Amateur cinema from the State of Rio de Janeiro

LUPA follows the definition of amateur cinema as defined by the Amateur Cinema Studies Network (ACSN), which considers amateur films as moving images that evoke every aspect of life in society, past and present, produced in all formats and media and not originally intended for distribution to professional audiovisual outlets.

According to this definition, amateur cinema encompasses not only student films made in the UFF Film School – generally intended for screening in the university, film clubs, exhibitions or festivals – but also films made by any amateur filmmaker. This way, LUPA turns its lens not only to the university but to the world outside, revealing its focus not only on research but also on extension activities.

In keeping with its dedication to amateur or semi-professional cinema, LUPA has focused mainly on the so-called narrow-gauge films, such as 9.5mm, 8mm, Super 8mm, and 16mm films. However, films made in analog video formats such as VHS and S-VHS, which are already threatened by technological obsolescence, also have a place in the lab. LUPA receives, preserves and promotes not only films, but also equipment such as cameras and projectors, as well as all kinds of documentation related to the amateur film culture of the State of Rio de Janeiro.

We believe in the potential of amateur cinema to reveal aspects of people’s lives and of society in the State of Rio de Janeiro that were not captured or glimpsed in professional film production, either documentary or fiction. Not only are amateur films pervaded with memories and emotions held by the filmmakers and their friends and family, but they also have a wider appeal. LUPA seeks to preserve, promote, and value home films, family films, travel films, school films, in short, a wide range of moving images that can be considered “orphan films”.

Amateur cinema – whether on film, video, or digital media – is often more fragile and vulnerable to disappearance because of three main factors. First, it is disregarded for its supposedly “sloppy” form; second, its materiality is a drawback, as there usually is only one copy; and third, the lack of systematic actions to preserve these pieces of work. By limiting its scope to the State of Rio de Janeiro, LUPA aims to fill the gap in the appreciation for this type of film, contributing to establishing a network of film archives that can collaborate and complement each other in the safeguarding of Brazilian audiovisual heritage.