Welcome to This House
ArCH Film Festival at HCAF
Welcome to This House is a feature documentary film on the homes and loves of poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), about life in the shadows, and the anxiety of art making without full self-disclosure. Hammer filmed in Bishop’s ‘best loved homes’ in the U.S., Canada, and Brazil, believing that buildings and landscapes bear cultural memories.
Bishop has gained notoriety as much for her tempestuous romance with Lota de Macedo Soares as for her poetry. While that affair inspired a book and a movie (Reaching for the Moon), Hammer’s documentary broadens the focus and puts the Lota affair in context. Examining Bishop from all angles and interviewing everyone from literary luminaries like Marie-Claire Blais and Edmund White to Lota’s aged former maid, Hammer pulls the viewer into Bishop’s world, blending present day footage of each location with archival photos, and recreating moments in the writer’s life. Bishop’s intimate poetry is beautifully performed by Kathleen Chalfant, and the creative music composition by Joan La Barbara brings Bishop into our lives with new ways and unexpected details.
Hammer is careful to keep the film’s focus primarily on a sensorial experience of Bishop’s work and chosen habitat, which at its best becomes a polymorphous evocation of the sonorous affects permeating Bishop’s physical and psychological milieu.
– Clayton Dillard, Slant Magazine
Directed by Barbara Hammer
Written by Barbara Hammer
Cinematography by Barbara Hammer and Stephanie Testa
Editing by Barbara Hammer
Music by Joan La Barbara
Cast: Kathleen Chalfant, Barbara Hammer, Erin Miller