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Jerome Hiler’s “Words of Mercury” at the 49th NYFF

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

A frame from Jerome Hiler’s Words of Mercury (2011)

Jerome Hiler is running his new film, the 25 minute, color, silent Words of Mercury (2011), at the 49th New York Film Festival on October 8th and 9th, 2011; here’s what he has to say about his newest work:

“At the very end of Love’s Labour Lost, as the cast is frolicking around, a messenger comes in to announce a death which brings a sudden shift to the very end of the play.  One of the most comical characters, now newly sober, ends the play with a quick dismissal of the audience: ‘The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.  You that way – we this way.’

Words of Mercury is, if nothing else, economical. It was shot on reversal film and is being screened as original. Its layers of superimpositions were all shot in the camera. Half of the many fades in the film were made by submerging the original film in a black liquid. The film is silent. The shooting ratio is low and there are areas which are unedited since taken from the camera.

I generally shoot first and ask questions later, but I’m struck at the influences that I see in Words of Mercury because they reach back to the very first times that I saw great 16mm films in the early Sixties: Marie Menken, Gregory Markopolous, Stan Brakhage and my lifetime companion Nathaniel Dorsky.”

If you’re in New York, don’t miss it.

About the Author

Wheeler Winston Dixon

Wheeler Winston Dixon, Ryan Professor of Film Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an internationally recognized scholar and writer of film history, theory and criticism. He is the author of thirty books and more than 100 articles on film, and appears regularly in national media outlets discussing film and culture trends. Frame by Frame is a collection of his thoughts on a number of those topics. All comments by Dixon on this blog are his own opinions. To contact Prof. Dixon for an interview, reach him at or

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