Barbara Hammer

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Barbara Hammer
Born (1939-05-15) May 15, 1939 (age 78)
Hollywood, California, US
Occupation Film director
Website Official website

Barbara Hammer (born May 15, 1939) is an American feminist filmmaker known for being one of the pioneers[1] of lesbian film whose career has spanned over 40 years. Hammer is known for creating experimental films dealing with women's issues such as gender roles, lesbian relationships and coping with aging and family.


Hammer was born in Hollywood, California, becoming familiar with the film industry from a young age, as her grandfather worked as a cook for the American film director D.W. Griffith.[2]

In 1961, Hammer graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology at University of California Los Angeles. She received a master's degree in English literature in 1963.[3] In the early 1970s she studied film at San Francisco State University. This is where she first encountered Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, which inspired her to make experimental films about her personal life.[4]

In 1974, she was married and teaching at a community college in Santa Rosa, California. Around this time she came out as a lesbian, after talking with another student in a feminist group. After leaving her marriage, she "took off on a motorcycle with a Super-8 camera." [2] That year she filmed Dyketatics which is widely considered one of the first lesbian films. She graduated with a Masters in film from San Francisco State University.

She released her first feature film, an experimental documentary, Nitrate Kisses in 1992. It was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. It won the Polar Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival and the Best Documentary Award at the Internacional de Cine Realizado por Mujeres in Madrid.

Hammer received a Post Masters in Multi-Media Digital Studies, at the American Film Institute in 1997.

In 2000 she received the Moving Image award from Creative Capital and in 2013 she was a Guggenheim Fellow.[5]

She received the first Shirley Clarke Avant-Garde Filmmaker Award in October 2006, the Women In Film Award from the St. Louis International Film Festival in 2006, and in 2009 Hammer received the Teddy Award for the best short film for her film 'A Horse Is Not A Metaphor' at the Berlin International Film Festival.[6]

In 2010, Hammer published her autobiography, HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life,[7] which addresses her personal history and her philosophies on art.[8]

She currently teaches film at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.[9]

Style and Reception[edit]

Hammer's film, Dyketactics illustrated the importance of the female body to her work, and is shot in two sequences. In the first sequence, the film depicts a group of nude women gathering in the countryside to dance, bathe, touch one another, and interact with the environment.  In the second sequence, Hammer herself is filmed sharing an intimate moment with another woman within a Bay Area house. Between the two sequences, Hammer aimed to create an erotic film that used different film language than the mainstream, heterosexual erotic films of the time.[10]

Hammer's early films utilized natural imagery, such as trees and fruit, to be associated with the female body.[10]

This style of film-making was met with mixed reactions. In a review of Hammer's films Women I Love (1976) and Double Strength (1978), critic Andrea Weiss noted, "It's become fashionable for women's bodies to be represented by pieces of fruit," and criticized Hammer for "adopting the masculine romanticized view of women." [11]


  • Schizy (1968)
  • Barbara Ward Will Never Die (1969)
  • Traveling: Marie and Me (1970)
  • The Song of the Clinking Cup (1972)
  • I Was/I Am (1973)
  • Sisters! (1974)
  • A Gay Day (1973)
  • Dyketactics (1974)
  • X (1974)
  • Women's Rites, or Truth is the Daughter of Time (1974)
  • Menses (1974)
  • Jane Brakhage (1975)
  • Superdyke (1975)
  • Psychosynthesis (1975)
  • Superdyke Meets Madame X (1975)
  • Moon Goddess (1975) – with G. Churchman
  • Eggs (1972)
  • Multiple Orgasm (1976)
  • Women I Love (1976)
  • Stress Scars and Pleasure Wrinkles (1976)
  • The Great Goddess (1977)
  • Double Strength (1978)
  • Home (1978)
  • Haircut (1978)
  • Available Space (1978)
  • Sappho (1978)
  • Dream Age (1979)
  • Lesbian Humor: Collection of short films (1980–1987)
  • Pictures for Barbara (1980)
  • Machu Picchu (1980)
  • Natura Erotica (1980)
  • See What You Hear What You See (1980)
  • Our Trip (1981)
  • Arequipa (1981)
  • Pools (1981) – with B. Klutinis
  • Synch-Touch (1981)
  • The Lesbos Film (1981)
  • Pond and Waterfall (1982)
  • Audience (1983)
  • Stone Circles (1983)
  • New York Loft (1983)
  • Bamboo Xerox (1984)
  • Pearl Diver (1984)
  • Bent Time (1984)
  • Doll House (1984)
  • Parisian Blinds (1984)
  • Tourist (1984–85)
  • Optic Nerve (1985)
  • Hot Flash (1985)
  • Would You Like to Meet Your Neighbor? A New York Subway Tape (1985)
  • Bedtime Stories (1986)
  • The History of the World According to a Lesbian (1986)
  • Snow Job: The Media Hysteria of AIDS (1986)
  • No No Nooky T.V. (1987)
  • Place Mattes (1987)
  • Endangered (1988)
  • Two Bad Daughters (1988)[12]
  • Still Point (1989)
  • T.V. Tart (1989)[12]
  • Sanctus (1990)
  • Vital Signs (1991)
  • Dr. Watson's X-Rays (1991)
  • Nitrate Kisses (1992)
  • Out in South Africa (1994)
  • Tender Fictions (1996)
  • The Female Closet (1997)
  • Devotion: A Film About Ogawa Productions (2000)
  • History Lessons (2000)[12]
  • My Babushka: Searching Ukrainian Identities (2001)
  • Resisting Paradise (2003)
  • Love/Other (2005)
  • Fucking Different New York (2007) (segment "Villa Serbolloni")
  • A Horse is not a Metaphor (2009) (Teddy Award)
  • Generations (2010)
  • Maya Deren's Sink (2011)
  • Welcome to this House (2015)



  1. ^ Youmans, Greg (2012). "Performing Essentialism: Reassessing Barbara Hammer's Films of the 1970s" (PDF). Camera Obscura. 27: 100–135. 
  2. ^ a b DiFeliciantonio, Tina. "Barbara Hammer." Bomb 43 (Spring 1993).
  3. ^ "CV". 
  4. ^ Sally Berger (2010). Butler, Connie, ed. Modern Women. New York: Museum of Modern Art. p. 309. 
  5. ^ John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellows
  6. ^ Barbara Hammer Faculty page at European Graduate School (Accessed June 2, 2010) Archived April 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Hammer, Barbara (2010). HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life. New York: The Feminist Press at CUNY. ISBN 978-1-55861-612-7. 
  8. ^ Katterjohn, Anna; Barbara Hammer (February 15, 2010). "Filmic Herstory". Library Journal. 135 (3): 29. ISSN 0363-0277. 
  9. ^ "Barbara Hammer- The European Graduate School". The European Graduate School. 
  10. ^ a b Youmans, Greg (September 2012). "Performing Essentialism: Reassessing Barbara Hammer's Films of the 1970s.". Camera Obscura. doi:10.1215/02705346-1727473. 
  11. ^ Weiss, Andrea (1981). "Women I Love, Double Strength: Lesbian Cinema and Romantic Love". Jump Cut. 
  12. ^ a b c These artworks can be found in "The repository of the Experimental Television Center". Experimental Television Center- Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art. Cornell University Library. Retrieved June 24, 2015. 

Further reading[edit]


  • Alexandra Juhasz, editor (2001). Women of Vision: Histories in Feminist Film and Video. University of Minnesota Press.

External links[edit]