Public Lighting

Mike Hoolboom

2004 | 01:16:58 | United States | English | B&W and Color | Stereo | 4:3 | Video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Autobiography, Media Analysis, Mental Landscape

How do we tell the story of a life? What cruel reduction of an image will stand (in the obituary, the family photo album, the memory of friends) for the years between a grave and a difficult birth? Public Lighting examines the current media obsession with biography, offering up “the six different kinds of personality” (the obsessive, the narcissist) as case studies and miniatures, possible examples.

Public Lighting consists of six portraits which a young writer announces at the beginning of the film. These six people tell of ordinary follies, narcissistic obsessions, demiurgic desire and wounded memories. The separated man, the obstinate pianist, the aging singer, the Chinese émigré, the nocturnal Japanese and the confessed woman are fragments of a collective history. The warm lighting used by Mike Hoolboom illuminates sleepless nights when one is no longer prepared to be deceived – at least for a while – by the ghostly apparitions that haunt our dreams. A single image then appears to emerge. That of a poetic intelligence worried about the world, in which the grave and lucid Hoolboomian hero aspires to some recognition, to a semblance of eternity and to a ‘genuine’ place in the movement of life.” --Jean Perret, Visions du Réel Festival catalog 

Pricing Information

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Prizes + Awards


Best Experimental, Santa Cruz Festival 2004

Honorable mention, Youth Jury, Visions du Réel, Nyon, Switzerland 2004

Best Director, Pyongyang Festival, Korea, 2004

Best Documentary, Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, 2004





Exhibitions + Festivals

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2005