Luminous Intimacy: The Cinema of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler, a complete dual retrospective, will take place during the 53rd New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11).

The films of Nathaniel Dorsky and Jerome Hiler represent the glorious culmination of American avant-garde film’s 70-plus years of engagement with a cinema of visual poetry. Partners in life and in cinema, the duo’s contemporary, experimental films will be shown in the festival with 33 of Dorsky’s works, including the world premiere of Intimations and New York premieres of Summer, December, February, and Avraham, and six of Hiler’s films. Additional details on the retrospective and the schedule will be announced at a later date.

“As the New York Film Festival’s involvement with avant-garde film deepened from 1997 onward with the launch of Views from the Avant-Garde (now titled Projections), Nathaniel Dorsky’s films were always at the top of the list each year,” said NYFF selection committee member and Film Comment editor Gavin Smith. “Over the years, each screening of his work, new and vintage, has been a special, singular experience. It’s been truly gratifying to bring his work to new and expanded audiences and see his films develop such a devoted following. It’s a privilege to be associated with the presenting the work of these two artists, and we’re thrilled to be hosting this complete retrospective, which is sure to expand their audience still further.”


Both filmmakers began making films in the early 1960s, initially inspired by the work of master filmmakers Stan Brakhage and Gregory Markopoulos, shooting and exhibiting only on film—their work is unavailable on any video format. For the last six decades, they have taken their 16mm cameras into the world and filmed gestures, moods, atmospheres, states of being, light and darkness, movement and stillness. Dorsky, a film lover since childhood who started shooting with an 8mm camera when he was 11, and Hiler, who shot his first images (of St. John the Divine) in the 1960s with a Bolex lent to him by Markopoulos, met in 1963 at a screening of Dorsky’s Ingreen, and have been living and filming together ever since—“We were filming for one another,” said Hiler.

[Related: Read Film Comment magazine’s 2013 interview with Nathaniel Dorsky.]

After four years on Lake Owassa in New Jersey, featured in both Dorsky’s Hours for Jerome (1980-82) and Hiler’s In the Stone House (shot between 1967 through 1970 but finished in 2012), Dorsky and Hiler moved to San Francisco, where they now reside. Here they embarked on an ongoing series of highly personal and deeply felt silent 16mm films in which the poetics of perception in everyday experience are explored with an attentiveness to the moment and exquisite refinement. Never less than breathtaking experiences, their films miraculously fuse color, exposure, focus, film stock, and editing into delicate and intimate rhapsodies that resist thematic or conceptual encapsulation.

Song and Solitude

Until recently, Hiler has elected to confine screenings of his work to private settings, with only a handful of public presentations. Dorsky has been a much more widely seen artist, and the screening of his 1996 film Triste in the 1997 New York Film Festival coincided with a renewed period of unprecedented productivity, with at least one new film appearing on a more or less annual basis. Accordingly exhibition of his work has become widespread, with retrospectives in Paris, London, Vienna, and beyond.

The 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring top films from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Kent Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, Marian Masone, Gavin Smith, and Amy Taubin. Submissions for the 53rd edition of the festival are now open. Click here to find out more.

VIP Passes and Subscription Packages will go on sale in the next few weeks and provide early access to NYFF tickets, including Main Slate, Opening Night, Centerpiece, and Closing Night screenings. In addition, Film Society of Lincoln Center members at the Film Buff level or higher receive an early access period for NYFF single tickets, ahead of the general public. For more information about membership, click here.

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