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Christmas On Earth
Barbara Rubin16mm, black and white, silent, 30 minRental formats: 16mm, Digital file
Barbara Rubin (1945 – 1980) was an American filmmaker and performance artist. She is best known for her landmark 1963 film Christmas on Earth.
Barbara Rubin grew up in the Cambria Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York City. In the spring of 1963, she was hired by Jonas Mekas to work for the Film-Makers' Cooperative. Rubin soon became indispensable to Mekas, organizing local and international events. "Her contributions are so many and different," Mekas said in 2003. "....Her life story still has to be written because she was very, I think, important."
Christmas on Earth was inspired by Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures, over which Rubin clashed with censors alongside Mekas and P. Adams Sitney. Rubin's use of superimposition, and her decision to slice the original footage into "dynamic fragments," may have been influenced by the films of Jerry Jofen and Gregory Markopoulos.
The film has been described by critics as "among the most radical ever made"; "far and away the most sexually explicit film produced by the pre-porn underground"; and "an essential document of queer and feminist cinema."
Due to its explicit nature, the New York City police tried to suppress the film; for a time during the mid-1960s Rubin habitually carried her one copy around with her for safekeeping.
Rubin left New York in the late sixties, married, and joined a Hasidic sect. She died of a postnatal infection in France in 1980 after giving birth to her fifth child. She was 35.