Illuminations: Jerome Hiler

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For many years, Jerome Hiler only showed his films in intimate home screenings. He occasionally presented an illustrated talk, “Cinema Before 1300,” exploring his fascination with medieval stained glass. After a presentation at the Harvard Film Archive in 2017, Haden Guest proposed creating a digital version of the slide lecture, which is screened here for the first time. Complementing it are two programs of Hiler’s layered, luminous experimental films, which have recently come into BAMPFA’s collection, as well as Music Makes a City, reflecting another of his passions. Hiler recounts, “I work in stained glass. Though, in recent years, I have put more of my efforts into filmmaking, I’ve found myself transferring physical techniques, such as painting and abrading, to my film work. But from my earliest film efforts over fifty years ago, I drew inspiration from the idea that my films were to be like stained glass glowing in a space of sacred darkness. I knew that both my film work and stained glass itself were based on a discontinuity given an illusory wholeness by the blessings of light. In our time, we have seen cinema rise and fall in a comparable period. Also, technological developments that have replaced film, to my eyes, have appreciably downgraded visual interest. I am still a filmmaker. I shoot film out of love for film. I am loyal to my loves. Not only to film, but to the light of the projector—and the soft, reflective light of the screen. This is hardly a match for the glorious starlight that flows through glass, but it echoes the reflected light of the moon, that first of all films and most beloved of all revivals.”

Cosponsored by Canyon Cinema

Organized by Kathy Geritz. Presented as part of the Out of the Vault series, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. We thank Owsley Brown III for making possible the addition of these works to our film collection. Our gratitude goes to Haden Guest, Harvard Film Archive, for allowing us to premiere the digital version of Cinema Before 1300. We are grateful to Andrew Tamburrino, Film Preservation Technician at Colorlab, for his assistance in preparing this series, and to Canyon Cinema for cosponsoring it.

Wednesday, September 13 7 PM
Three Experimental Films by Jerome Hiler: Program One
Jerome Hiler in Person
All three films in this program—Words of Mercury, Bagatelle II, and In the Stone House—represent a journey of sorts, and between them they include footage from throughout Jerome Hiler’s filmmaking life.

Sunday, September 17 4 PM
Cinema Before 1300
Jerome Hiler in Person
Jerome Hiler’s passion for medieval stained glass impacted his filmmaking practice and led to a fascinating evolving lecture, “Cinema Before 1300,” here premiering in digital form.

Sunday, October 1 4 PM
Three Experimental Films by Jerome Hiler: Program Two
Jerome Hiler in Person
New Shores, Ruling Star, and Bagatelle I beautifully mark Jerome Hiler’s move to San Francisco and ongoing meditations on life in California.

Saturday, October 28 4 PM
Music Makes a City
Jerome Hiler and Owsley Brown in Person
“In striking synchronicity, a mayor, a conductor, and a robust postwar generation of composers intersected to make the city [of Louisville, Kentucky,] a hub for visionary composition” (New York Times).


Wednesday, September 13, 2023 (All day)
Sunday, September 17, 2023 (All day)
Sunday, October 1, 2023 (All day)
Saturday, October 28, 2023 (All day)


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