“‘Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,’ sang Janis Joplin. The COVID-19 pandemic brought greater clarity to how precarious our capitalist model has become for those surviving in gig economies, where home ownership and a living wage are bygone privileges of baby boomers. For Mike Hoolboom, the lockdowns and isolation gave him time to develop a personal treatise that borrows from German artist Hito Steyerl’s essay “Freedom from Everything.” Reflecting on his own experience of the AIDS pandemic in the 80s and the neoliberal agenda that has since spread like a virus, Hoolboom’s voice guides us through a provocative thesis, enhanced by his brilliant ability to assemble found footage from 8mm film to video games and everything in between. An intoxicating cocktail of clips blends Margaret Thatcher and James Baldwin with George Michael and David Hasselhoff, resulting in a time-warping salve for our image-saturated culture.” Alexander Rogalski, Hot Docs
“Hoolboom’s newest film, Freedom From Everything, borrows its title from German artist Hito Steyerl’s essay of the same name. Developed during Hoolboom’s time in lockdowns and responding to isolation related to COVID-19, it reflects back on his experience during the AIDS pandemic — and the neoliberal agenda that has spread “like a virus” ever since. Narrated by Hoolboom and blending everything from 8mm film and video games to clips of Margaret Thatcher and David Hasselhoff, Freedom From Everything is sure to be one of Hot Docs’ most provocative offerings.” Peter Knegt, CBC
“Freedom from Everything is a film that combines the personal and the political in a compelling way. Mike Hoolboom, the director and writer of this extraordinary work is someone who is dealing with the consequence of two pandemics, AIDS in the ‘80s and ’90s and now COVID. A brilliant analytic thinker who cares about humanity not just himself, Hoolboom places his own life into a political and emotional context. During AIDS when he nearly died, Hoolboom saw how the right-wing establishment of the period—the Reagans and Thatchers—used their political power to reinforce their own positions and those of their wealthy allies while effectively killing LGBTQ artists and activists. Now, with COVID, the pandemic has fanned out to stop all of us from experiencing our daily lives. Hoolboom moves from the personal to the political, interrogating how we got to a time when democracy doesn’t function at all. Combining his life and practice with the philosophy and artistry of the German-Japanese artist and philosopher Hito Steyerl, Hoolboom has crafted a brilliant essay, which examines life under COVID and truly asks the question: WHY?” Marc Glassman, POV Magazine
“A film essay, Freedom from Everything, rethinks through neoliberalism and the concept of freedom two pandemics of recent history: AIDS and Coronavirus. According to Hito Steyerl, who signs the script along with James Baldwin and Mike Hoolboom, freelancers are freed from everything, including basic housing and health care needs.” Festival Internacional de Cine Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Personal film essay about two pandemics: AIDS and Coronavirus. Body memorials, survivor stories, remembrances. Both plagues are reframed by neoliberalism and its central mythology of personal freedom, brilliantly laid out in Hito Steyerl’s essay gem “Freedom from Everything” which is adapted and shapeshifted here. Pronouncing on the new precarity of the freelancer, Hito wryly observes that they have “freedom from everything,” from a good job, health care, affordable housing… Featuring Maggie Thatcher, Guy Fawkes, George Michael, James Baldwin, Akira Kurosawa and David Wojnarowicz.