Short biography of James Broughton
James Broughton is a distinguished San Francisco poet, who, although he has produced many books and plays, is most widely known for his important work in avant-garde cinema. He is, in fact, one of the few American poets actively engaged in filmmaking.
Broughton was an original member of the Art in Cinema group at the San Francisco Museum in the late forties, which launched the post war experimental film movement in the United States. His first film MOTHER'S DAY, made in 1948, is now considered a classic of poetic cinema and is included in the collections of the major film museums of Europe. Other films of this early period include the popular short comedy LOONY TOM, as well as FOUR IN THE AFTERNOON and ADVENTURES OF JIMMY. Under the sponsorship of the British Film Institute in 1953 he made a longer film in London, a comic fantasy called THE PLEASURE GARDEN. This was awarded a special jury prize at the Cannes Festival of 1954.
In the late fifties and early sixties Broughton was a member of the San Francisco Renaissance poets and is included in THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY anthology of that period edited by Donald Allen. He has published ten books of poetry, including MUSICAL CHAIRS, TRUE AND FALSE UNICORN and TIDINGS, and his collected poems, A LONG UNDRESSING, will be published by Jonathan Williams in 1971. He has given many public readings of his poetry, the liveliest a program with the harpist Joel Andrews which has been issued as a recording THE BARD AND THE HARPER.
Broughton was resident playwright from 1958 to 1964 with the Playhouse Repertory Theater in San Francisco where six of his plays were first performed, most notably, THE LAST WORD and THE RITES OF WOMEN. During 1969 he was Playwright Fellow at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Foundation in Waterford, Conn, where his concurrent play BEDLAM was produced.
Broughton returned to active filmmaking in 1968 with THE BED, a work commissioned by the Royal Film Archive of Belgium. This "horizontal prayer to life" won prizes at many festivals in Europe and the United States. In 1969 his alchemical wedding film, NUPTIAE, was honored at the Yale Film Festival and Ann Arbor. In 1970 his celebration of the human body, THE GOLDEN POSITIONS, won grand prize at the Bellevue Film Festival in Washington and was selected for the New York Festival at Lincoln Center.
Broughton was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1970-71. He teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute and at San Francisco State College and has lectured widely here and abroad. He lives in Mill Valley with his artist wife and their two children.