?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) (23 min., 1986)
Music by Tucker Zimmerman

"The success of ?O, Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film), the film that brought Philip Hoffman to international attention, marked the shift in Canadian experimental film in the eighties away from structuralism toward a more personal cinema. Begun as a documentary on the making of Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts (1985), Hoffman’s treatise on reality as a construct turns conventional documentary film practice on its head. Familiar codes give way to family memories that, in turn, merge with personal reflections until the whole notion of a collective truth collapses. The result, in which the facts are suspect and fiction seems to be the only thing we can count on, is a brilliant statement on the fictions spun throughout our lives. In ?O, Zoo! Hoffman grapples with the Griersonian legacy of Canadian documentary cinema. Largely shot around the production of Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts, the film constructs a labyrinthean fiction out of “documentary” materials, and places the story of a death at its unseen centre. Witty, contrary, and exquisitely photographed, ?O, Zoo! was nominated for a Genie Award in 1987 for Best Documentary and won the Grand Prize (Experimental Film) at the Athens International Film Festival.” (Canadian Film Encyclopedia, Chris Gehman)

"Philip Hoffman's ?O,ZOO! (The Making of a Fiction Film) uses a diary format to skirt along the edge of someone else's filmed narrative (Peter Greenaway's A Zed & Two Noughts), and to trace the anatomy of pure image-making. 'Pure' is both the right and the wrong word: Hoffman is a man addicted to the hermetic thisness of filmed images, and plagued by the suspicion that these images, far from being pure, are really scabs torn away from the sores of the world. Found footage shot by his grandfather (a newsreel cameraman) is the starting point for Hoffman's meditations on the illusion of visual purity, and on the distance between the 'neutral' image and the value-laden narrative that it can be made to serve. It is a moral distance, one that this filmmaker surveys with a wary fascination." (Robert Everett-Green)

The films of Philip Hoffman are available from:
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
401 Richmond St. W., Suite 245
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 3A8

TEL (416) 588-0725
FAX (416) 588-7956
director@cfmdc.org email: bookings@cfmdc.org
web: cfmdc.org

Canyon Cinema
2325 Third Street, Suite #338, San Francisco, CA, USA 94107
telephone: 415-626-2255, email: films@canyoncinema.com
web: canyoncinema.com

lux.org.uk/collection/artists/philip-hoffman

Lightcone
12 rue des Vignoles Paris, France 75020
telephone: 331 46590153 email: lightcone@lightcone.org
web: lightcone.org

Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca and
?,Zoo!: philiphoffman.ca/film/filmography/ozoofilm.htm
Hoffman contact: chimeraimaging@gmail.com

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