Canadian Films Top Ten by Katherine Monk (2002)

I’ve always been fascinated by the work of Mike Hoolboom. From his cutting-edge Canadian satire Kanada to the less cryptic effort Frank’s Cock, Hoolboom makes the kind of movies that many Canadians are simply too afraid, or too unimaginative, to attempt. Untempted by mainstream fame or filthy lucre, Hoolboom makes films that challenge both the viewer and the medium itself. Here, he pulls off one of his most poetic feats ever as he chronicles (and that’s a term I use loosely) the life of Tom Chomont. Chomont is a bit of a legend below the radar. A man whose films have been the subject of a Museum of Modern Art retrospective and several academic essays, Chomont has been making movies for close to fourty years.

He appears before Hoolboom’s camera as something of a spectral figure-gaunt, pale, trembling and suffering from AIDS. Hoolboom capitalizes on the ghostly image by superimposing images of Chomont over his own footage. The effect is stunning, as it shows us Chomont as something of a time traveller, moving through images of his own creation. Combined with stock archival footage, Hoolboom fashions a film that articulates the artist’s place in the world-without ever having to defend the creative position. It’s simply there, whether one chooses to embrace it or not. For those seeking the ultimate film-festival film, where experimentation takes precedence over formula, this is the one you won’t want to miss… A very soulful meditation on the life and work of filmmaker Tom Chomont. Director Hoolboom uses the medium to enhance his subject’s emotional reverie, resulting in a film that seems to spring into silver before the camera. A beautiful and emotionally taut homage, to both the man, and cinema. (Film Studies Association of Canada)