Flowers #3 (Kissed by the Sun) 10 min., 35mm photogram to HDV, Sil., 2023. By Philip Hoffman in collaboration with Alexander Granger and Jason O’Hara
These motion picture photograms were initiated through a five hour plunge into the darkroom; remembering the Galician celebration of flowers on the road in Baiona, near Vigo in 2019, here too we made a floral carpet of photograms. –P.Hoffman
A Procession of herbs “emerge in all their structures, colors and epidermis. The motion picture itself becomes a plant which delicately stretches petioles and petals.” – Séance #3-Sentir Comme une Plante, Muséum National d’Histoire naturelle, Paris.
EXCERPT from Film Lab to Film Farm by Kim Knowles (Experimental Film and Photochemical Practices, Palgrave MacMillan, 2021.)
Over the next few days, our world reduces to the contours of this barn and the surrounding fields, but I feel my mind expanding into new terrain. We are taught how to operate the Bolex camera, how to hand-process as negative and reversal with traditional chemistry, as well as eco-friendly formulas with local flowers and plants. We plunge ourselves into the colorful world of tinting and toning, the handmade and largely unpredictable processes that define such films as Jennifer Reeves’ We Are Going Home (1998), Eve Heller’s Behind This Soft Eclipse (2004) and Penny McCann’s Crashing Skies (2002). We experiment with solarization in the dark room, each of us secretly hoping to get results as striking as Chris Chong’s Minus (1999), an uncut stream of superimposed movements on a single roll of film that were apparently produced in one sleepless night at the barn. read more
If there is life in the BARN: it will survive. Philip Hoffman interviewed by James Holcolme
Can you talk a little about the history of the land and buildings before they became a rural lab? Can you paint a textual picture of the landscape over the seasons and how the equipment is bedded down for the winter – what do you have to do to keep quite complex machines working and functional?
I got the property in the early 1990’s, with my partner at that time Marian McMahon, with the idea of creating a kind of school for image-making. The old stone house was built by Henry Chilton in the 1880’s, and had been used for farming ever since. The farm is approximately 50 acres, and some of it is used by my neighbours for farming purposes, in exchange for various things over the years… Erwin dug the pond and built a foundation for an extension to the house. Tom plows my lane and gives me a freezer of meat every year from his grass fed animals that graze on the land. We started the workshop in 1994 with Rob Butterworth, Tracy German and Marian McMahon, and at the time my neighbour had cows in the bottom of the barn, so we had mooing sounds echoing through the barn while we screened films! The old barn, built probably in the 1920’s is an old Mennonite constructed structure, held together solely by wooden pegs. Over the years my partner, Janine Marchessault, and I have had to maintain the barn by having our friend Jon Radojkovic, who’s an expert in timber frame barns, help to keep it standing, as the barn shifts. In 2007 he did a major repair, as the barn was shifting quickly. My neighbour Wayne put some cement posts at the back of the barn and Jon tightened some of the major beams using a permanent winching system, with thick wire, and replaced some beams by jacking the barn up…the jacking is done over a few months, raising the barn a fraction of an inch every week. So the barn is in a constant state of repair. Every winter the animals, the wind and snow take over the barn. We cover everything in tarp and hope the machines start up again in the spring!
We met Philip Hoffman at Salsomaggiore Festival. He is a Canadian director, who at present also teaches cinema, photography and video at Sheridan College Media Arts Department, Oakville Ontario. He is a graduate in Media Studies and is 30 years old. He brings Europe with him as his father is German and his mother is Polish (but from Czechoslovakia). Hoffman found himself in the cinematographic art at a young age, not through heritage (he is the first filmmaker in his family) but through… I don’t knowl Where do artists come from? Hoffman had a photographic darkroom when he was 14, and, since then, he took pictures and shot autobiographical movies which later found a place in his diaristic productions. He has won awards in Canadian and American Festivals and he has participated at Edinburgh and Rotterdam Festivals.
How has he come to Salsomaggiore Film Festival in Italy? It is because Adriano Apra, Salso’s Festival Director, saw Hoffman’s films in Rotterdam and was so impressed with his work that Apra decided to invite Hoffman to Italy. Adriano Apra depicted below with Bernardo Bertolucci in Salso Film Festival 1981:
Usually the films of the Canadian Director are inspired by family life or what is happening around him; they are diaristic films and he works in a direct and uncomplicated way. “I usually do not use a script in preperation for a film. Scripts can create limits.” he says, “I take pictures and shoot films, record sound, during my travels. Each film comes to light (evolves) slowly, instinctively.”
The Road Ended at the Beach is born of 7 years (’76 – ’83) of intermittent travel through Canada and was inspired by the author of On the Road, Jack Kerouac and his idea of `spontaneous prose’. The film deals with, amongst other things, the filmmaker’s delusions and realizations with respect to living the Kerouac myth.
The film passing through/torn formations tells the personal story of the director’s mother and of her family. It gathers documents about life in Czechoslovakia and musical excerpts from recordings of the family collection, everything composed in 43 minutes. To Greek people it has been a pleasant surprize, because one can hear an excerpt composed by Manos Hatzidakis, the popular “Never on a Sunday”. Hoffman’s uncle plays the piece in the film on accordian.
Hoffman’s participation at Salsomaggiore Festival has been a sucess. Journalists requested to show his films again, and during the last day, the request was accepted by the festival organizers.
What’s Hoffman’s opinion of the Festival?
“I’m pleased. This festival is organized well… the atmosphere allows the possibility to meet people, to talk, to exchange ideas. That is very important to me.”