Founded in 1966 at McMaster University by avant-garde filmmaker John Hofsess and future frat-comedy innovator Ivan Reitman, the McMaster Film Board was a milestone in the development of Canada’s commercial and experimental film communities. McMaster’s student film society quickly became the site of art filmmaking and an incubator for some of the country’s most famous commercial talent – as the well as the birthplace of the first Canadian film to lead to obscenity charges, Hofsess’s Columbus of Sex.
In Hamilton Babylon, Stephen Broomer traces the history of the MFB from its birth as an organization for producing and exhibiting avant-garde films, through its transformation into a commercial-industrial enterprise, and into its final decline as a show business management style suppressed many of its voices. The first book to highlight the work of Hofsess, an innovative filmmaker whose critical role in the MFB has been almost entirely eclipsed by Reitman’s legend, Hamilton Babylon is a fascinating study of the tension between art and business in the growth of the Canadian film industry.
About the author
Stephen Broomer is a filmmaker and film historian whose films have been screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlin Directors Lounge, and Lincoln Center.
"This is an interesting, and often passionately written, contribution to Canadian film history that shines a light on a key moment in the creation of the country’s independent cinema, and, in particular, argues for a re-evaluation of both the artistic and historical importance of the era’s experimental cinema."
University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018
"In Hamilton Babylon [Stephen Broomer attempts] to recuperate the history of the student-run McMaster Film Board – particularly with the story of its founding member, experimental filmmaker John Hofsess. "
Canadian Literature Reviews, 234 Autumn 2017