Winnipeg Underground Film Festival (2014)


WUFF is thrilled to present two acclaimed works by one of Canada’s most important and challenging figures in independent cinema. Mike Hoolboom has produced more than fifty films and videos since 1980 and has written prolifically on art and cinema throughout his career. Since being diagnosed with HIV in 1989, his work has largely concerned itself with themes of the body, disease, loss, and impermanence, but also activism, memory, and hope. Frank’s Cock (winner of the TIFF Best Canadian Short Film award) and Tom (originally released in 2002 and reedited in 2009) provide a concise introduction to Hoolboom’s powerful body of work.

Frank’s Cock dir. Mike Hoolboom
 1993 | CA | 8 | 16mm on video
A four-sided look at AIDS, a first person testament that is alternately funny and sad, relating the meeting of two lovers and their sexual adventures. As the story of their life is told by its survivor, the screen divides into four scenes revealing the storyteller, footage shot inside the body, a montage of performance art and gay porn. This division within the frame replays the effect of the virus, multiplying its deadly effects in a phantasmagoria of loss. An elegy for a friend. —MH

Tom dir. Mike Hoolboom 
2002 / 2009 | CA | 53 | 16mm on video
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 (Professor of Theatre and Film at University of British Columbia)


MikeHoolboom22_zps0b03a41aOpen City Cinema is excited to close our second edition of WUFF with two more works by acclaimed Canadian experimental filmmaker Mike Hoolboom. Mexico, an anti-travelogue produced in collaboration with Steve Sanguedolce (and presented here on 16mm), and Hoolboom’s most recent film, Buffalo Death Mask (winner of the International Critics’ Prize at the 59th Oberhausen International Short Film Festival) which provides a dreamlike elegy that perfectly balances warmth and melancholy, love and loss. A celebration of life that simultaneously addresses the unfairness and ambivalence of still being around, when so many others are gone.

Mexico dirs. Mike Hoolboom + Steve Sanguedolce
1992 | CA | 35 | 16mm
In Mexico, experimental filmmakers Mike Hoolboom and Steve Sanguedolce set out to dissect the travel bug. Hoolboom’s deadpan, incisive voice-over offers the viewer the air-tight experience of a Third World holiday, while images from an archaeological museum to a bullfight to an auto factory establish the dual contexts of tourism and Free Trade. —TIFF

Buffalo Death Mask dir. Mike Hoolboom
2013 | CA | 23 | 16mm on video | Manitoban premiere
A conversation with Canadian painter Stephen Andrews returns us to a pre-cocktail moment, when being HIV+ afforded us the consolation of certainty. —MH

“Did you see the film at Ann Arbor, that was about AIDS…? His lover had died, and the whole first section is the mask… Buffalo Death Mask. See, I thought that film, though it never said that, was deeply erotic in ways that were so profound. Also, I’ve never seen a film that I thought professed love in the way that did, maybe it just struck me that way. The love that he had for this person who died. And that’s a tricky one to talk about without being saccharine, without being too direct. He was very moved and he managed to convey that in his film. Not just regret, but the kind of love that they had, and how they were important to each other.” —Suzan Pitt, in conversation with Scotty Slade