“Philip Hoffman is a precious resource, one of the few contemporary filmmakers whose work provides a bridge to the classical themes of death, diaspora, memory, and, finally, transcendence. As Landscape With Shipwreck makes clear, Hoffman explores these most Canadian of themes without grandiosity; instead they emerge from stories held close to the ground, the family, and personal experience, whether at home or in very unfamiliar places indeed. And he does so through a constant renovation of method that enriches the viewers’ ability to grasp how film form contains and conditions meaning. This is just the sort of human voice articulated through film that we desperately need amidst the thunder of corporate media in all forms.” (“Landscape with Shipwreck: 1st Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman”, Insomniac Press/Images Festival 2001)
Stan Brakhage on `passing through/torn formations’
“passing through/torn formations accomplishes a multi-faceted experience for the viewer—it is a poetic document of Family, for instance—but Philip Hoffman’s editing throughout is true to thought process, tracks visual theme as the mind tracks shape, makes melody of noise and words as the mind recalls sound.”
Mike Hoolboom on `passing through/torn formations’
Hoffman’s sixth film in ten years, passing through/torn formations is a generational saga laid over three picture rolls that rejoins in its symphonic montage the broken remnants of a family separated by war, disease, madness and migration. Begun in darkness with an extract from Christopher Dewdney’s Predators of the Adoration, the poet narrates the story of ‘you,’ a child who explores an abandoned limestone quarry….The film’s theme of reconciliation begins with death’s media/tion—and moves its broken signifiers together in the film’s central image, ‘the corner mirror,’ two mirrored rectangles stacked at right angles. This looking glass offers a ‘true reflection,’ not the reversed image of the usual mirror but the objectified stare of the Other. When Rimbaud announces ‘I am another’ he does so in a gesture that unites traveller and teller, confirming his status within the story while continuing to tell it. It is the absence of this distance, this doubling that leads the Czech side of the family to fatality.
Philip Hoffman is one of the most influential experimental film artists working in Canada today. He has created a remarkable and sustained body of media art over nearly four decades in that has had an immense impact on several generations of Canadian experimental filmmakers and digital moving image artists.
His enduring impact is seen in the development of personal filmmaking, techniques of hand-processing and artisanal production, and the method of process cinema. His work combines sensitively observational documentary aesthetics, attentive to small gestures and humanist themes, with innovative forms of cinematic experimentation. Hoffman’s inquiry is tied to a deep sense of social responsibility and a profound commitment to pedagogy and to community.
– Michael Zryd, Associate Professor, Department of Cinema & Media Arts, York University
Philip Hoffman and Eva Kolcze will be conducting a touring process cinema workshop based on the Film Farm, one in Northern Ontario and one in London in association with the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto.
“Process Cinema explores a creative tradition in alternative filmmaking that is improvisational and interactive. Through this process-driven methodology, the screenplay as governing document is replaced by a fluid integration of writing, shooting and editing, not necessarily in that order.This way of working ‘through’ process has a comparative body of work in music, through jazz, in art, through ‘action painting’, in the performative aspects of the sketchbook or through ‘spontaneous prose’ in beat poetry.”
Philip Hoffman has been developing a hands-on, artisanal approach to filmmaking for more than 20 years in Canada at his summer workshop, the `Independent Imaging Retreat’ or `Film Farm’. Now this process-oriented workshop comes to the UK with a 2-day intensive project, ‘the Lux Film Farm’ hosted by Lux and the Double Negative Dark Room in proximity to the Hackney Marshes in East London.