Warren Sonbert / Tom Chomont

Thursday, April 26, 2012, 8:30 pm
Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012


Warren Sonbert:
Amphetamine (with Wendy Appel), 16mm, B&W, 10 min., 1966
Divided Loyalties, 16mm, Color, 22 min., 1975-78
Honor and Obey, 16mm, Color, 21 min., 1987

Tom Chomont:
Jabbok, 16mm, B&W, 3 min., 1967
Razor Head, 16mm, Color, 4 min., 1984
Slash Portrait, Video, Color, 7 min., 1994

Dirty Looks is thrilled to present the work of Warren Sonbert and Tom Chomont, two key figures in queer and underground film. From the late sixties until their untimely deaths (in 1995 and 2010, respectively) Warren Sonbert and Tom Chomont made some of the most innovative and thrilling film and video diaries around. Documenting queer experience from wild sixties drug cultures to the regressive, Reaganite years of the early AIDS crisis, these lyrical works delve into the quotidian, showcasing explicit drug use, S&M rituals, kittens at play, hardcore sexuality, and Grace Jones.

Sonbert co-directed his first film, Amphetamine, with Wendy Appel, while still a teenager. At the time of its release in 1967, the Village Voice praised Amphetamine as "a heart-stopping film … completely symptomatic of the filmmaking revolution." An ecstatic ode to queer sex and drugs, its two boys shooting up and kissing to a Supremes soundtrack, Amphetamine marked the arrival of Sonbert on the underground film scene. Divided Loyalties showcases the brilliant camera work and rapid editing Sonbert is famous for, leading Amy Taubin to praise it as his "most complex and richest film to date," upon its release. Honor and Obey questions all forms of male-dominated authority, military, religious, familial.

In Jabbok, Chomont reimagines Jacob wrestling the angel all night by the river Jabbok, mixing, as much of his work does, mysticism with eroticism. In Razor Head, Chomont is shaved by his older brother, in a highly charged erotic ritual. Lastly, the BDSM-themed Slash Portrait, made after Chomont transitioned to video, offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of his lover, in leather with his obedient slave.

The event will also feature a complimentary publication featuring writings and original artwork.

Image copyright estate of Warren Sonbert, courtesy of Canyon Cinema