Henry Hills has been making short, intensely rhythmic experimental films since 1975. Primarily New York-based (where he frequently collaborates with composer John Zorn, choreographer Sally Silvers, and poet Charles Bernstein), he has been living half-time in Vienna since 2008, teaches at FAMU in Prague and was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2009.
This programme, curated by seminal Irish filmmaker Vivienne Dick, represents many highlights from Hills’ career, and has been similarly presented in recent months at the Austrian Film Museum, REDCAT in L.A. and Media City in Windsor, Ontario. His work, which seeks abstraction within sharply focused naturalistic imagery and the ethereal within the mundane, promotes an active attentiveness through a relentlessly concentrated montage.
- George (1976, 4 min, 16mm, colour, silent, USA)
- Porter Springs 3 (1977, 6 min, 16mm, colour, silent, USA)
- Kino Da! (1980, 3 min, 16mm, B&W, opt sound, USA)
- Money (1985, 15 min, 16mm, colour, opt sound, USA)
- Little Lieutenant (1994, 7 min, 16mm, colour, opt sound, USA)
- Failed States (2008, 10 min, DVD, stereo, USA/Czech Rep/India)
- arcana (2010, 30 min, digibeta, stereo, USA/Czech Rep/Austria)
Curated by Vivienne Dick with Henry Hills in person
Notes on the screening by Vivienne Dick:
For the past 38 years Henry Hills has been making 16mm experimental films. He received an MFA in Filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute where his teachers were James Broughton, George Kuchar, and Hollis Frampton. Other influences included West Coast filmmakers, Bruce Conner and Harry Smith. On moving to New York in 1978, Hills began an association with the ‘language’ poets and the Downtown improvised music scene which led to fruitful collaborations with musician John Zorn and other artists, filmmakers and dancers, such as Christian Marclay, Sally Silvers and Abigail Child. Hills' films use both found and shot footage and he creates incredibly rapid montage sequences, highly rhythmical and almost mathematical in form.
His earliest films (Porter Springs 3, 1977) are silent single- frame landscape studies, while his use of cut up sound in Kino Da (1980), his first sound film, was influenced by the Russian poet Klebnikov, who was part of the Russian Futurist movement. He continues this investigation into sound and image in his later New York work - Money (1985) is probably one of the densest sound films ever made with 2500 ‘scenes’ in 15 minutes, Arcana (2010) is based on a film treatment by long collaborator and musician John Zorn. That film plays on the themes of alchemy and esoteric knowledge and the image flow contains numerous recurring motifs – such as acts of cutting, water, and the atmospheric images of tiles, fences, steps, as well as countless diagrams – images drawn from a variety of different sources- B-movies, newsreels, historical avant-garde films, all of which dovetail together with video or 16mm footage of everyday miniatures.
This special event is a rare chance to see some of Henry Hills’ key works screened on 16mm and to meet the filmmaker in person.