Helen Hill’s Home Movies (2000-2005)

Helen Hill’s Home Movies (2000-2005)
Director: Helen Hill
23 minutes
Super 8 preserved on16mm, color, sound
Grant Awarded to: The Center For Home Movies

Films archived at: Harvard Film Archive


In addition to creating a body of award winning 16mm experimental animated films that involved hand drawing, puppetry, live footage, and other techniques; Helen Hill was a prolific documentarian of her adopted home city New Orleans and its people.  For this she used a Super8 camera to document Mardi Gras, events in the French Quarter, her neighbors and family, and cleaning up the damage of Hurricane Katrina, amassing around 80 rolls of film.  Hill’s images are poignant evidence of unseen neighborhoods and local culture lost in the hurricane and her love of it all.

Footage of Helen’s baby son, damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Unfortunately this footage was fated to soak in Katrina’s floodwaters and presented a huge preservation challenge that was pursued by Hill herself and a number of film archivists and archives. The grant from the Women’s Film Preservation Fund enabled the preservation of 23 minutes of this footage. Much of the footage is now archived at Harvard Film Archive.

Hill was an independent filmmaker, teacher, and animator. She is well known for her extraordinary use of drawings, paintings, photographs, cut-out paper and three dimensional cloth puppets. Her techniques expanded to include hand-processed film, found film footage, her own home movies and camera-less animation as well as traditional animation. Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, she began making animated films at the age of 11. She became a founding member of the New Orleans Film Collective and taught animation courses at the New Orleans Video Access Center while continuing to produce her own animated films. Tragically, in 2006, Helen Hill was murdered in her home.

For more information on Helen Hill and the preservation of her Home Movies:

Harvard Fillm Archive’s Hellen Hill film collection: https://library.harvard.edu/film/collections/hill.html


Kara Van Malssen, a NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program graduate, involved in the preservation effort, details the work here: http://soima.iccrom.org/united-states-experimental-film-preservation/