Imitations of Life

Mike Hoolboom

2003 | 01:16:15 | Canada | English | B&W and Color | Stereo |

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Family, Film or Videomaking, Found Footage, Future, History, Youth/Childhood

"It may indeed be questioned whether we have any memories at all from our childhood: memories relating to our childhood may be all that we possess. Our childhood memories show us our earliest years not as they were, but as they appeared at the later periods when the memories were aroused. In these periods of arousal, the childhood memories did not, as people are accustomed to say, emerge; they were formed at that time. And a number of motives, with no concern for historical accuracy, had a part in forming them, as well as in the selection of the memories themselves."

--Sigmund Freud

This ten-part video strains childhood through a history of reproduction, culling pictures from the Lumiéres to the present day in order to find the future in our past. Here are children of pictures, as pictures, the ones who will walk on our graves, granted a legacy of framing and image-making that have helped shape their lives, and their ability to grieve those no longer around to share them.

A video in ten parts: In the Future (3:00), Jack (15:00), Last Thoughts (7:00), Portrait (4:00), Secret (2:00), In My Car (5:00), The Game (5:30), Scaling (5:00), Imitation of Life (21:00), Rain (3.30).

"Mike Hoolboom's latest work is an extraordinary palimpsest in action. It is packed with cinema images that follow one another, interpenetrate, fertilize and repel one another. Taken from Hollywood fiction films but also from newsreels and documentary and scientific works, all these images patiently collected against the background of a salutary hold-up (the scenes are excised without any particular precaution from the gigantic body of cinema films, and by extension from the myths that it conveys) have something of the construction of a metafilm. This is both a situationist commentary, through the playful and iconoclastic way in which the works concerned are diverted, and at the same time a Sisyphean attempt to get another story to emerge from this magma of images. In ten chapters Hoolboom gives consistency to nightmare-filled sleep and to waking dreams, with which he constructs a political and poetic reflection. Political in that he brands cinema as a colonial weapon, which even today--at least partially--tends to impose an imperialist vision of the world. The documentary shot of two white women throwing a few bread crumbs to some poor people is quite terrifying from this point of view. His film is poetic through the skill of associations that it develops and the expert editing. The latter organizes the film into periods of harmony and hiatus, where light and darkness, body and decors, draws the arabesques of an incomplete narrative.

When Mike Hoolboom himself gets hold of a camera, it's above all to film Jack, his sister's little boy, for whom he shows concerned affection. In an intimate mode, voice-overs express doubts about the history of human beings and their expectations as they face the future. The pieces of music have a very elaborate density. They work at the heart of time, the passing of which they strive to disrupt and the buried dimensions of which they strive to bring out. This time that passes is essential, modeled by the images of the world in which Mike Hoolboom's archaic fears and dreams reside. The end of Imitations is rainy and slow-moving, but it ends with a gag--the filmmaker's elegant way of not giving in to melancholy."

--Jean Perret, Festival international de documentaires de Nyon

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