Family archives unveiled


Long before the social media homemade films were made and shown to a small circle of friends and relatives in the confinement of our homes. Some of these films disappeared for good. But others made it to the Lisbon Videothek, an Institution that has preserved them and is now showing some of them in a festival this weekend under the name Traça.

If you take to the surrounding area of the Castle in Lisbon this weekend you will be surprised at the amount of moving images depicting weddings, christenings, summer holidays, uprisings and shop openings being shown there. Traça is the name of a festival taking place at Rua do Recolhimento and where homemade movies from its archives will be shown. Some of the images will be blurred and some of these movies will merely report family occasions. But they will be shown for a reason. Every picture and every movie tells a story and by showing them the Lisbon Videothek will be helping us understand the story of a place, city or family and even the contexts and the roles of men and women in society in a particular period. Fátima Tomé, one of the organisers of this festival recalls a curious fact: “most of these films show the mother and their kids and were filmed by the husband. What we realised by analysing these films is that in most of them what we have is the father’s, the man’s perspective”, she says. Women did not often operate these machines by then, not until Kodak recognised that there could be a potential niche. “When Super 8 was launched the advertising campaign showed that women could also operate these cameras”, Fátima adds.


Not all of these films, mostly in 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 formats, report family occasions. Some of them report important periods in the history of Portugal like the arrival of soldiers from the war in the colonies, uprisings and current issues at the time when they were filmed. The amount of films part of the Lisbon Videothek is huge and more keep coming. Some of them are perfectly identified and we know the names of the filmmaker and the people in it. But others have landed there without any record. In order to better understand the context where these films were made and the people in it this Lisbon institution has been trying to trace these people via Facebook and other platforms. Should you recognise a person or a situation in a film displayed at the Traça festival please inform the Videothek.


Appropriation of the memory of others” is a further theme in this festival and under this scope theatre, video and performances by three important artists will presented here and created from images from family archives. And you probably never guessed that the home movie made by your father or grandfather would be used by a renowned movie director in your country. But that’s precisely what you will see this weekend when seven Portuguese movie directors will show what they have come up with the images made available. This festival is just the starting point of a number of initiatives that will take you down memory lane. After this weekend’s festival a number of events are planned bringing us close to the confinement of our homes, the usual place where these movies were shared as it happened in partnership with the association Condominium when some of these movies were shown in private homes open to the public in a cosier atmosphere.

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