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Luminosity – The Films of Jerome Hiler

Since the early seventies, Jerome Hiler (b.1943) has refined a uniquely multimedia artistic practice dedicated to the creation of meticulously crafted works of 16mm cinema, painting and stained glass. A trio of roughly contemporary, fortuitous events were crucial inspirations to Hiler's singular vocation: his time as assistant to Gregory Markopoulos, his discovery of Stan Brakhage’s early films and, most importantly, his meeting of lifelong partner and fellow independent filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky at the screening of Dorsky's debut film, Ingreen. Hiler and Dorsky joined one another on a creative path as fellow 16mm artists, collaborators and indelible influences on each other’s work. After a spell in New York City, they took a break from urban life, retreating to Lake Owassa in New Jersey, to an idyllic cottage featured prominently in both Hiler’s recently completed film Into The Stone House and in Dorsky’s celebrated Hours for Jerome.

After relocating to San Francisco with Dorsky in 1972, Hiler began to withdraw his films from the public eye, only screening camera originals to an inner circle of friends at his home. Nevertheless, Hiler remained extremely active during this time, shooting his own work and assisting other filmmakers in a variety of roles. Soon after, Hiler began to work in stained glass, an art and craft that combined his love of painting, luminous color and projected light. It was not until the late nineties that Hiler's films began to be more widely seen, with screenings at cinematheques and museums throughout the world, capped by a major New York Film Festival retrospective and a prominent place in the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

Formally and visually astonishing, Hiler’s films were for years notorious for being more talked about than seen. The recent rediscovery of Hiler’s work finds him, often together with Dorsky, lavished with much-deserved accolades and recognition as a dedicated craftsman and poet of his chosen media, able to capture the rarest essence, beauty and magic of light and daily life in each of his exquisite films. In today's world of endless distraction, Hiler's patient and rapturous films seem to offer an unusual and ultimately invigorating oasis, a place where vision can be renewed. Hiler's films also clearly resonate with a new generation of filmmakers during a time of great shifts and uncertainty, not unlike the period when Hiler first chose his artistic path. 

The HFA is pleased to welcome Jerome Hiler to share his unique vision of cinema. In addition to co-presenting an evening of Stan Brakhage’s films co-curated with Nathaniel Dorsky, Hiler will also deliver an illuminating, illustrated and interactive talk on stained glass.

Current and upcoming programs