As part of the Pordenone Collegium, I’ve been tasked with writing a paper on the experience. The abstract for the paper is now overdue by a week. I’ve had my topic sorted for ages, and I kept scrupulous notes along with my festival catalogue. But now the time has come to get it down on paper… well, I just can’t seem to get it out.
Everyone at the Giornate del Cinema Muto was a cinephile of some description. Some were scholars, others professional archivists, and many regular festival attendees. Moreover, we were all there as collectors. Archivists displayed their lovingly preserved collections of films or related paraphernalia. Historians gathered the knowledge necessary to further their research. The rest of us were anoraks, dutifully ticking off screenings in our daily schedules. I don’t why we cinephiles do it, but we constantly quantify our hobby, through DVD collections, pub quiz accolades or (admittedly) blog posts, as evidence of our dedication to the cause.
Take, for instance, the Davide Turconi Project: a digitised library of 23,000 silent film fragments. The collection is incredible, and I’m sure to discuss it in more detail one day. Paolo Cherchi-Usai and Joshua Yomibe introduced the project to the Collegium in Pordenone, and my paper is in part inspired by Yomibe’s referring to film fans as (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘hoarders of cinephilic relics.’
Well, I am unashamedly a hoarder, and I doubt I would be a film archivist if I didn’t collect the relics of my cinephilia. I hoard the memories of my cinematic experiences more than physical artefacts. Someday, when this recession is over, I will amass great sums of small gauge prints and Photoplay annuals. For now, though, I present a small but deeply personal collection of Brief Encounter themed tourist attractions!
(Brief Encounter is my all-time favourite film, and I can quote it pretty much verbatim.)
The collection began in York, where I worked part-time at the National Railway Museum and its Brief Encounter restaurant. Then, while living in Norwich, I visited the Brief Encounter cafe in Wymondham’s train station (the cafe closed down the week after). Best of all, my grandmother moved to Carnforth in Lancashire, whose train station provided the location for the film’s most iconic scenes.
Which is a really long, roundabout way of saying that I’m going to be spending Christmas in Milford Junction!