Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board

By Stephen Broomer

© 2016

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.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Illustrations: 24
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.9in x 9.3in
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SKU# SP003750

  • PUBLISHED FEB 2016

    From: $60.75

    Regular Price: $81.00

    ISBN 9781442647787
  • PUBLISHED FEB 2016

    From: $60.75

    Regular Price: $81.00

Quick Overview

Hamilton Babylon is a fascinating study of the tension between art and business in the growth of the Canadian film industry.

Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board

By Stephen Broomer

© 2016

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.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 280 pages
  • Illustrations: 24
  • Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.9in x 9.3in
  • Reviews

    "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. "


    Jeff Fedoruk
    Canadian Literature Reviews, 234 Autumn 2017

    "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."


    David Hanley, Carleton University
    University of Toronto Quarterly, vol 87 3, Summer 2018

    Hamilton Babylon is a well-written and engaging narrative of the events that led to the creation of the McMaster Film Board, its ‘rise to fame,’ and its demise. Informative and entertaining, it will be of interest to both cinephiles and Canadianists.”


    Andre Loiselle, Department of Film Studies, Carleton University

    “Broomer has unearthed a mass of information on the McMaster Film Board, its productions, its accomplishments, and its trials, both literal and figurative.”


    Blaine Allan, Department of Film and Media, Queen's University
  • Author Information

    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.

  • Table of contents

    Chapter One: A Dangerous Precedent
    Chapter Two: Assembling Pleasure
    Chapter Three: A New President
    Chapter Four: Participatory Democracy
    Chapter Five: Seize the Projectors
    Chapter Six: Sync Sound Arrives, 1970
    Chapter Seven: The Film Board Presidents on Trial
    Chapter Eight: The Appeal
    Chapter Nine: Show Business

    Appendix: McMaster Film Board Filmography

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