Film in Print by Jason McBride (LIFT Newsletter, 1999)

LIFT Newsletter Jan/Feb 1999 Vol. 19 No. 1

Plague Years: A Life In Underground Movies by Mike Hoolboom
It’s safe to say that Mike Hoolboom is now Canada’s most renowned and influential “experimental” filmmaker. Prolific and mercurial, he has produced well over forty films, consistently employing new techniques and genres but just as consistently, rigorously even, exploring similar thematic terrain. Briefly, desire and its expression, repression and oppression. Now, YYZ has published what could be termed a catalogue raisonné (or maybe a greatest hits collection) of Hoolboom’s work, providing a glimpse of his awesome output. Edited by the equally prolific Steve Reinke, Plague Years is composed of the texts or scripts of Hoolboom’s films – accompanied by stills from each respective work. Without the moving images that they were initially paired with, these pieces (34 in total) read like short stories or, occasionally, academic essays. Somewhat surprisingly, the words often do not recall the films that they were once part of, but produce a whole new set of images – a tribute to Hoolboom’s skill and versatility as a writer. And while we always looked forward to new films, I hope we can now look forward to more writing. A beautiful, provocative and profound book.