This seems like a small miracle. My dad was an amateur photographer with a passion for Agfa’s colour process – his creativity was as much about the chemistry as the still image. Moving images held no interest. Except, for one brief moment in time, it did.
The evidence was found at the bottom of a box of negatives in the shape of two reels of Super-8 marked Xochimilco and Bermuda. They must have been shot during his time working in Mexico in the early 1970s – this was all I knew.
Inspired by J D Riso’s moving post, Liquid Memory, I had the Super-8s converted to DVD. The results may be over-exposed and scratched but emotionally it is overwhelming. Suddenly my mum is alive again, my sister has reverted to her 27 year-old self and most surprising of all, there I am, twenty again – I have absolutely no memory of this film being taken.
It starts in over-bright light with a group of figures walking towards the Mexico Olympic Stadium and then moves to the Trajinera boats at Xochimilco. My sister is chatty and smiling, my mother distant and imperious. As always, my dad is invisible, behind the camera.
I imagine the cine camera was borrowed, it certainly never found its way back to the UK. Neither did we have access to a projector – it fits my sense of the dramatic to believe this has never been seen before.
The short film ends with my mother in Berrnuda, walking away to an unknowable future. (the rest of the Bermuda reel has been omitted).
With thanks to TVV Productions for their excellent conversion service.
The conversion watermarks appear because I am too mean to fork out for a full movavi licence (movavi converts DVD VOB cine files to MP4 for display on Youtube).