Five College Associate Professor of Film and Video
Her films have screened at festivals and museums including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Film Forum, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Rencontres Paris/Berlin, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, Cinéma La Clef, Paris, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Africa World Documentary Film Festival, Yaounde, Brotfabrik, Berlin, MIX Brazil and European Media Art Festival, Osnabruck.
Hillman was director of Teatro Movimento, a multi-media performance group based in Florence, Italy. She has worked as a performer and choreographer with Etienne Decroux, Eleanor Antin, and Sledgehammer Theatre. She has taught film and performance in France, Italy and Canada.
Her films include “Decroux’s Garden,” “Jacumba Song,” “Fati and Aissatta,” and "Passage du Désir," a feature length experimental film shot on Super 8 and 16mm film in Paris and Madrid. Baba Hillman’s films explore transience, language, memory and the politics of landscape and the body. Combining performance, poetry, and multilinguality, the films move within diverse, often disparate cinematic and performative languages, at the intersection of these languages where they remain in tension, or continual negotiation and translation. She is currently working on “Mawâqi’ al-nujum,” a film that combines hybrid narrative and essayistic approaches in an exploration of the theme of the journey and modes of perception and learning in the work of Arab Andalusian poet and philosopher Ibn ‘Arabi.
Hillman has received awards and grants for her work from the French Ministry of Culture, the Whiting Foundation, the California Arts Council, the Maryland Arts Council and the Italian city governments of Florence, Lecce and Certaldo. Her work is distributed by Canyon Cinema, Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and Collectif Jeune Cinéma in Paris.
This advanced practice/theory course explores a poetics of word and image, a poetics of resistance, dream and revelation in film and text. Working with both visual and spoken text, we will consider a series of questions: How do words fall on an image? How do we choose a certain word, a certain phrase in relation to an image? Does the image function as an illustration of the words or does it expand upon the words in a different visual direction and if so, how is that operating? How does the choice of each word, each phrase, the music of how they are strung together, the degree of formality or edge or speed in the reading, how do all of these carry an energetic charge and meaning that comes from the relationship of the voice to the ideas in the poem to the image itself? How do poetry and film work together across cultures and languages, from early cinema to contemporary digital and analog works for single channel and installation? We will study films and installations by Shirin Neshat, Nicolas Rey, Masayuki Kawai, John Akomfrah, Ruben Gamez, Anri Sala and Sergei Paradjanov. Readings include the poetry of Aracelis Girmay, Anna Akhmatova, Paul Celan, Aime Cesaire, Audre Lorde and Wislawa Szymborska, as well as writings on the role of the poet in times of revolution and resistance. Students will complete individual and collaborative projects combining poetry and still and moving images. Students may work in 16mm, Super 8 or digital formats.
This is an advanced production/theory course for video and film students interested in developing and strengthening the element of performance in their work. How does performance for the camera differ from performance for the stage? How do we find a physical language and a camera language that expand upon one another in a way that liberates the imagination? This course will explore performance and directing in their most diverse possibilities, in a context specific to film and videomakers. The class will emphasize the development of individual approaches to relationships between performance, text, sound and image. We will discuss visual and verbal gesture, dialogue and voice-over, variations of approach with actors and non-actors, camera movement and rhythm within the shot, and the structuring of performance in short and long form works. Screenings and readings will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to directing and performance. We will study works by Shirin Neshat, Vera Chytilova, Pedro Costa, John Akomfrah, John Cassavetes, Ousmane Sembene, Eija Liisa Ahtila and the Wooster Group among others. Students will complete three projects.
This production/theory class will introduce students to scripts and texts by independent filmmakers and installation artists who are questioning what it means to work across cultures and languages in a transnational context and to negotiate conflicts between notions of the local and the global, notions of national identity and the postnational. These filmmakers are working in hybrid combinations of essayistic, poetic, fictional and non-fictional forms. Many of them work in a context of multiple languages and seek to express the rupture of cultural displacement, and the ways in which it impacts questions of representation. We will study works by filmmakers and installation artists including Shirin Neshat, Pedro Costa, Anri Sala, Isaac Julien, Mona Hatoum, Abderrahmane Sissako, Yamina Benguigui, John Akomfrah, Johanna Vaude and Jean-Pierre Gorin. The course will include workshops in writing voice-over, dialogue and visual text for the screen as well as workshops in editing image to text. Students will write and shoot two short projects and one longer project. Students may work in 16mm, Super 8 film, digital media or across multiple formats.