Swimming in the Valley of the Moon
White Light Cinema and the Nightingale
present Three Films by Peter Hutton


The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N. Milwaukee
Sunday, November 20th, 7 pm, $7-10

This year, the experimental film world lost one of its keenest eyes.

Peter Hutton was an elegant ruffian, a casual radical, insistent on looking deeply, on seeing as seeking, on stilling oneself and attuning one’s sense of time to match the place. The films tonight, like most of his oeuvre, are presented in silence.

Hutton’s films find their place in the trajectory of landscape art. The twin artistic influences that dominated Hutton’s early creative life were East Asian aesthetic philosophies and his experience as a merchant marine. He remarked often that this trained him to see. It was a skill that he continued to hone over four and a half decades. He worked slowly: shooting and exploring, watching and re-watching, maintaining and honing a clarity of vision as patient as it was explorative. His films are transportive—not simply to the times and places of their making, but for our senses of seeing. This work is gorgeous—it can make celluloid fetishists of the most hardened viewer—and leaves the viewer in a state of grace, unencumbered by trying to explain its virtues. In addition to the internal composition and tonality of his images, his film are guided by his dedication to revealing stillness in motion and motion in stillness, a devotion to the poethics of sequence and a trust in both his subjects: those opposite his lens and those before the screen. We are made more patient through his films.

Tonight’s screening features a very early work, made in graduate school, which diaristically traces his life at the time and his Bay Area countercultural milieu; one of the many excellent films he made of the eponymous river over the thirty-plus years he lived in the Hudson River Valley, teaching at Bard; and a city symphony for Łódź in the midst of a transformation. We hope you can join us for this too-rare opportunity to honor the life and work of Peter Hutton. (JM)


July ’71 in San Francisco, Living at Beach Street, Working at Canyon Cinema, Swimming in the Valley of the Moon (1971, 35 minutes, 16mm)

Study of A River (1997, 16 minutes, 16mm)

Łódź Symphony (1991–93, 20 minutes, 16mm)

Programmed by Patrick Friel (White Light Cinema) and Jesse Malmed (The Nightingale)

Peter Hutton (1944-2016) studied painting, sculpture and film at the San Francisco Art Institute. Since 1989, he served as the director of the Film and Electronic Arts Program at Bard College. Additionally, he taught at CalArts, Hampshire College, Harvard University and SUNY Purchase. Hutton’s films are distributed by Canyon Cinema in San Francisco, and his works have been included in numerous Whitney Biennials (1985, 1991, 1995, 2004). In May 2008, the Museum of Modern Art in New York held a full retrospective of Hutton’s films. He received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, DAAD Berliner, Rockefeller Foundation, Dutch Film Critics Award, and the Guggenheim Fellowship.

Filed under: 16mm, autobiography, documentary, environmental, experimental, film, travel