“One day we’ll be running around with such small cameras, our hands will become cameras.” (Barbara Rubin)
Made when she was just 18 years old, Barbara Rubin’s sexually explicit art film Christmas on Earth (1963) was her opening salvo in four years of creating films, light shows, and mixed-media events that would rattle and inspire the ’60s art scene. All of a sudden Rubin was everywhere—introducing Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the kabbalah. But, always restless, she looked for greater meaning in her life. Not long after moving to upstate New York with her close friend, the poet Allen Ginsberg, Rubin shocked one and all by converting to Hasidic Judaism and precipitously marrying, having babies, and finally retreating to live in obscurity in France, where she died in 1980 while giving birth to her fifth child. Working with material lovingly collected by Rubin’s mentor, the late Jonas Mekas, the film reveals an artist who intensely believed film could change the world.