Artists' Television Access

Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton

Thursday, July 10, 2014, 8:00 pm, $7-$10

imagesThe world scandalized James Broughton, a sartorial-minded pre-Beat filmmaker and poet, so he, in turn, scandalized it. In Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, directors Eric Slade and Stephen Silha detail Broughton’s courage and impertinence in rejecting the heteronormative life of the 50s onward with its emphasis on frenetic consumerism and careerism. He embraced the avant-garde movement of the early 20th century by erasing the boundaries between poetry and cinema, thereby creating a new aesthetic in film. At the Cannes Film Festival, while bestowing a special award for Broughton’s 1953 film The Pleasure Garden, Jean Cocteau enthused, “Bravo! An American who made a French film in England.” Slade and Silha capture the many personalities like Pauline Kael, doyenne of the arts, with whom he had a child, and Anna Halprin, dancer and choreographer that orbited Broughton throughout his life. Broughton’s performative films heavily influenced the “happenings” of the 1960s and, later, the gay liberation movement of the 1970s. Their common denominator is the interplay of humor, play, and the id imbued with a theatrical dimension. After his 1967 effervescent filmThe Bed, the mainstream accepted sexuality in all its forms in film. Broughton erased the division between life and art, philosophy and practice, poetry and cinema, etc., creating a new idiom that defied categorization.


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