Nov 25, 2008

post script to the Flaherty award ceremony

BlogHer Pamela Cohn (Still In Motion) reports on the Flaherty-Leo-Hammer-Filmakers-Samu-Helen Hill event at the Thalia Theater in New York.

After the ceremony, Barbara Hammer introduced me to filmmaker-media-artist-curator-professor Caroline Koebel. Caroline said she had first met Helen Hill during the early 1990s, when Helen first came to New Orleans -- and that she was the best person she ever met.

Nov 23, 2008

The Flaherty gives animation award to Helen Hill

The force-for-good now simply called "The Flaherty" (the nonprofit organization that puts on the annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar), bestows two honors each year, the Leo Award and the Samu Award. The former, named for Leo Dratfield (the influential nontheatrical film distributor who ran Contemporary Films), is given for long-time achievement in independent film and video. The latter is given to an animator whose work conveys “a universal message illuminating our sense of world community.” It’s hard to think of an artist more deserving of this award than Helen Hill.

Charles Samu helped bring attention to independent animators in many places, especially via the World Festival of Animated Film in Zagreb. Although Helen’s filmmaking thrived in many ways, no international spotlight shone on her or her work until her passing. Leo Dratfield and Charles Samu are also obscure figures in the public sphere because they both put their energies into the invisible sector of filmdom – distribution. No work gets to an audience but by distribution. And so it remains quite wondrous and inspiring that the work of Helen Hill has now come to us despite the fact that she never distributed her films, at least not in any conventional sense. She did show at festivals, but more often took prints and projectors to alternative sites of exhibition, including her own home.

Moreover, Helen’s films embody the Samu Award’s aspiration to an art of universality and to work that generates a sense of community. Her films are animated by love of all kinds – romantic, spiritual, filial, maternal, familial. She lived the life of a utopian anarchist, a citizen of the world, residing in the creolized port of New Orleans, the bohemian town of Halifax, the worldly world of Los Angeles, the creative community of Boston, while remaining a creature of Carolina. All of these inflect her enchanted cinematic world, a House of Sweet Magic, but one that also knows about the darknesses of life, and death.

On Monday, November 24, at 7:30 pm, the Flaherty will celebrate its awardees at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater (at Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York). Helen Hill’s masterpiece, Mouseholes (1998),

Miššje luknje
(Slovenija festival)

will screen as part of the Samu Award presentation. Two Leo Awards follow. Fellow orphanista Barbara Hammer is being recognized for excellence in filmmaking throughout her career; Filmakers Library gets the second Leo for its forty years of work in the “invisible sector” of indy film and video distribution.

Nov 22, 2008

The force-for-good called simply "The Flaherty" (the nonprofit organization that puts on the annual Robert Flaherty Film Seminar), gives two

For Excellence in Exhibition, Distribution or Programming: Filmakers Library.

For Excellence in Filmmaking: Barbara Hammer.

We will also be presenting the Samu Award to the late animator Helen Hill, whose films convey a universal message illuminating our growing sense of world community.

The 2008 LEO AWARDS will be presented on Monday, November 24, 7:30 pm at the Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City. The celebration will include presentation of the awards, as well as, clips from the Filmakers Library collection, a short film by Helen Hill, and Barbara Hammers' films, Sanctos and Vital Signs.