The Helen Hill Collection

image from Helen Hill's Rain Dance

Helen Hill (May 9, 1970 - January 4, 2007) was an experimental animator, filmmaker, educator, artist, writer, and social activist who lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Hill began creating short animated super-8 films at age eleven. She earned her B.S. at Harvard University in 1992. While majoring in English, she also minored in Visual and Environmental Studies, where she made the 16mm animated short Rain Dance as well as two other animated films. After receiving an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Experimental Animation, Helen, along with her husband Paul Gailiunas, spent time in Canada, where she continued to create films and teach film animation at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (now NSCAD University) and at the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP), before moving to New Orleans. Her short films, including Bohemian Town (2004), Madame Winger Makes a Film: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century (2001), and Mouseholes (1999), have been screened at festivals all over the world and feature puppets, hand drawn animation, found footage, and original hand-processed film. She is also the author of a book called Recipes for Disaster, which is a compilation of filmmaker’s techniques for hand processing film. 

Tragically, Helen Hill was murdered by a random intruder in her New Orleans home in the early morning of January 4, 2007, one of six murders in New Orleans in a single 24-hour period. In an extraordinary and in many ways model collaboration between Helen’s family, the Harvard Film Archive, New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, Colorlab, the Orphan Film Symposium, the University of South Carolina, and countless individuals, Helen Hill’s films, including shorts, animation, and home movies, as well as her papers, were quickly organized and donated by Paul Gailiunas to the Harvard Film Archive in 2007.  Shortly thereafter, guided by the coordination efforts of Dan Streible, ten of her films were preserved by Harvard and Colorlab. One title, Rain Dance, was preserved at Colorlab, under the direction of Bill Brand as an NYU MIAP project, and all were put back into distribution in late 2007.

Splendid new 16 mm prints of 10 of Helen's films are now available for public screening from the Harvard Film Archive. The films are:
Madame Winger Makes a Film
Scratch and Crow
Film for Rosie
Tunnel of Love
Bohemian Town
Your New Pig Is Down the Road
The World's Smallest Fair
Rain Dance

All Helen Hill titles are searchable and available in Harvard’s Hollis catalog. A finding aid for the Helen Hill Collection can be found here.

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