On Jan. 4, just before 5:30 a.m., Helen Hill heard a noise at the front door of her home in New Orleans' Marigny neighborhood. When she and her husband got out of bed to investigate, they were shot repeatedly. Hill, a respected animator and experimental filmmaker, died along with six other New Orleans residents in a 24-hour wave of violence that has come to symbolize the rampant crime that still grips the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In homage to Hill, Squeaky Wheel Media Arts Center will present a collection of her films as part of its free annual outdoor animation festival at 9 p.m. Saturday in Days Park. Hill's work, ranging from stop-action cutouts and puppetry to pixelated live action, possesses a unique hand-hewn quality for which she was recognized around the country. In "Madame Winger Makes a Film," Hill shows viewers the techniques behind her filmmaking and encourages others to make their own attempts. Cotton candy features highly in some of Hill's work, so the Squeaky Wheel crew will have plenty of the sweet stuff on hand for the screening.
In post-Katrina New Orleans, where crime continues to run rampant, Hill was given a jazz funeral to celebrate her life and work. And despite tragedy heaped on tragedy and insult added to injury, Hill's work, like the city she loved, will live on.
-- Colin Dabkowski