Tom Joslin Retrospective

Posted by sfindie May 28, 2013 2734 views

We are honored to present a retrospective of the intimate, poetic and personal work of Tom Joslin (1946-1990). These three films track the career and life of this brilliant man who helped shape queer and experimental film. Tom Joslin was infamous for taking his camera everywhere, mixing life and art to such a degree that at one point during BLACKSTAR he is found lying with his partner Mark Massi in a bed of film to highlight ‘how film got between us’ in their relationship. Though his career was cut short, having made only three films, his influence on the ‘personal as political’ extended throughout the documentary medium having been a pioneer of the video diary, and poetic experimental film. His work never structured around a message or political motive, but acts itself as a vehicle for change as we watch one couple live in a time when it was radical to come out, one couple deal with the ugly and beautiful ‘every day’, and one couple go through the plague of Aids; it is impossible to sit through his films and not be changed in some way. His retrospective showed last year in New York and SFDocFest is excited to bring it out the coast where he spent so much of his life. Come out to see documentary not representing or depicting life, but showing it.


BlackStar: Autobiography of a Close Friend

Tom Joslin

1977, 85 min, US


Mixing and matching film shot on super 8 and 16mm with collected sound and pop music Tom Joslin documented life in sweet morsels. SFDocFest invites you to fall in love with one of the most intimate looks into relationships. Made in the 1970’s, Blackstar is an example of how far one person can go with documentary, showcasing the ridiculous hold family has on him as he tries and eventually falls in love with his partner Mark, and their passionate relationship with the world. Through his lens we see the struggle his parents hold onto in their conservative values, Mark’s poking and prodding and Tom’s repressive values, and the simple love that develops between two people.


Architecture of Mountains

Tom Joslin

2010, 62 min, US


Assembled with footage from an unfinished project, Hampshire College colleague, Abraham Ravett and two alums, Sam Shapiro and Ben Balcom, put together what was to be a film on the nature of perception and human consciousness. This ‘Nomadic Archive’ wonders through the imaginative dreamscapes Tom Joslin constructs after inventing a machine that would wake him up periodically throughout the night and turn on his soundsynch film camera. The film is as whimsical as it is haunting, with shots from the bed that eerily foreshadow what his body later looks like after contracting Aids.


Silver Lake Life: The View From Up Here

Tom Joslin

1993, 99min, US


Finally we go from the intimately joyous and whimsical world Tom Joslin turned his camera towards to the humbling and devastating trials and struggles that unfolded between Mark and Tom after being diagnosed with AIDS. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993, Silver Lake Life challenges viewers to look at the effects Aids has on one person’s life with no filter, no nice reading, or cover, just raw life as it comes to an end before it was meant to. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles times says of it, “No one who sees [the film] through to its unexpectedly buoyant final scene will regret the time spent or be unchanged by the experience”.