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Grant number: FA-58514-15

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FA-58514-15

Martin Louis Johnson
Catholic University of America (Washington, DC 20064-0001)

Main Street Movies: Local Films in the United States, 1909-1975

In recent years, the idea of the local has undergone a revival in the popular imagination. Restaurants boast menus with locally sourced ingredients, entrepreneurs advertise homemade goods, and artists explore regional cultures. In my book manuscript, titled Main Street Movies, I explore a phenomenon that anticipates this contemporary obsession, the local film, a motion picture of ordinary people made to entice them to attend the theater so they could see themselves in the movies. Produced by traveling filmmakers who plied their trade in small towns and cities, local films were received by town residents as being part of the larger experience of the movies. I document the diversity and longevity of such film practices in the United States. From town booster films in the 1910s to gentle Hollywood parodies in the 1930s to civic films in the 1950s, local films captured not just images of local people and places, but presuppositions about the function and meaning of the cinema itself.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Cultural History; Film History and Criticism; Media Studies

Program:
Fellowships for University Teachers

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2015 – 12/31/2015