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Joel Singer

Born in Montreal, Canada in 1948, it was at 12 that I first discovered the enchantment of image-making when I set up a black & white darkroom in the basement of our family home. I never tired of the mysterious alchemy of images manifesting in chemical baths.

After several unhappy years in our family-owned furniture business, it was in an introductory ceramics class that I discovered the joy of creating beautiful things from mud; eventually I returned to college majoring in fine arts and encountered the magic of cinema. Film quickly became my passion, and I began to dream of leaving Canada in order to leap into the great renaissance in avant-garde cinema afoot in the U.S.A.

My search for graduate schools began in 1974 when I had the good fortune to visit San Francisco and sit in on a film history class taught by poet/filmmaker James Broughton at the San Francisco Art Institute.

My life changed instantly. I knew without question that James and San Francisco were it!

We spent the next 15 years in the Bay Area, sharing fully in art and life: we collaborated on 7 films and I designed and handset several volumes of his poetry.

My photo collages appear as cover art on a number of volumes of his work.

We spent most of 1984/85 traveling in Europe showing our films and James giving poetry readings.

Both the German and Austrian Filmmuseums honoured us with complete retrospectives of our films, both solo and collaborative and acquiring all of the work for their collections.


In 1988 I received an NEA grant and made our last film SCATTERED REMAINS.

In 1989 we moved to the Pacific Northwest settling in Port Townsend, Washington were we spent the last decade of James' life. I became part of an artist's cooperative gallery and my own photographic collage work thrived.

After James died in 1999 I moved to New York City where I spent most of a decade. I met my current partner there in 2004. He was building his dream house in Bali (where James and I honeymooned in the late 70s). We moved here in 2009 and I returned to filmmaking after a 20 year hiatus. A number of the films I've made since moving to Bali are now available here digitally.

Films