Betzy Bromberg

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Betzy Bromberg is an American director, editor, and experimental filmmaker. She is the Director of the Program in Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been shown at the Rotterdam, London, Edinburgh, Sundance and Vancouver Film Festivals as well as the Museum of Modern Art (New York City), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the San Francisco Cinematheque, the Harvard Film Archive (Cambridge), Anthology Film Archives (New York City), the National Film Theater (London), The Vootrum Centrum (Belgium) and the Centre Georges Pompidou (France).[1]

Bromberg studied at CalArts in the late 1970s with Chick Strand, and for many years was an optical effects supervisor in the special effects industry.[2]

Betzy Bromberg
OccupationDirector of the Program in Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts. Visual Effects Supervisor, Film Director, Cinematographer, Writer, Editor, Camera and Electrical Crew, Producer, Professor.
Years active1976-present


Bromberg was originally studying journalism, then photography before she became a filmmaker[3]. Bromberg started making her first films during her last year at Sara Lawrence College in 1977[3]. She studied both film and electronic music. After she graduated from college, Betzy Bromberg relocated to Los Angeles and studied at CalArts under Chick Strand. Later, she spent twenty years in Hollywood industry as an optical effects supervisor. In 2001, she became the Director of the Program in Film and Video at CalArts[4], after the industry abandoned analog effects. [5]


Bromberg’s earlier films were influenced by the city of New York, where she spent her college career. She is known for her experimental avant-garde stylistic approach in cinema, although Bromberg started her career with narrative films. In most of her works she experiments with the intersection of documentary and avant-garde.[5]

Bromberg's work in the Hollywood industry of optical effects allowed her to carry over technical and problem solving skills to her experimental work without detriment to its avant-garde themes.[6] Additionally, her experimental film works have all been shot in 16mm, an analog medium which Bromberg says she will work with until "either I'm done or it's done," in reference to the dominance of digital filmmaking in Hollywood.[7]

The style of Bromberg's experimental films is described as slowly evolving into the abstract, consciously free of the special effects of her industry career, and evocative of "a retrieval of a kind of visual innocence." [7] Bromberg's use of light and the transformation of the movement of light over time is the basis of her filmmaking and can be seen throughout her works.[7]

Directorial filmography[edit]

Film Name Details
Glide of Transparency 2016, 16mm, color, sound, 89 minutes, a film in three parts.

The third experimental film following a Darkness Swallowed and Voluptuous Sleep.

Sound: Betzy Bromberg, Dane A. Davis, Stephen Small, Robert Allaire, Pam Aronoff

Vocals: Pam Aronoff; sound mix: Dane A. Davis.[8]

Voluptuous Sleep 2011, 16mm, color/sound, 95 minutes, experimental film

Part I: Language is a Skin

Sound and Music: Dane A. Davis, Zack Settel, Jean-Pierre Bedoyan, Pam Aronoff, James Rees, and Betzy Bromberg

Part II: And the Night Illuminated the Night

Sound and Music: Robert Allaire, performed by the Formalist Quartet

Screened and exhibited:

Premiered at REDCAT; festival premiere at the New York Film Festival: View From The Avant-Guard.

The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (BAFICI 2012), the Bradford International Film Festival (United Kingdom), the CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre of Performing Arts (Montreal) as part of Suoni per iI Popolo Avant-Garde Music Festival, and the Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain)


50th Ann Arbor Film Festival (2011)[8]

A Darkness Swallowed 2005, 16mm color/sound, 78 minutes, experimental film[8]

Director and Editor: Betzy Bromberg; Camera: Bromberg

Music: Zack Settel, Jean-Pierre Bedoyan, Paul B. Cutler, Pam Aronoff, Jacob Ross, Dane A. Davis, Bromberg

Resin Effects: Stephen Small[9]

Screened and exhibited:

2006 Sundance Film Festival, the Seoul Film Festival (South Korea), the Athens International Film Festival (Greece), the Bradford International Film Festival (England), Seattle International Film Festival (Washington), the Centro de Cultura Contemporanea de Barcelona, (Spain), and Ponrepo, theater of the Czech National Film Archives (Prague, Czech Republic)[10].

Divinity Gratis 1996, 16mm, color, sound, 59 minutes,[8] documentary/experimental[11]

Director, Editor, and Producer: Betzy Bromberg

Cast: Duchess DeSade, Claire Dishman, Dianna Rose, Zack Settel, Kory Ivy Vence, Kirby White

Music: Kirby White

Cinematography: Brian Bailey, Betzy Bromberg, Claire Dishman, Dinana Rose

Sound: Dane A. Davis

Other: Peter L. Levine[12]

Body Politic (God Melts Bad Meat) 1988, 16mm, color/sound, 40 min.[8]
Temptation 1987, 16mm, color, sound, 4 minutes, music video[8]

Director: Betzy Bromberg, for Tom Waits[13]

AZ lz 1983, 16mm, color, sound, 21 minutes[8]
Marasmus 1981, 16mm, color, sound, 21 minutes, collaborated with Laura Ewig[8]
Ciao Bella 1979, 16mm, color/sound, 13 minutes[8]
Petit Mal 1978, 16mm, color, sound, 18 minutes[8]
You Can Practically Taste It With Your Eyes 1977, Super-8, color, sound, 45 minutes, collaborated with Lauren Abrams[8]
Screaming Susan 1977, Super-8, B/W animation, 3 minutes[8]
Tachycardia 1977, Super-8, hand-processed, color, sound, 80 minutes[8]


2011 Voluptuous Sleep Series

  • premiered at the 2011 New York Film Festival: Views From The Avant-Garde.
  • listed as one of the Best Films for 2011 in both the New York Times and Indiewire.
  • Awarded the Stan Brakhage award at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival.
  • Premiered at the Bradford International Film Festival in the United Kingdom.
  • Premiered at the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente, BAFICI in 2012.
  • Premiered at Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, BAFICI in 2007.

2005 Darkness Swallowed


  1. ^
  2. ^ James, Davd E.. The Most Typical Avant-Garde: History and Geography of Minor Cinemas in Los Angeles. University of California Press, 2005. p. 355.
  3. ^ a b Murray, Nick (2007). "Cinemad Betzy Bromberg". Cinemad.
  4. ^ "Administration and Staff". CalArts. 2018.
  5. ^ a b Avant-doc : intersections of documentary and avant-garde cinema. MacDonald, Scott, 1942-. Oxford. ISBN 9780199388707. OCLC 880349724.
  6. ^ Turnock, Julie A. (2015). Plastic Reality: Special Effects, Technology, and the Emergence of 1970s Blockbuster Aesthetics. Columbia University Press. pp. 155–156. ISBN 9780231163521.
  7. ^ a b c MacDonald, Scott (2014). Avant-Doc: Intersections of Documentary and Avant-Garde Cinema. Oxford University Press. pp. 23, 314–324. ISBN 9780199388738.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Skirball, Jack H. "Betzy Bromberg: Glide of Transparency" (PDF). REDCAT.
  9. ^ Koehler, Robert (2006-02-07). "A Darkness Swallowed". Variety.
  10. ^ "USC Cinematic Arts | School of Cinematic Arts Events".
  11. ^ Levy, Emanuel. "Divinity Gratis (1997): Betzy Blumberg's Sundance Docu".
  12. ^ "Divinity Gratis (1995)".
  13. ^ "The 11 Best Tom Waits Music Videos | Down in the Hole Podcast". Down in the Hole. 2016-02-24.

External links[edit]