really see the true self of any film. Richard Fung then goes on to say that he recreates all of the memories in his life so he can show his reality. This causes the argument, is that not real because of its more narrative direction? I don’t think that we will ever be able to define that. But there is something to creating memories of your life that is included into what a home movie is.

So why are the films Nobody’s Business and Stories We Tell home movies? Well, we have to look at the motives behind the filmmaker, ultimately. Usually one films their kids or their loved ones to preserve a moment in history. I remember last semester in one of my classes watching a small animation of people who go around and record (audio) of people and their stories. They said that this preserved their stories. The people in charge of the recording talked about how they recorded their grandparents on a tape recorder (home recording) and now that they are gone, the more valuable the tapes have become. I think this applies with the talking head interviews. Most of the movies we watched had something in common, the people in the movies interviewed were old. I think the preserving of their stories is why I would count Nobody’s Business and Stories We Tell could be considered home movies. The fact that something is professionally done is a void conversation. The reason being that I know a photographer (professional), and all of his pictures are of his family in moments in time.

In the end, I really think that a home movie is based on the intent of the author and the audience. Nobody’s Business for example could have been made to preserve this father and his quirkiness. Or the author could have used the film to show the world his father’s quirks. Maybe it is a mixture of both. I guess this means that the conclusion of this paper, even after talking about the what and the why of home movies, doesn’t have a good ending because of its ambiguity.


Nobody’s Business. 1996. DVD.


Stories We Tell. Dir. Sarah Polley. Perf. Micheal Polley. National Film Board of Canada, 2012. DVD.


Ishizuka, Karen L., and Patricia Rodden. Zimmermann. Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories. Berkeley: U of California, 2008. Print.


Listening Is an Act of Love. Dir. Rauch Brothers. YoutTube. The Corperation for Public Broadcasting, 28 Nov. 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rgJRzz_zHo>.

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