Sensory Overload

The Hyperreal Film Club Summer Series at the Museum of Human Achievement

(l-r) Tanner Hadfield, Jenni Kaye, David McMichael
(l-r) Tanner Hadfield, Jenni Kaye, David McMichael (Courtesy of Melissa Cha)

Despite the efforts of our expansive film-loving community, it is still difficult to find free events where one might see psychotropic Lithuanian art films paired with live abstract experimental performance.

For nearly a year, the Hyperreal Film Club has been trying to rectify that. The founders, Tanner Hadfield, David McMichael, and Jenni Kaye, each have a particular creative focus: Hadfield is trained in creative writing; McMichael works at the Paramount Theatre; and Kaye markets an Austin-based boutique music label, Pleasure Cruise Press.

As Hadfield puts it, "This whole idea came from wanting to start a community and create unique live events and experiences, to fill holes that people aren't filling. Film wound up being the meeting ground between those things."

The club's activities began last year when McMichael approached DEMO Gallery about collaborating on live events. The trio had found the city to be "a very expensive place to live," and "wanted to help people out."

"Most of the screenings I want to go to turn out to be $14 for a ticket and $6 for a can of beer. It adds up very quickly," Hadfield notes. DEMO Gallery eventually paired up with the group, and "have been endlessly helpful in putting together events …. Those people have the purest hearts."

For its inaugural Summer Series, the Hyperreal Film Club chose the Museum of Human Achievement. Every Tuesday night through September, the program "features local filmmakers' [shorts] before each screening, and sometimes live music performances by local artists: synth wave, folk, what have you." MoHA is always cozy, the booze is BYOB, and there is a $5 suggested donation, but only so Hadfield, who curates the features, "can actually pay distributors."

As for the movies themselves, they are among the most conscientiously diverse, avant-garde, and polarizing being programmed anywhere in Austin. Like Experimental Response Cinema or CinemaTexas before it, Hyperreal draws exclusively from near-underground (or at least aggressively independent) artistic communities around the world.

Here's Hadfield: "Hyperreal films are idiosyncratic, interested in the creation of original filmic language. Other people have told me that the films we show are at the intersection of arthouse and genre, which is a cool designation."

Recent programs, like Window on Your Present from Cinqué Lee (Spike Lee's brother), or Lucile Hadzihalilovic's Innocence, left the audiences bonded by their full immersion in a surreal intensity; and upcoming screenings, like the Freudian psycho-anthology collective:unconscious, promise similarly nutty vibes. But it is also important to Hadfield that "these films be directed by women, people of color, and/or LGBTQ-identifying directors" – a standard to which McMichael, who programs the shorts, also adheres.

The museum does not publish its address, however, so the best way to become a Hyperreal member is to email for locations and additional series, like its self-explanatory "Private Home Viewings" on Thursdays. Hadfield welcomes any comers who want more than "to gawk at a spectacle." He says: "As long as it inspires the creation of more art, we are open to whatever."

Hyperreal Film Club Summer Series

Three Crowns of the Sailor (1983)
Hyperreal Film Club. @Museum of Human Achievement, Tue., June 27, 8:15pm.

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Hyperreal Film Club, Museum of Human Achievement

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