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Baby Pigs and Mouseholes 

Remembering Helen Hill

Wednesday, Sep 26 2007
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“Filmmaking is fun, so get going,” commands the old woman who narrates Madame Winger Makes a Film: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century. It’s the last line of Helen Hill’s 2001 animated short, which itself is about how to make films, real films, with 16 mm and Super 8 stock — stuff you can process in the bathtub if you’re so inclined. The short shows you how to do this and more, and by the end, you’re pretty convinced that filmmaking is fun. That deceptively simple ethos drove New Orleans–based filmmaker Helen Hill, who studied at Harvard and CalArts in the 1990s and became an important figure in the New Orleans independent filmmaking scene until her violent death last January. Hill tended to mix styles — paper cutouts flutter next to animated line drawings, which in turn mix with photographs, paintings, scratched emulsion and lots of stop motion. Sometimes this happens in a single film, as in Your New Pig Is Down the Road, which Hill made for her husband, Paul Gaillunas, in 1999 and which is nothing short of exuberant, with brilliant flashes of cheerful daisies superimposed on a baby pig — a love letter perhaps unlike any other. A similar eclecticism characterizes the moving Mouseholes, in which Hill remembers her grandfather in an almost childlike way that perfectly captures the fundamental conundrum of death. With this screening, REDCAT pays tribute to the 36-year-old and her very particular form of folk-art filmmaking. (REDCAT; Mon., Oct. 1, 8 p.m. 213-237-2800 or www.redcat.org)

—Holly Willis

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