The Ontario Cinematheque is a wonderous screening facility in Toronto which ran, for many years, a program called Carte Blanche where invited filmmakers were asked to show their own work along with others who have influenced their practice. The following notes were published in the Fall 1992 guide of the Ontario Cinematheque. All notes by Philip Hoffman.
Philip Hoffman Carte Blanche
Films alone most often do not deeply touch me. But spending time with the maker(s), breathing their practice – this is the space in which I find real growth and sharing. In this light, I present a program that expresses an archaeology of vital meetings for me in film and life.
At the fiery 1984 Grierson Seminar, I met Peter Greenaway and his ‘anti-documentaries’ THE FALLS (1980) and its formal reverse, ACT OF GOD (1981). Where THE FALLS stages interviews, ACT OF GOD evolves through a series of `real’ interviews. Meeting Peter and seeing these two works swept away whatever realist tendencies I still had left in my work, the effect of far too many documentaries purporting objectivity, order, truth, in contemporary times of raging chaos. My response, following a sojourn to the set of Greenaway’s feature A ZED AND TWO NOUGHTS, was ?O,ZOO! (1986), a testament to making `the real’ disappear.
In 1978 the Art Gallery of Ontario hosted `Autobiography: Film/Video/ Photo’, another event that helped bring to light elements of a practice and vision which were beginning to shape my own. Jonas Mekas stood spot lit, Bolex in shopping bag beside him, DIARIES, NOTES AND SKETCHES on the screen – a passion for collecting images of the `everyday’, every day, and a process for `living cinema.’ CASSIS (1966) by Mekas is a quiet cine-poem, a haiku of a small port in the south of France; all day and into the evening boats pass as light and color go through their changes.
Maya Deren’s work turns the program inward, her enchanted landscapes speak to the ineffable qualities of dream and trance. In AT LAND (1944), Deren finds new temporal structures through repetition, and an advanced narrative form using ‘dream-time-space’ as a beginning.
There isn’t time to have some films in this program, for example my favourite film, Chris Marker’s SANS SOLEIL, is a regular at the Cinematheque and is again this season in the Marker retrospective. Besides that there are many more works and makers that have touched me. Like MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA, NUIT ET BROUILLARD, WAVELENGTH, THRILLER, THE ANGELIC CONVERSATION, NURSING HISTORY, HIGHWAY 61, Melies, Lefebvre, Jarman, Epp, Kerr, Sternberg, Watkins, Popovich, Chambers, INSIDE SILENCE, HAMMU, HART OF LONDON, STEPS TO THE HARBOUR, McMahon, Snow, Lipsett, Lock, Cook, CHRONIQUE DE LA VIE QUOTIDIENNE, Egoyan, Cartmell, Frenkel, McGowan, SIFTED EVIDENCE, 11 X 14, NIGHT MAIL, ELEGY, THE JOURNEY, FAMILY VIEWING, THIGH LINE LYRE TRIANGULAR, MATERNAL FILIGREE, RESONANCE, THE GARDEN, GHOSTS BEFORE BREAKFAST, 1857 (FOOLS GOLD), HAWKESVILLE TO WALLEN
STEIN, CITY OF GOLD, ART OF WORLDLY WISDOM, OL’ YELLER, Hoolboom, Thorne, Rimmer, Razutis, Brown, RE: ENTRY, YOU TAKE CARE NOW, Porter, Mettler, Gronau, Leduc, Lebeau, Sanguedolce, CANAL, WILD SYNC, THE BOYS, Soul, Brakhage, Godard, Camus, Kerouac, Stein, Basho, Cage, TECHNOLOGY OF TEARS, Frank, Dewdney,Shikatani, Glass, AT PRESENT, WORK BIKE AND EAST…”
?O,ZOO! (THE MAKING OF A FICTION FILM)
Canada 1986 23 minutes
Director: Philip Hoffman
ACT OF GOD: LIGHTNING
Great Britain 1981, 25 minutes
Director: Peter Greenaway
USA 1966, 4 minutes (NEW PRINT)
Director: Jonas Mekas
USA 1944, 14 minutes
Director: Maya Deren
Canada 1992 – ongoing, 10 minutes
Director: Philip Hoffman
Canada 1988,12 minutes
Director: Stephen Butson
PLEASE DON’T STOP
Canada 1988, 5 minutes
Director: Stephanie Maxwell