Spotlight on Mike Hoolboom by Donovan Aikman (2013)


Victoria Film Festival Catalogue 2013
(Written for the spotlight on Mike Hoolboom in 2013)

Talking about Mike Hoolboom is like dancing about architecture, to borrow a phrase. The Victoria Film Festival has been screening Mike Hoolboom’s films for as long as he’s been sending them to us, and we couldn’t be more pleased. The writer, critic, filmmaker and artist has been making shorts and features for thirty five years now and each and every work we’ve screened continues to feel like something new and fresh. The conundrum has always been how exactly does one write about what you’ve just seen?

If anything, his work always evokes the word “experience” and second to that is the phrase “when you experience the film.” For instance, it’s so easy for anyone to describe what you’ve seen when you’ve watched a superhero or action movie: one person busts through a wall with a gun or a sword and then hits the other one as hard as they can. It’s all very concrete in its silver-lined way. But, what do you say about the experience of a Mike Hoolboom movie?

Incorporating layers and montages of found footage, shot footage, performances, remembrances, texts and testimonials in what at first may seem like a visual flood from all manner of directions, but that actually come from a very succinct and directed central core. Hoolboom’s films bring vast reaching topics down to a very human consumable scale without feeling reduced. Rooted deeply in cinematic language and understanding, they are perhaps more akin to meditations than anything else. They are something that we feel about intensely both consciously and unconsciously.

And so we come back to that word “experience” again and it is perhaps that which makes Mike Hoolboom’s works so appealing to us here at the Victoria Film Festival. We have long been dedicated to sharing as much of the full spectrum of cinema experience with our audiences as possible. And when it comes to Mike Hoolboom’s work, there are so few filmmakers that offer an experience like his and so few that understand the power and all the methods of an image to transmit meaning the way he does.