Illuminated Hours

The Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler

May 9–16, 2024


Words of Mercury. 2010–11. USA. Directed by Jerome Hiler. Courtesy Jerome Hiler
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

Initiated amid the flowering of artisanal cinema in 1960s New York and continuing uninterrupted until today, the moving-image careers of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler are among the most captivating in film history. Their art, driven by the quest for a humanely lyrical cinema, transfigures ordinary surroundings into intimate glimpses of transcendence and offers audiences the experience of vision as an open form of poetry. Though each has produced a distinct body of work—Dorsky struggled for decades to refine the delicately precise and inventive approach to editing he would call “polyvalent montage,” while Hiler’s films were, until little more than a decade ago, seen and admired by friends in home screenings—they share radically akin sensibilities: both remain faithful to the 16mm Bolex camera and the palpable silence of 18-frames-per-second analog projection. In their hands, these minimal tools become the catalysts for a layered, world-creating cinema that echoes an eclectic array of devotional art, from medieval stained glass to Yasujirō Ozu, from Hans Memling to John Ashbery and John Ford.

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, as well as the forthcoming series Illuminated Hours: Three Evenings with Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler at Anthology Film Archives (May 17–19).
(Introductory text by Carlos Saldaña and Francisco Algarín Navarro)

Organized by Carlos Saldaña and Francisco Algarín Navarro, guest curators; Ron Magliozzi, Curator; and Francisco Valente, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, MoMA.

Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from the Triad Foundation, Inc., The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Young Patrons Council of The Museum of Modern Art, and by Karen and Gary Winnick.


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