Other Cinema kicks off its fall 2011 season Sat/24 with a bittersweet program: the local premiere of Helen Hill's The Florestine Collection — her last film, left unfinished after her 2007 death, completed thanks to the dedicated efforts of her husband, Paul Gailiunas. Hill was only 36 when she was shot to death by an intruder (still unidentified) who broke into her New Orleans, LA home; her husband was injured but survived, and the couple's toddler thankfully escaped unharmed.
South Carolina-born Hill made her first film at age 11, attended Harvard for undergrad, and received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts. Her unique animation techniques (including cut-out puppets) drew from the fairy-tale works of groundbreaking German animator Lotte Reiniger (whose remarkable filmography stretched from the 19-teens up through the 1970s) as well as DIY methods like hand-processing. She was continually inspired by her adopted hometown of New Orleans, as well as her chosen activist causes, including Food Not Bombs and animal rights. She also created the 2001 reference tome Recipes for Disaster: a Handcrafted Film Cookbooklet.
Hill's upbeat, friendly attitude ("I love New Orleans!") and excitement at helping to set up the New Orleans Film Collective (you can also catch a glimpse of her pet potbellied pig!) are evident in this 2003 interview with Timecode: NOLA. The Florestine Collection was inspired by a particularly special day in 2001 (detailed in this interview with Gailiunas) when Hill discovered some 100 handmade dresses discarded after the recent death of an elderly seamstress. Hill's reaction (per the article: "'This is the best trash-pile find in the world!' she exclaimed") was followed by curiosity about the woman's identity; the film reflects her findings. Joy and wonder, it seems, were two of Hill's most accessible emotions -- and despite her tragic, terrible death, her work lives on to inspire other creative thinkers and free spirits.
Other Cinema's program also includes a slew of work by other experimental animators, including Martha Colburn, Kelly Sears, Jim Trainor, Janie Geiser, and more; the fall season runs through Dec. 17 and includes nights dedicated to such diverse topics as Muzak, Mexico and Canada, eco-horror films, social media, and Marshall McLuhan. In other words, fans of strange and unusual cinema: your Saturday nights are set until 2012.
Sat/24, 8:30 p.m., $6
Artists' Television Access
992 Valencia, SF