Brave New World: The Films of Barbara Hammer
TIFF Bell Lightbox April 4 —7
Barbara Hammer should be better known than she is. A prolific and provocative filmmaker, Hammer didn’t start making her own films until 1978 at age 39. And what a force she became! Bold, electrifying, strident, political, openly and a true pioneer in gay culture.
So far, Hammer has made 38 shorts and feature length films, mostly avant garde documentary and experimental films, imbued with a kind of energy and vision that is deeply personal and somehow universal. She covers a wide variety of subjects passionately, from early Hollywood, where she was born and raised, to radical politics, lesbianism, feminism, aging, relationships, and sex and power.
Hammer’s films have shown to great acclaim in retrospectives at London's Tate Modern, New York's Museum of Modern Art and Paris' Jeu de Paume. Finally they land in Toronto. She will present each film herself, sometimes with special guests. It’s a rare chance to witness this artistic force of nature in her element.
Barbara Hammer is 73 and can look back on a brilliant career as a film auteur that came to the game late in life and got to do the thing she seems to have desired most, to express herself. Hammer worked on every aspect of her films as director, editor, cinematographer, producer, writer and crew. Her website Barbara Hammer features further information about her.
Hammer completed her most recent film in 2011, Maya Deren’s Sink is a gloriously zany fantasy biography of earlier feminist avant garde filmmaker (Meshes of the Afternoon, At Land) and iconoclast Maya Deren, sprung from the discovery of the actual sink from Deren’s Manhattan apartment/artists’ salon.
Hammer’s films are intensely personal and open, sometimes shockingly so. Nitrate Kisses features an elderly lesbian couple making love in close up detail. In another film, we watch as a doctor examines Hammer after undergoing chemo. She talks about growing up in Hollywood and her mother’s dream that she model herself on Shirley Temple.
Her appropriately titled autobiography HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life compiles her personal history and philosophy. A Hammer fan knows a lot about her ruminations on nearly everything as they appear in captions in her films.
Brave New World: The Films of Barbara Hammer is the first retrospective of TIFF Bell Lightbox' Free Screen programme of independent and avant garde works. All screenings are free of charge.
(A co-presentation with the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) and the Images Festival)
View trailers of Barbara Hammer films at TIFF: