Starting tomorrow at MoMA: Illuminated Hours: The Early Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler,

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May 8, 2024, 3:28:02 PMMay 8

If you are in NYC May 9-16, you won't want to miss this upcoming series, organized by soon-to-be MIAP graduate Carlos Saldaña!

Starting this week, the Museum of Modern Art and Anthology Film Archives will present a retrospective of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler's six decades of work on 16mm film. 


ILLUMINATED HOURS: THE CINEMA OF NATHANIEL DORSKY AND JEROME HILER opens this Thursday at MoMA! Programs run May 9-16, with three complementary screenings at Anthology Film Archives on May 17, 18 & 19.

In celebration of 60 years of ongoing explorations and unique advancements in poetic cinema, Illuminated Hours presents a wide-ranging selection of works by the two filmmakers, tracing their shared lives of creative exchanges and including North American and world premieres. An introduction or Q&A with the filmmakers accompanies the first screening of each program. The series coincides with the American release of Illuminated Hours: The Early Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, a publication that brings together texts and images from their first decades of filmmaking.

The screenings at Anthology Film Archives are presented with generous support from NYU KJCC, NYU’s Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies, and the Consulate General of Spain in New York.

Read this fantastic interview with both filmmakers at The Brooklyn Rail!



7.00 p.m. Cinema Before 1300. 2023. Directed by Jerome Hiler
Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker

Like his discovery of cinema when he was a child, the encounter with medieval stained glass windows was a revelation for Jerome Hiler. The filmmaker, also a stained glass artist for years, traveled to France and England in the 1990s to study and photograph the windows of the great cathedrals and chapels built in the XII and XIII centuries. His insightful commentary and a selection of 35mm slides illustrated Cinema Before 1300, a lecture on the sensually spiritual language of stained glass, simultaneously a devotional art and “mass media.” Under the initiative of the Harvard Film Archive, Hiler expanded the original lecture, which he performed live in different art centers and universities, and transformed it into a feature-length motion picture. Cinema Before 1300 is a branching meditation on the significance of this (and all) light-based projective art.

Read this new article on Cinema Before 1300 by Max Goldberg for Film Comment.



4.30 p.m. Program 1: Seasons and Stanzas
Followed by a discussion with the filmmakers

At age 21, Nathaniel Dorsky completed three sound films that announced his startling potential as a maker of poetic cinema and as a young adult coming to terms with adolescence in 1950s suburbia. Ingreen, A Fall Trip Home, and Summerwind explore an evolving consciousness of family, sexuality and childhood memories, both sensual and traumatic, in a lush articulation of plastic superimpositions and modulated time. His film practice was forever changed after Jerome Hiler gifted him a 100-foot roll, Fool’s Spring, in which Dorsky discovered the blossoming of life and film in a silent expression freed from description and narrative. After this first revelation and for the next five years, he pursued an open-ended, projectless film exploration, gathering material “comparable to a painter’s plein air sketchbook,” which he edited a decade later in Hours for Jerome, his first exploration of an “open form of montage” and a loving offering to his life partner.

7.00 p.m. Program 2: Flowers Pressed in a Book
With an introduction from Jerome Hiler

Although Jerome Hiler began filming in the early 1960s, for over thirty years he only showed his footage in fleeting assemblages meant for the privacy of home screenings. The three films in this program, edited between 2012 and 2016, integrate material from over forty years in a gracefully crafted visionary autobiography, as far from the anecdotal and diaristic as it installs itself at the core of the experiential. From the very first moving images he ever captured to present-day sights and plastic interventions, these films are a cascade of telescoped time and techniques (chiefly, the modulation of color, rhythm, filmed abstraction, superimpositions, and portraiture) through which the body and life of the filmmaker become affectionately visible.


4.00 p.m. Program 3: Breadth of Light
Followed by a discussion with the filmmakers

Through widely varying means, Nathaniel Dorsky’s and Jerome Hiler’s filming and editing strategies aim to preserve their films’ inexhaustibleness, conjuring a world as pregnant with potential as life itself. Dorsky’s work has evolved from a “polyvalent montage” that opens up the film’s scope at every cut to a structure based on the development of sequences in a distinct setting. In the last decade, however, he more often combines both approaches, making distant images arc with others as the constellated words of a poem and balancing this open poetic expression with spiraling variations on a subject. The painstakingly lucid improvisations of Hiler’s somatic camera and his musical sense of editing, rich in rhythmic inflections, weld physical and psychological aspects that convert the screen into a mirror and a self-portrait of the mind.


6.30 p.m. Program 4: Floating Weeds
With an introduction from Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler

As their intimate relationship with the 16mm Bolex camera evolved through the decades, Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler never relented in the transfigurative exploration of visual phenomena. Both film poets rip the light’s spectrum open into emerging worlds of color and magmatic, starry shapes. However disorienting in their initial grasp, Dorsky’s images often deploy an abstract figuration that sparks an interim between the viewer’s conscious and subconscious. Hiler’s multi-layered imagery implodes the solidness of matter, and stained remnants of filmed reality immerge, as passing glances, into a visionary air. The stratified depth they both inflect on the screen, where focal point, figure-ground and spatial coordinates become undiscernible, is a sustained variation on the unthinkable abundance of perception.



1.30 p.m. Program 5: Light's Refrain
With an introduction from Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler

Whether progressing from shot to shot or through well-delimitated sequences, “polyvalent montage” sparks soaringly dense films, where the spectator’s attunement to the immediate presence of each image and cut both fuels and hampers their conscious apprehension of the overall flow. In Triste, which draws footage from two decades and took three years to edit, Nathaniel Dorsky conceived of a haltless continuum where each image is a single chord that would distinctly resonate with all others around it. This polymorphous mosaic contrasts and relates with Marginalia, Jerome Hiler’s exploration of a dusking calligraphic and gestural culture. In April, Dorsky seductively portrays urban spring and its dwellers, blossoming glass planes and alienated human figures who seem to communicate from a distance. The program concludes with the world premiere of Hiler’s latest film, Careless Passage, where a city of detritus and colored gold opens a new view around every corner.


4.00 p.m. Program 6: The Golden Square. Recent Films by Nathaniel Dorsky
Followed by a discussion with the filmmakers

In the wake of his monumental Arboretum Cycle (2017), Nathaniel Dorsky has time and again returned to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to spawn films whose subject is none other than light itself in its mysterious, transformative being. Using his Bolex camera as a musical instrument, he animates a myriad of ever-modulating visual nuances that summon a singularly human yet disembodied spiritual presence. Brief glimpses of the urban are subsumed in a primal world of foliage, wind, sky, and undulating surfaces. This program presents a selection from the last five years to the world premiere of his latest film, including Apricity and Caracole (for Izcali), two rare examples of portraiture in Dorsky’s recent work.

4.30 p.m. Program 1: Seasons and Stanzas
6.30 p.m. Program 2: Flowers Pressed in a Book

4.30 p.m. Program 3: Breadth of Light
6.30 p.m. Program 4: Floating Weeds

4.30 p.m. Program 5: Light's Refrain
6.30 p.m. Program 6: The Golden Square. Recent Films by Nathaniel Dorsky

7.00 p.m. Kodachrome Dailies and more!

7.30 p.m. Five Kodachrome Originals, Part 1

7.30 p.m. Five Kodachrome Originals, Part 2

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Moving Image Archiving and Preservation
Martin Scorsese Department of Cinema Studies
Tisch | New York University 
665 Broadway
New York, New York 10012
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