(16mm to HDV, 94 min., 2009)
Anamnesis by Attrition: Philip Hoffman’s All Fall Down by Tom Kohut
“In a film that consists as a series of displacements, its hard to know where to begin. It would be facile to suggest that time is spatialized (the characteristic of Jamesonian postmodernism) or, conversely, that space registers the vertical imprint of its diachonic totality (Derridean hauntology). But something very like that happens in Philip Hoffman’s All Fall Down (2009). So one has to be careful here – the lives of actual people, and their deaths, are at stake here.” (read more)
Description: All Fall Down is an experimental documentary that takes as its starting point a nineteenth century farmhouse in Southern Ontario, Canada, and asks the question “what has been here before?”
The film weaves together a complex temporal structure that juxtaposes the lives of two figures, one historical (Nahneebahweequa: a nineteenth century aboriginal woman and land rights activist) and the other contemporary (an ex-pat drifter and father of the filmmaker’s step daughter) across two hundred years.
The film explores these characters through a variety of archival materials: diaries, landscape paintings, photographs, heritage films, poems, phone messages, maps, historical reenactments, songs) that express the complexity of time and the politics of land. The film is structured through Hoffman’s extraordinary landscapes of Southern Ontario which make the temporal fabric shimmer, bringing us a meditation on childhood, property, colonialism, ecology, and love.
“The paintings and writings of Homer Watson and Paul Kane are featured and explored in the film, along with writers George Orwell and Wallace Stevens. Contemporary figures such as organic farmer and raw milk advocater Michael Schmidt also appears in the film. Composers Toni Edelmann and Tucker Zimmerman have created the music for the film and the film was co-written with Janine Marchessault.”
Canadian Film Institute
Special Presentations: ALL FALL DOWN
Auditorium, Library and Archives Canada
“One of Canada’s pre-eminent experimental filmmakers and a pioneer of the diary film, Philip Hoffman has been working and teaching in sound and images for over 30 years. ALL FALL DOWN, Hoffman’s first feature length film, is in some ways the culmination of his ongoing formal and thematic concerns related to history, family and memory. The film weaves together a diverse array of material in its memory work: archival documents, diaries, landscape photography, family photo albums, heritage films, poems, cartography, and the interstitial moments that linger in the in-between. In asking the question, “What has been here before?,” the film“ weaves together a complex temporal structure that juxtaposes the lives of two figures, one historical (Nahneebahweequa: a nineteenth-century aboriginal woman and land-rights activist) and the other contemporary (an ex-pat drifter and father of the filmmaker’s step-daughter), across 200 years.”
A sensitive and probing first person perspective travels over and within the images, linking the fates of farms in Southern Ontario to far-reaching issues related to Canada’s colonial history. Reminiscent of the genre-bending essay films of world cinema giants Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker, ALL FALL DOWN is an emotionally moving and thought-provoking cinematic excursion into the archaeologies of memory and place: the place of memory in the contemporary world. Must-see cinema.” – Tom McSorley
BUENOS AIRES FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL de CINE INDEPENDIENTE (BAFICI) (read here)
“The fact that All Fall Down is a film in which the theme and central question is how to build a film character might be the reason for this story about writer George Lachlan Brown being so fascinating. Philip Hoffmann had endless answers for that question, but he understood his character didn’t fit in the usual systems of society, which would demand an approach that would not just settle with first person storytelling or archive footage, but would tear down those barriers and pose a perspective that –as critic Michael Sicinski said – oscillates between the intimate and the distant. As it occurs with powerful films, it’s hard to define its most relevant topic: family and loneliness, imagination and reality, Art and everyday life, the local and the global, the time’s passing and weight, comedy and tragedy. It’s hard to ask this unforgettable film for more.”
BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Dialogue with Films – Four Decades of the Forum
Philip Hoffman’s latest production, All Fall Down (2009, HDV) screens as part of the Berlinale’s Forum Expanded program, a series exploring traditional image formats in the digital age. (read here)
The feature-length film is an experimental documentary that juxtaposes the lives of two people separated by a century but linked by a farm house in Southern Ontario. It explores the characters through a variety of archival materials: diaries, landscape paintings, photographs, heritage films, poems, phone messages, maps, historical reenactments and songs that express the complexity of time and the politics of land.
WNDX: WINNIPEG’S FESTIVAL OF FILM AND VIDEO ART
Hailing Hoffman: Legendary experimental filmmaker a focus of local WNDX Festival (read here)
“Philip Hoffman, one of Canada’s most critically respected filmmakers, is coming to Winnipeg to attend a retrospective of his short works and a screening of his first feature. Known for his distinctly personal approach, Hoffman has made over 18 short films, has had more than a dozen retrospectives of his work across the world, teaches film production at York University and is the founder of the Film Farm, an experimental filmmakers retreat. He will be screening his new film, All Fall Down, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to terrific reviews, at WNDX (Winnipeg’s festival of film and video art) this week.” by Ryan Simmons
Beyond the blockbuster: Legendary experimental filmmaker a focus of local WNDX Festival:
by Aaron Graham
(Uptown Magazine, Winnipeg’s Online Source for Arts, Entertainment & News)