Mike Hoolboom retrospective: Bodies, Outcasts, Capitalism, Beauty
Hazel Eye Film Festival April 19-26, 2019
Introduction to Alchemy 2:23 minutes 2018
Welcome to my worlds.
Introduction to Mountains 2 minutes 2017
Based on Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra, written in 13th century Japan. Here are a few words of introduction spoken by the artist. How should we begin?
Program One: Panic Bodies
1+1+1 (3 minutes 1993) co-makers: Kathryn Ramey, Jason Boughton
“A pixilated couple plays dress-up and undress-up as Earle Peach’s industrial-strength audio track pulsates and ebbs with churning tides of sound.” (Geoff Pevere, Images Festival Catalogue)
A Boy’s Life 7:50 minutes 1996-2018
Originally cast as the second part of a six-part feature Panic Bodies (1998), the original 16mm negatives were rescued courtesy of the Cinematheque Quebecoise, then rescanned, recut, and reimagined. They were shot in 1996, the year the AIDS cocktail arrived. It’s not uncommon during illness to experience one’s body grow as large as the world, here the body is figure and ground, friend and enemy, projection surface fragments, memory machine. I asked the excellent performance artist Ed Johnson if he could come by and perform in this psychodrama of loss and longing.
Scum 12:37 minutes 1995
Reflections on marriage. “Hypnotic, hallucinatory, entirely wordless, and completely beyond the pale… the film reads like a nightmarish, nocturnal-emission compendium of avant-garde, cinema-of-shock history.” (Jim Sinclair, Pacific Cinematheque)
Shiteater 11:11 minutes 1993
Originally made in 16mm, as the fourth part of the feature-length wordless psychodrama collection House of Pain. Psychodramatic in form, Shiteater features a single protagonist, Vancouver’s performance artist Andrew Wilson. Wilson’s transgressive fin-de-siecle performances have typically joined pop culture icons in onanistic rites of excess and immolation, using the body as the intersection of competing and unbearable pressures.
Moucle’s Island (11:08 minutes 1998)
“Poignant and playful, Moucle’s Island features Viennese filmmaker Moucle Blackout in a reverie which combines an older woman relearning childhood gestures with a nostalgic lesbian idyll.” Ken Anderlini, Vancouver International Film Festival
Program 2: Love Under Capitalism
We Make Couples (57 minutes 2017)
Awards: Best Feature, Documentamadrid, 2017
This Marxist love story asks: could the couple also be a form of resistance? Essay notes on marriage, microcinema, and the art of projection. With guest appearances by Occupy, Pussy Riot protesters, a runaway goat, two poodles, an army of street marchers, Mos Def, Frankenstein and cinema’s first kiss.
“Resistance, desire, capitalism. Everything is put through Canadian-born Mike Hoolboom’s blender in this film that sums up the beginning of our century in a brilliant film essay proposal. Edited over six years, we are faced with a lucid reflection in the form of a collage on the art of producing images, with the echoes of the cinema-going and the social turmoil of the Occupy movement to Pussy Riot. The editing, like roulette, plays on the free association of visual ideas, in which all types of materials from diverse sources are combined (black and white, 16mm, animation). The result goes beyond any logical narrative and invites us on a journey to the centre of the sub-conscience of the film itself, where the arms try to invert the logic of the market: images to digest, not to consume.” Punto de Vista Festival
Program 3: Art and its Doubles
Aftermath 75 minutes 2018
“A vivid and idiosyncratic four part biopic celebrating the lives of Fats Waller, Jackson Pollock, Janieta Eyre and Frida Kahlo.” Jamie Dunn, The Skinny
“Art is a necessity, a life-enhancing force that can enable us to transform repression and personal trauma into creative action. This is powerfully brought to light in Aftermath, through a kaleidoscopic exploration of the lives of four artists.” Alchemy Film Festival
Program 4: Outcasts
Second Nature 35 minutes 2014
An essay movie in the form of a drama. A primatologist and sex researcher uncover love as a test case, while weighing in on Palestine, power and bonobos.
Identification 29 minutes 2017
“A newly completed, expressive portrayal of African-American social life and family bonds amidst the ceaseless backdrops of segregation, poverty and brutal police violence.” Steve Anker
“Incredibly moving, depths and layers of emotion in the montage. Haunting images of bodies that are still.” John Greyson
Program 5: Portraits
Mirrors of Bergman 3:25 minutes, 2015
“I have had many loves, I said, but of all these, the greatest was my love of mirrors.” Alejandra Pizarnik
Spectator 6 minutes 2016
Is it the oldest dream? Giving birth to my father. Shot on a single starry afternoon.
Scrapbook 18 minutes 2015
Awards: Best Short Film, International Freethought Festival, Orlando, 2017; Best Short Documentary, Cork International, 2016; Jury Prize, Message to Man (St. Petersburg), 2016; Best Short, Edinburgh, 2015; Pat O’Neill Perseverance Furthers Award + Audience Award, Ann Arbor, 2015; Special Mention, Dokufest (Kosovo); Special Mention, Curtocircuito, 2015; Award of Merit, Accolade Global Film Competition
Lensed in Ohio’s Broadview Developmental Center in 1967 by secret camera genius and audio visual healer Jeffrey Paull, Scrapbook tells the story of audacious autistic Donna Washington in her own words, as she encounters pictures of one of her former selves fifty years later.
Colour My World 3 minutes 2017
Three-part colour inquiry. Questions adapted from Frederick Douglass to Jericho Brown bring the hurt. The images have been soaked in water until everything recognizable has been stripped away, leaving behind a wash of colours, a bacterial flow. The cinema audience reimagined as a collective colour project.
Citizen Poet 5:48 minutes 2017
Based on Lisa Robertson’s The Nilling, the movie offers poetry as antidote to the exclusions of state and identity.
Program 6: AIDS
Frank’s Cock 8 minutes 1993
Awards: Best Canadian Short Film, Toronto International Festival, 1994; Best Dramatic Film, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1994; Kodak Award, Locarno International Film Festival, 1994; Audience Award, Media City, Windsor, 1994; Honorable Mention, University of Oregon Queer Film Festival, 1994; Second Prize, Experimental, Big Muddy Festival, Illnois, 1995; Award, Interfilm Festival, Berlin, 1995; Best Gay/Lesbian Film, Albany International Short Film Festival, 1995; Grand Prize for Best Film of the Festival, Festival Internazionale di Cinema Gaylesbico, Bologna, 1998; Hon Mention, Inside/Out Toronto, 1998
“This is one of the most assured films I have ever seen. In the simplest of frames, in monologue, Vancouver actor Callum Rennie plays a man remembering his lover lost to AIDS. Hoolboom fills his words with blood and the space behind Rennie with blood-rich images. Eight minutes of pure, perfect cinema.” (Cameron Bailey, NOW)
Buffalo Death Mask 23 minutes 2013
Awards: International Film Critics Prize (FIPRESCI), Oberhausen, 2013; Critics Award, 25FPS, Croatia, 2013; Vimeo Audience Award, Ann Arbor Festival, 2013; “Important Cinematic Works,” Alternative F/V Fest, Belgrade, 2013
A conversation with Canadian artist Stephen Andrews returns us to a pre-cocktail moment, when being HIV+ afforded us the consolation of certainty.
Safety Picture Collection 25 minutes 2014
A found footage collection of 26 AIDS adverts. Freud uncovered the mysterious connection between language and bodies at the same moment that moving pictures provided new behavior modellings. How do pictures change desire, or the behaviours of desire? This question carried extra weight after the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, as movie makers struggled to find combinations of pictures that might help create the conditions for safer sex.
Program 7: Public Lighting
Writing 9:16 minutes 2004
“When I write, I see the shapes behind things,” says the writer from Public Lighting. We need shapes as the interface between words and not-words, between the seen and unseen.” Andrea Slovakova
In the City 9:40 minutes 2004
Awards: Hon Mention, Oregon Festival
“In the City recalls early Peter Greenaway in its ironic storytelling wherein a male voice (Steve Reinke) describes his breakups with each of his boyfriends, paired to a gorgeous montage of restaurants and city scenes.” Robert Koehler, Variety
Glass 11:47 minutes 2004
“Glass is a portrait of the composer Philip Glass, using archival footage of New York.” Esma Moukhtar, Montevideo Catalogue
Hey Madonna 9:32 minutes 1999
The third in a series of correspondences with Madonna. Cast in the form of a letter, including synchronous moments (a doctor’s visit, reminiscences about death), it narrates a tale of former lovers, one of whom has become positive. A fairytale of mourning.
Tradition 7:20 minutes 2004
“Tradition plays out the forgetting of the new as the handmaiden of the corporate and materialist tsunami engulfing traditional China.” Dirk de Bruyn
Hiro 11:38 minutes 2004
“Hiro reveals the mushroom cloud of Hiroshima as wound within a sleepless Japanese man’s nocturnal body.” Dirk DeBruyn
Amy 18 minutes 2004
Awards: Canada Council Prize for Best Canadian Work, Images Festival, 2003; Best Film, Flicker Festival, James River, 2004; Jury Award, Yorkton Festival, 2004 (Amy)
“Amy has home movies alternate with photographs and shots of the narrator as the artifice behind the filmmaking process becomes exposed.” Diane Burgess, Vancouver International Festival
Program 8: Imitations of Life
In the Future 3:30 minutes 2000
“In a tightly constructed barrage of old Hollywood images and more, he searches the past to illuminate our future, producing a collage shining with gestures and fixed looks that touch us deeply in their familiarity. In the Future is a film steeped in culture, one of the most concise and poetic of its kind.”(Barbara Goslawski, Take One)
In My Car 5:30 minutes 1998
Awards: Jury Award, Humboldt Festival; Hon Mention, Ann Arbor Festival; People’s Choice Award, Vancouver Videopoem Festival; Gold Medal, Brno Festival; Most Imaginative Film, Odense Festival; Jury Award, Palermo International Festival of Videoart
A poem wrapped around a brightly filmed portrait of childhood tells of a life spent in cars and a last race with the devil.
Jack 14:28 minutes 2000
Awards: Hon Mention, Ann Arbor Film Fest
“In Jack, the artist accompanies his nephew during the first years of life, this child becomes a recreation of Hoolboom, and of all of us. The filmmaker is looking for an imaginary past in order to reflect on a possible future, in pursuit of a primordial look, ‘a second chance.’ But we know that second chances are only too rare, and the final segments of this beautiful movie work quietly, with a grave elegiac quality, acquiring the aspect of a dream. Like a dream, we do not control these images, all we can do is wake up.” Antonio Rodrigues, Portuguese Cinematheque
Last Thoughts 6:30 minutes, 2003
“The wordless aquatic epiphany of Last Thoughts simulates the rush of pictures in the last moment of consciousness.” Esma Moukhtar, Montevideo Catalogue
Portrait 4 minutes, 2003
“Portrait is a fictional narrative that uses footage from the pioneer moviemakers the Lumiére Brothers to explore the use of film during its not-so-innocent childhood as an instrument of colonization and control, a prophecy of things to come in the twentieth century.” Mark Scala, Frist Museum
Secret 2 minutes 2002
Secret tells another pre-birth tale from the point of view of a foetus.” Esma Moukhtar, Montevideo Catalogue
The Game 6:26 minutes 2003
“A poignant reflection on movies, dreams and reality.” Taos Talking Pictures Festival
Imitation of Life (short) 21 minutes 2003
Awards: 1st Prize in Non-fiction category, Corto Imolo Festival, Rome; Wand 5 Honarary Award, Stuttgart Filmwinter, 2003
“Hoolboom plunders all of cinema for this epic meta-science fiction in which the future and the present are conceived as an endless parade of images. Science fiction as a realm of displaced fears and dreams, a place to imagine a future that’s already here.” (Chris Gehman)
Rain 3:49 minutes 2001
Rain is a slow motion reverie which voices the hopes and regrets of adults who have grown into the pictures which awaited them as children.” Esma Moukhtar, Montevideo Catalogue
Program 9: Tom
Tom by Mike Hoolboom 75 min 2002
Awards: Jury Award, Mediawave Festival, Hungary, 2002; Gold Medal, Houston International Film Festival, 2002; Voted one of Canada’s Top Ten 2002 by Canadian Film Critics/Toronto International Festival
“A dazzling experimental documentary about notorious cineaste Tom Chomont. Tom narrates his recollections and transgressions against a dizzying array of found footage, video, super-8 and photographs. At moments, he appears in front of the camera, alternately flamboyant or fragile. His revelations cover a broad scope from sadomasochistic desire through existential vulnerability to an incestuous relationship. With this extraordinary portrait, Hoolboom creates a different kind of biography film, one that eschews traditional mimetic realism in order to depict the reminiscences of a fading life lived in the throes of image culture.” (Diane Burgess, Vancouver Festival)
“Tom is a visually choreographed thought-scape, intermingling footage of Tom with found and archival footage ranging from the erecting of the Empire State building to Hollywood classics to much more abstract images, the film weaves Tom’s daily life and struggle with AIDS with distant memories and present fantasies.” (Reeling Festival)