Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board

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Founded in 1966 at McMaster University by avant-garde filmmaker John Hofsess and future frat-comedy innovator Ivan Reitman, the McMaster Film Board was a milestone in the development of Canada’s commercial and experimental film communities. McMaster’s student film society quickly became the site of art filmmaking and an incubator for some of the country’s most famous commercial talent – as the well as the birthplace of the first Canadian film to lead to obscenity charges, Hofsess’s Columbus of Sex.

In Hamilton Babylon, Stephen Broomer traces the history of the MFB from its birth as an organization for producing and exhibiting avant-garde films, through its transformation into a commercial-industrial enterprise, and into its final decline as a show business management style suppressed many of its voices. The first book to highlight the work of Hofsess, an innovative filmmaker whose critical role in the MFB has been almost entirely eclipsed by Reitman’s legend, Hamilton Babylon is a fascinating study of the tension between art and business in the growth of the Canadian film industry.

“Hamilton Babylon is a well-written and engaging narrative of the events that led to the creation of the McMaster Film Board, its ‘rise to fame,’ and its demise. Informative and entertaining, it will be of interest to both cinephiles and Canadianists.” - Andre Loiselle, Department of Film Studies, Carleton University

“Broomer has unearthed a mass of information on the McMaster Film Board, its productions, its accomplishments, and its trials, both literal and figurative.” - Blaine Allan, Department of Film and Media, Queen's University

Stephen Broomer is a filmmaker and film historian whose films have been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlin Directors Lounge, and Lincoln Center.

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