Begun with a speech by Vito Russo, "Letters" enjoins a chorus of speakers to sound off on AIDS, love and death. Impelled with a variety of formal procedures, this series of mini-portraits are generously furbished with found footage extracts, hand-processed dilemmas, home movies, super-8 psychodramas, pixilated phantasms, intergalactic warfare and a hot kiss in a cool shower.
"Mike Hoolboom has produced an absolutely sensational work, not only by the extreme density and intelligence of the witnesses who appear in the film, but also by the visual quality and inventiveness of his cinematographic language. Each shot, each edit has a message of pure aesthetics in this film. An overwhelming and luminescent reflection on death, AIDS and the living. Fifteen minutes to live!" - Image and Nation Catalogue, Montreal
"For a work which transforms and transcends the essay film, for its stunning vision and intensely moving testimony of life in the age of AIDS, the 1996 NFB-John Spotton Award goes to Mike Hoolboom's 'Letters From Home.'" - Toronto International Film Festival Short Film Jury
"'Letters From Home' is an impassioned investigation of the politics of disease. It is also something more. If a full comprehension of life including the recognition of death's constant presence, even in our death-denying culture, 'Letters' offers a cogent, courageous rendering of this notion. It also demonstrates again that the penetrating and poignant films of Mike Hoolboom comprise one of Canadian cinema's most compelling illuminations of those ephemeral outlines of perception we call life and death." - Tom McSorley, Take One
"'Letters From Home' is an intensely moving testimony of life in the age of AIDS. A speech by Vito Russo, in which he suggests that we all live with AIDS whether we are infected or not, is divided into a diaspora of texts read by many different people. Hoolboom adds his own narrative of seropositivity marking the discontinuity of his voice and the others through a montage of found footage, hand-held shots, home movies, super-8 sequences, pixilated phantasms and a hot kiss in a cool shower." - Hot Docs Festival Catalogue, 1997
"An overwhelming and luminescent reflection on death, AIDS and living, 'Letters From Home' is a compelling montage of mini-portraits intercut with found footage, home movies, super-8 drama and pixilated imagery." - Sheffield International Documentary Catalogue, 1997
Awards: Best Experimental, Oregon Film Festival, 1998; Honorable Mention, Arcigay Arcilbica Il Cassero, Bologna, 1998; Best International Short, Encontros International de Cine Documental, 1997; Best Independent Film and Best Experimental Film, Canadian International Amateur Film Festival, 1997; Interfilm Jury Prize, Oberhausen, 1997; Alexander Scotti Prize, Oberhausen, 1997; Best Experimental Short Documentary, Hot Docs, 1997; Jury Award, Ann Arbor Festival, 1997; Best Canadian Short Film, Toronto International Festival, 1996