Mike Hoolboom is a friend.
Ever since 1999, when we had our 7th Vila do Conde International Short Film Festival, we have found something strangely complex and, for that same reason, captivating in his work. It has been perfect: independent shorts with very low production costs, nevertheless, masterfully made and edited, enough to spark our attention and keep us interested. Our paths have crossed on several occasions and in several places. From there, we also let ourselves get wrapped up in his friendly personality and by his exceptionally unrestrained flair.
Since the timid inclusion of In My Car in the Festival’s competition in 1998, a short film of just 5 minutes, shot and presented in 16mm, we have kept an eye on him. Mike Hoolboom’s work, which started with the primeval exercise among a group of Canadian filmmakers who called themselves ‘fringe’, soon reached a degree of aesthetic and poetic maturity. Moreover, it has also constituted a critical and consistent approach to the emerging phenomena of the relationship between cinema and its audience. They were reflective films and, because they were constructed from the experiences of real characters, for instance Mike Hoolboom himself, or from film outtakes that he considers as people, they end up becoming a real ‘first person cinema’.
In the 2003 Festival catalogue, when we justly dedicated an extensive retrospective to him, Mike said “All my friends are films”, really making him one of us. The discomfort of some of his reflections becomes ours too, as if his look over things was ours too, and our senses could help us understand what he experiences.
It was also the premiere of Imitations of Life and the attempt to put a short film in a context different from the movie theatre. In that retrospective, we showed, already using the building that would house Solar, a loop of In the City, a 9 minute digitalised film that seemed to have no beginning or end, was there, right at the entrance of the first exhibition we ventured to show in this space.
We had the opportunity of seeing the director and his work in a range of feasible choices around the montage, intersection and transmutation of works without an end: “This is not the end”, not before going through another intensely shared team work opportunity. Mathias Müller and Christoph Girardet, who were the first to occupy Solar as a cinematic art gallery, collaborated with us to celebrate the Festival´s 10th Anniversary. Beacon, one of the four films directed for the occasion, has a text by him: Mike, Mathias and Christoph. From this wonderful complicity, from the participation of his films in the Festival, from his predilection for Vila do Conde, to which he returns once again; we have constructed the reasons for the multiplication of his cinematographic work in video loops that now inhabit Solar. The portraits, of people as films, endure, just like Mike.