Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Tom 2002

Directed by Mike Hoolboom

Canada In English
75 minutes Beta-SP

Director, Screenplay, Producer


Caspar Stracke
Mike Hoolboom

Additional photography

Jason Boughton
Martin Meyer
Gary Popovich
Velcrow Ripper
Jay Rosenblatt


Mike Hoolboom
Mark Karbusicky


Tom Chomont


Berlin 2002


"‘One of the pleasures of the fetish scene is you don’t have to be beautiful to be a narcissist,’ says New York photographer and filmmaker Tom Chomont. ‘All of the ugly kids from high school can have their day in the spotlight.’ It’s hard to believe that Chomont was ever one of the ugly kids, but he certainly gets his day in the spotlight in this avant-garde documentary by Mike Hoolboom. In Tom, Chomont’s life unfurls in a style as unique as his own story. Found footage and archival film (including a fascinating survey of New York City over the years), home movies, photos and new video ‘stream past in a hypnotic rush’, says Hoolboom, ‘offering a subject whose skin is cinema, whose flesh and blood have been remade into the picture plane’. Add in Chomont’s recollections of infanticide, a mobster’s love, sex with his own brother, S&M, fetishism, visions of a white light that illuminates both the beginning and end of life, and excerpts from some of his own films – from 1968’s Phase of the Moon to 90s films such as Sadistic Self-Portrait and Head Shot – and Tom evolves into a deeply emotional portrait of a lifelong outlaw now battling both HIV and Parkinson’s disease. This is a film that evokes as much as it depicts, and alludes as much as it describes. Hoolboom calls it ‘cinema as déjà vu or déjà voodoo’. We call it one of the most spellbinding and unforgettable films in this year’s Festival." — San Francisco International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 

The history of a city, New York City, the most photographed city in the world, operates as a backdrop for the life of Tom Chomont, a key member of the New York underground, a notorious video artist, AIDS sufferer, raconteur… This is a biography about biographies. Tom travels the length of his own life without arriving. Perhaps the most important parts of his own life are never witnessed, experienced or understood by him. The unconscious. The stolen footage is a way to reflect on a new kind of identity (socially formed, as an image). This biography is made possible, inevitable even, by the society of the spectacle. — Mike Hoolboom