Did you know that Wessex Film and Sound Archive, based at Hampshire Record Office alongside Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, holds thousands of films produced by amateur filmmakers from within the Wessex area?  

These amateur films offer an insight into the lives of those who lived in the area over the last hundred years, and can show us what they did, where they went, and how they chose to record this on film. Although produced by ‘amateur’ filmmakers, these visual stories of their lives and the events they filmed, are valuable pieces of history which should be preserved for future generations. Whilst the importance of documents and paper archives is long established, many of us do not see the same value in the everyday films that we record ourselves.  

However, preserving them for future generations is equally important. 

This month, we have been viewing the Chopra family films, a collection of clips from the 1960s and 1970s. These films offer us a nostalgic view of family life, whilst also highlighting the importance of family to the Chopra’s and how spending time together was central to that.  

The events the family recorded, such as a trip to the park and a birthday party, give us a unique insight into their lives, and allow us to share those experiences. It’s a real privilege to be able to share these films further.  

Filmmaker spotlight: Jiwan Prakash Chopra 

The Chopra family films (AV1003) were taken by amateur filmmaker Jiwan Prakash Chopra who recorded the footage on an 8mm cine camera. He had been a photographer by trade whilst living in New Delhi in India, and had migrated to Southampton in the early 1960s. 

Jiwan had a passion for filmmaking and enjoyed nothing more than spending his time recording film of his family. Included in these clips are his wife, mother and sister-in-law and their children. Birthdays, weddings and anniversaries were celebrated along with all Hindu religious festivals, some of which can be seen in the footage held by WFSA. He was also a founding member of the Hindu temple in Southampton and had the privilege of being a President of the temple for some years. 

Jiwan lived to the ripe old age of 87. The family have many more of his memories recorded on film, and thanks to their decision to share these with the archives, they are now available for members of the public to view too. Whilst the film clips show us the Chopra family’s specific experience of family life, they also allow us a nostalgic view of the past, and act as a reminder of how some things, such as the importance of family, never really change. 

You can watch Jiwan’s films on the WFSA YouTube channel

If you are interested in depositing amateur-made films to the Wessex Film and Sound Archive please contact enquires.wfsa@hants.gov.uk 

Hannah Bolt 

Hannah is a student of History at Winchester University and joined WFSA on placement in Autumn 2021. In compiling this filmmaker profile, Hannah made contact with and interviewed family members in order to enhance our knowledge of the films we hold and the people who made them. 

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