Main Street Movies: The History of Local Film in the United States

November 1, 2020
Main Street Movies: The History of Local Film in the United States

"See yourself in the movies!"Prior to the advent of the home movie camera and theubiquitousness of the camera phone, there was the local film. Thiscultural phenomenon, produced across the country from the 1890s tothe 1950s, gave ordinary people a chance to be on the silver screenwithout leaving their hometowns. Through these movies, residentscould see themselves in the same theaters where they saw majorHollywood motion pictures. Traveling filmmakers plied their tradein small towns and cities, where these films were received bylocals as being part of the larger cinema experience. With accessto the rare film clips under discussion, Main Street Moviesdocuments the diversity and longevity of local film production andexamines how itinerant filmmakers responded to industry changes tokeep sponsors and audiences satisfied. From town pride films in the1910s to Hollywood knockoffs in the 1930s, local films captured notjust images of local people and places but also ideas about thefunction and meaning of cinema that continue to resonate today.