Philip Hoffman Films

  1. Hoffman Films Vimeo Channel: Philip Hoffman Films

    Kitchener-Berlin (1990, 34 minutes 16mm)
    Distribution with CFMDC: bookings@cfmdc.org

    Philip Hoffman has devoted himself to filmmaking as a personal undertaking, and done so in the belief that personal refers to images, incidents, places, and persons who surround him and form part of his own life. Over the past ten years, he has made a remarkable series of films-including The Road Ended at the Beach (1983), ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) (1986), and passing through/torn formations (1987)-that confront issues of cinematic autobiography, and sometimes cannily skirt them or play with the conventions of telling the story of a life. This cycle by its definition has had to concern ideas of family and home. As passing through/torn formations concerns his mother's family heritage, Kitchener-Berlin revolves around his father's family hometown. The slash and the hyphen in the titles suggest both severance from the past and connections to it, an ambivalence that is especially poignant for the descendants of the area's German settlers. The history of the area underpins the film, but refuses to bind it or restrict it from free association. Hoffman assembles a wide range of visual materials, including home movies, television news footage, and archival film, as well as his own characteristically enticing images, to build complex layers of superimpositions analogous to the impressions of memory. The film's opening segment, "A Measured Dance,' is fluid and seductive, with deliberate and rhythmic camera movement and complex editing. Its second part, "Veiled Flight," (introduced with an astounding "Prologue" drawn from archival sources) is more enigmatic, turning inward with the visual metaphor of underground exploration, and suggests the extent to which filmmakers are engaged in the work of making ghosts of the past for the future. (Blaine Allen)

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  2. Hoffman Films Vimeo Channel: Philip Hoffman Films

    `Best Experimental’, Athens International Film Festival - 1997

    Chimera (1996, 6 min., 16mm) Music by Tucker Zimmerman

    “The film consists of collected, diaristic images amassed through Hoffman’s travels. Uluru... Russian shoppers, a Cairo market, and day to day images from home and away... make floating appearances. These have been gathered on the run, and then reconstituted with an uncanny ephemeral floating rhythm, a dance of light, and replaying, with commendable control, the idea of visual music, visual jazz. Though the method of collection may have had an air of arbitrariness about it, the meticulous construction and focus on rhythm in the finished piece suggest an artist who has learnt to master technique so as to let it speak for him about ‘other’ things.” Dirk de Bruyn, Melbourne Film Festival Catalogue 1996)

    “In 1989 I finished the film Kitchener-Berlin and put a close to a cycle of work which dealt directly with myself, and how self is expressed/constructed cinematically. At the same time I took my old super-8 camera out of the closet, and began collecting images, using the single-frame-zoom. Cubist in its visual delivery, the single-frame-zoom builds a splayed reality that brings together disparate vantage points simultaneously, and serves as the glue that blends and bonds peoples, places and spaces in Chimera.” (PH)

    “Chimera was shot during a time when I had the opportunity to travel, a time of tremendous change; between 1989 and 1992 in Leningrad, London, Egypt, Helsinki, Sydney and Uluru. It was optically printed and edited in Helsinki in 1992; completed in Mount Forest in 1995.” (PH)

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  3. Hoffman Films Vimeo Channel: Philip Hoffman Films

    Kokoro is for Heart (1999, 7 minutes 16mm)

    Kokoro is for Heart features poet Gerry Shikatani and explores the relationships surrounding language, image and sound, set to the backdrop of a gravel pit. When I got the footage back from the lab I was disappointed because of the periodic flipping of the image. After screening the footage several times I realised that the malfunctioning camera rendered the filmed-nature unnatural ...and this poses questions: what is nature? What is natural? Ph

    "Communication takes a poetic turn in Kokora is for Heart. Originating as a performance piece, the director, Phil Hoffman, screened segments of this film in a random order selected by the audience (Opening Series 3). Accompanying this was the sound poetry of Gerry Shikatani. From this process the film has found its organic and final structure.” (Liz Czach, Toronto International Film Festival 1999)

    Award: Best Experimental at Athens International Film and Video Festival

    Camera and Editing: Philip Hoffman
    Sound Composition and Performance: Gerry Shikatani
    Spoken text in English, Japanese and French

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  4. Hoffman Films: philiphoffman.ca/filmography/

    “Hoffman’s film is in the experimental film tradition of the personal diary although in this case a beautifully paced mixture of family photographs and dramatic reconstruction interwoven into a narrative that creates objective distance. On the Pond reveals skills of editing, sound and story-telling which evoke in ten minutes a complex and emotional study of family, its past and present, its young dreams and its affections. Unsentimental, evocative and perfectly pitched in its emotional resonance, it avoids all the pitfalls of personal narrative and is an excellent example of the short film’s power when handled with skill, sensitivity and integrity. (Michael O’Pray)
    “Hoffman’s first completed film already bears the traits of his future works: an interest in family history and the reconstruction of memory; a complex temporal scheme that also calls into question the “truth value” of documentary material: a deep feeling for the Canadian landscape; and a certain clarity and honesty about his own position as filmmaker. Close attention to the film’s form, discloses a surprising complexity and richness in its structuring of time, its ambiguity regarding the “documentary” character of much of the material, and its sound-image relations.” (Chris Gehman, Images Festival Catalogue, 2001)
    “On the Pond is an elaboration of the family slide show, its intimate portraits greeted with squeals of recognition and a generational shudder of light and shadow which elicits a response from its constituents. The slides centre on the filmmaker as a child, his meek and unmarked countenance staring from a variety of outdoor settings, dwarfed by the furry excess of his winter parka; summertime finds him casting flies on the Saugeen River or trekking through forest outside the family cottage. His unguarded expression is an insignia of innocence, absorbing the events of his surround with a comprehension that is made manifest only in his body — in the stern rigours of training that shape his unfashioned masks of dissent into a fleshy assertion of familial rites. Lacking a stable perimeter to cleave self and world, the photograph’s framing enacts this movement of separation and identity, even as it displays the exchange of a casual intimacy. Reviewing the photographs with family, the filmmaker asks, “What do I look like?” in a gesture that underlines the reliance of identity on the family’s complex of role play, fantasy, and projection, on its investment in shared secrets, and its dramatic restagings of generational loss and symmetrical neglects. As the author of the film, Hoffman assumes a distinctly paternal guise, but within its confines he is very much the son, waiting on his elders for the signs of assent that will take shape as his own desire. Hoffman offers up these photographs as evidence, insistently returning to moments whose nostalgic impress provides a blank for the interchange of codes and riddles. These are hieroglyphs from the dead world, resurrected in order to reconstruct the memory of a time alien even to its inhabitants, because the measure of this familial solidarity must rely on a willful disavowal of experience, casting aside the ghosts of illness and psychosis, turning away from all that fails to conform to the familial ideal.
    These photographs are interwoven with dramatic re-enactments of Hoffman’s own boyhood. These centre on a boy of seven skating “on the pond,” his only company a German shepherd. As he diligently hones his puck handling skills, his easy skate over the big ice is interrupted by a societal voice-over—the exhortations of a coach and the scream of parents increasingly dog his steps. As Hoffman pans over a well stocked trophy case and the young boy falls to the ice in a paroxysm of push-ups, the public stakes of this private practice become clear. He is leaving the family. The young boy’s ardour will transport him from the pond to the city; he relinquishes the ties of family in a feverish clamour for success.
    But almost as abruptly as the dream has been conjured, it ends: in a long pan over a projector which has run out of film and a record player at the end of its disk, the filmmaker rises from his bedside vigil over the past to close the apparatus of memory. Confronted with the escalating tensions of his trade, and a growing distance from his cherished solitude on the pond, Hoffman quits hockey, turning instead to a diaristic filmmaking which will stage the self in its various incarnations. All this is suggested in the film’s closing shot, which, intercepted by closing credits, shows Hoffman join his young double, confidently calling for the puck before slipping on the icy sheen, tall enough now to show us his falling. Brilliantly photographed in black and white, with a spare piano score and a sure use of accompanying sound, On the Pond marked an auspicious debut from Canada’s premier diarist.” (Mike Hoolboom)

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  5. Hoffman Films Vimeo Channel: Philip Hoffman Films

    Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion (1984, 6 min., 16mm)
    Music by Mike Callich
    Distribution with CFMDC: bookings@cfmdc.org

    “In Mexico, during the collection of footage for what eventually became Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion, a bus on which Philip Hoffman was riding stopped, and a woman came screaming across the field. Her little boy had been run over and killed by the bus. Phil watched from inside with camera in hand, trying to decide whether to film or not. He didn’t. He can attest to the event, he says it happened, but he doesn’t have evidence to back up his claim because he didn’t turn the camera on. Later, at the Grierson Seminar, Somewhere Between is screened, an entire film structured around the death of a child and the absent image of it, and a news correspondent who’d made a number of films about Vietnam approaches Hoffman: “Phil, I really enjoyed the discussion, but you know when you were in the editing room, didn’t you just wish you had the footage?” I put the camera down. The film is a cinemato-poetic account of an event, of the experience of an event, the evidentiary image of which is missing…” (Landscape with Shipwreck by Mike Cartmell)

    Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion is a handheld travelogue of North America, presented in the unbroken twenty-eight-second shots of [Hoffman's] spring-wind camera and the intertitles of a Mexican journey. Somewhere Between... is a Catholic drama of life and death played out in the streets of North America. Its gesture is a public circumstance: a horn band in Guadalajara, a Catholic procession in Toronto, distant passing traffic in Colorado. These scenes are presented, each in their turn, as separate and discrete events moving between titles describing a boy lying dead. They are a discourse that moves a geography of surface into concert with a transcendental history, a history of death." (Michael Hoolboom, Vanguard)

    “Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion by Philip Hoffman takes us back out to the street as Hoffman builds a film around not filming a young boy run over by a truck and lying dead on a street corner somewhere between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion. The death at the centre of the film is conveyed through text in this record of travels between Mexico and Toronto. The film engages with the things, events, architectures and emotions that carve out a place and give it a redemptive quality. Structured around three event—a horn band in Guadalajara, a Catholic procession in Toronto, traffic in Colorado—the film is a haiku of sorts, focusing on the life after death.” (Fabulous Festival of Fringe Film, Durham, Janine Marchessault)

    “The film concerns Hoffman’s inability to record the scene of a young boy’s death in Mexico. The film is structured around the absence of that image we most want to see. Paradoxically, it is the absence of the photographic record which captures Hoffman’s experience of the event most vividly. The discussion following the films concerned the morality of Hoffman’s decision to record the death scene. Don North, a war correspondent who makes a living recording this kind of tragic scene, felt that the film would have been stronger with the addition of the death. What north missed, I think, was the very structure this absence provided, and Hoffman’s implied critique of North’s type of filmmaking. (Shelley Stamp, “Systems in Collapse,” A Newsletter Called Fred, March/April 1985)

    “An elegy of sorts. Somewhere Between is organized entirely around the absence of an image, anticipating the more complex reworking of his fundamental notion in ?O,Zoo! memories of the roadside death of a boy in Mexico give way to layered images of a religious procession in Toronto, transforming the participants into mourners for this anonymous child.” (Chris Gehman, Images Festival, 2001)

    “The bus stopped on the Mexican highway, placing us in full view of a young boy, motionless, on the hot pavement. In this film, the incident is revealed through a poetic text, derived from my written journals. The poetry mixes primarily with Mexican streetscapes which compliment the text in a tonal sense. Most images are twenty-eight seconds long, the ‘breath’ of the 16mm Bolex camera. A lone saxophone (Mike Callich) weaves its way through the narrative, blending to make stronger the tomes and accentuations of the images.” (PH)

    Available from: Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution Centre
    Toronto, Ontario Canada
    telephone: 416-588-0725, email: bookings@cfmdc.org
    web: cfmdc.org

    Canyon Cinema
    145 Ninth St. #260
    San Francisco, CA, USA. 94103
    phone/fax 415-626-2255 email films@canyoncinema.com
    web: canyoncinema.com

    LUX, London U.K.
    lux.org.uk/

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Philip Hoffman Films

Chimera Imaging PRO

Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca
Hoffman contact: chimera.imaging@gmail.com

Philip Hoffman:
A filmmaker of memory and association, Philip Hoffman creates highly ‘personal’ yet universal works, which weave fiction and documentary in an…


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Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca
Hoffman contact: chimera.imaging@gmail.com

Philip Hoffman:
A filmmaker of memory and association, Philip Hoffman creates highly ‘personal’ yet universal works, which weave fiction and documentary in an experimental ‘diarist’ cinema. His filmmaking began in his hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, with a boyhood interest in photography. As semi-official historian of family life,

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Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca
Hoffman contact: chimera.imaging@gmail.com

Philip Hoffman:
A filmmaker of memory and association, Philip Hoffman creates highly ‘personal’ yet universal works, which weave fiction and documentary in an experimental ‘diarist’ cinema. His filmmaking began in his hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, with a boyhood interest in photography. As semi-official historian of family life, Hoffman became intrigued by questions of reality in photography and later in cinema.

“Philip Hoffman has long been recognized as Canada’s pre-eminent diary filmmaker. For over twenty-five years he has been straining history through personal fictions, using the material of his life to deconstruct the Griersonian legacy of documentary practice. As an artist working directly upon the material of film, Hoffman is keenly attuned to the shape of seeing, foregrounding the image and its creation as well as the manufacture of point of view. Hoffman’s films are deeply troubled in their remembrances; he dusts off the family archive to examine how estrangement fuels a fascination with the familiar surroundings of home.

Mortality forms the absent centre of Philip Hoffman’s oeuvre, a body of films that seems to foreshadow a penultimate loss that will take the maker to the outer and inner reaches of grief. Through the repeating figure of death—whether a boy lying on a Mexican roadside in Somewhere Between…, the death of an elephant at the Rotterdam Zoo, in ?O,Zoo!, or his uncle’s legacy of insanity and death in passing through/torn formations–Hoffman approaches the limits of representation and the ethical burdens of vision and reproduction.” (Karyn Sandlos, Toronto Images Festival, 2001)

He has screened his work in England, Holland, Australia, Malaysia, Cuba, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Russia, France and the USA. In 1987, ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) received a Genie Nomination (in the Documentary Category), and First Prize in the Experimental Film Category at the Athens International Film Festival. In 1991, the Sydney International Film Festival in Australia honored Hoffman with a retrospective of his work. In 1994, Technilogic Ordering received jury citations at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Chimera (1996) won a 1st Prize at Athens Film Festival, and Destroying Angel (1998) has won threeawards at festivals in the USA. Kokoro is for Heart (1999) is Hoffman’s 15th film. In 2001 Hoffman was featured at the Images Festival for Independent Film and Video. What these ashes wanted (2001) premiered at the festival and received the Telefilm Canada Award. As well, at the festival a book about his work was launched: Landscape with Shipwreck: First Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman contains over twenty-five essays/writings by academics and artists. He has also received a 2002 Golden Gate Award, New Visions, from the San Francisco International Film Festival, as well as the Gus Van Sant Award from the Ann Arbor Film Festival for What these ashes wanted. In 2008, Rivers of Time: The Films of Philip Hoffman was published, which is a collection of essays on Hoffman’s work edited by Tom McSorley at the Canadian Film Institute. All Fall Down, Hoffman’s first feature length film had its World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, and will have its North American Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

Since the mid-80's, Hoffman has been giving workshops in film co-operatives and schools throughout Canada and abroad. He has been a Visiting Professor of Film at University of Helsinki and University of South Florida in Tampa. Hoffman also teaches a summer workshop, Film Farm Retreat, to support hand-made short films. Participants learn to process their own film, and develop a short project. Films made at the workshop have received several awards, and workshop programs have been screened in San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Regina, Toronto and Helsinki.

“The films of Philip Hoffman have revived the travelogue, long the preserve of tourism officials anxious to convert geography into currency. Hoffman’s passages are too deeply felt, too troubled in their remembrance, and too radical in their rethinking of the Canadian documentary tradition to quicken the pulse of an audience given to starlight. He has moved from his first college-produced short, On The Pond—set between the filmmakers familial home and his new found residency at college—to a trek across Canada (The Road Ended at the Beach); from Holland, where he was invited to the set of Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts and made ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) to Mexico for his haiku-inspired short Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion; from passing through/torn formations pan-continental dialogue of madness and memory to Kitchener-Berlin’s oceanic traversal; and finally, to river, a landscape meditation that leads inevitably home. Denoting the family as source and stage of inspiration, Hoffman’s gracious archeology is haunted by death, the absent centre in much of his practice, a meditation on mortality and its representation. His restless navigations are invariably followed by months of tortuous editing as history is strained through its own image, recalling Derrida’s dictum that everything begins with reproduction. Hoffman’s delicately enacted shapings of his own past is at once poetry, pastiche, and proclamation, a resounding affirmation of all that is well with independent film today.” (Mike Hoolboom, Inside the Pleasure Dome: Fringe Film in Canada, 2001)

“Philip Hoffman received a diploma in media arts from Sheridan College in 1979 and a B.A. in English literature from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1987. While a student at Sheridan, he was part of that burgeoning group of filmmakers, including Richard Kerr and Mike Hoolboom, who came to be known as the Escarpment School. He returned to Sheridan College as a full-time instructor in 1986, and later, joined the film and video department at York University in 1999. Every summer since 1994, Hoffman has run his own craft-centered film workshop at Mount Forest, Ontario.

If, according to Mike Hoolboom, "the Escarpment School typically conjoins memory and landscape in a home-movie, documentary-based production that is at once personal, poetic and reflexive," Hoffman inflects these priorities in a distinctly personal way. If the works of Rick Hancox repeatedly return to the sites of his youth, Hoffman's entail an archaeological journey toward unknown places and unfamiliar times.

Almost without exception, Hoffman's work involves exorcism and espousal, from the shuffling off of inadequate ideas concerning his sense of self in the early films (On the Pond, 1978; The Road Ended at the Beach, 1983) to a Buddhist-like reconciliation with the inevitability of loss and death that characterizes his later works: Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan & Encarnacion (1984); ?O, Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) (1986); Kitchener-Berlin (1990) and What these ashes wanted (2001). Hoffman contests the claim to the truth characteristic of conventional documentaries; ?O, Zoo! handles these themes with great playfulness, whereas both passing through/torn formations (1998) and What these ashes wanted confront them directly, without irony. passing through/torn formations took Hoffman to Europe in a search of the origins of his mother's family. If a sense of doubling occurred in ?O, Zoo! and in the very title of Kitchener-Berlin — in passing through it becomes schizophrenic, with his cousin Leesa's face split in the corner mirror that his uncle Wally uses to help settle his deranged mind.

And if death and dying is a presence in many of these works, it arrives unexpectedly at the end of Destroying Angel (1998), a film co-directed by Hoffman's friend Wayne Salazar that celebrates Salazar’s homosexual marriage in spite of his ongoing struggle with AIDS. Suddenly there is a phone call. A candle flickers out. Hoffman must hurry home because of the imminent death of Marian McMahon, his companion of many years who is ill with cancer. The full exploration of this relationship and its sudden loss become the poignant affirmation of What these ashes wanted. Hoffman has stated that his desire was “to illuminate the conditions of her death… the mystery of her life and the reason why, at the instant of her passage, I felt peace with her leaving… a feeling I no longer hold.” The catalogue for the Toronto Images Festival described the film as "What these ashes wanted is not a story of surviving death, but rather of living death through a heightening of the quotidian moments of everyday experience."

The complete works of Philip Hoffman incontestably establish him as an independent filmmaker of intricate artistic achievement and philosophical depth. (Canadian Film Encyclopedia, Peter Harcourt)

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
email: director@cfmdc.org & 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, UK: 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
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Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca
Hoffman contact: chimera.imaging@gmail.com

Philip Hoffman:
A filmmaker of memory and association, Philip Hoffman creates highly ‘personal’ yet universal works, which weave fiction and documentary in an experimental ‘diarist’ cinema. His filmmaking began in his hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, with a boyhood interest in photography. As semi-official historian of family life,

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Info on Hoffman's films: philiphoffman.ca
Hoffman contact: chimera.imaging@gmail.com

Philip Hoffman:
A filmmaker of memory and association, Philip Hoffman creates highly ‘personal’ yet universal works, which weave fiction and documentary in an experimental ‘diarist’ cinema. His filmmaking began in his hometown of Waterloo, Ontario, with a boyhood interest in photography. As semi-official historian of family life, Hoffman became intrigued by questions of reality in photography and later in cinema.

“Philip Hoffman has long been recognized as Canada’s pre-eminent diary filmmaker. For over twenty-five years he has been straining history through personal fictions, using the material of his life to deconstruct the Griersonian legacy of documentary practice. As an artist working directly upon the material of film, Hoffman is keenly attuned to the shape of seeing, foregrounding the image and its creation as well as the manufacture of point of view. Hoffman’s films are deeply troubled in their remembrances; he dusts off the family archive to examine how estrangement fuels a fascination with the familiar surroundings of home.

Mortality forms the absent centre of Philip Hoffman’s oeuvre, a body of films that seems to foreshadow a penultimate loss that will take the maker to the outer and inner reaches of grief. Through the repeating figure of death—whether a boy lying on a Mexican roadside in Somewhere Between…, the death of an elephant at the Rotterdam Zoo, in ?O,Zoo!, or his uncle’s legacy of insanity and death in passing through/torn formations–Hoffman approaches the limits of representation and the ethical burdens of vision and reproduction.” (Karyn Sandlos, Toronto Images Festival, 2001)

He has screened his work in England, Holland, Australia, Malaysia, Cuba, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Russia, France and the USA. In 1987, ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) received a Genie Nomination (in the Documentary Category), and First Prize in the Experimental Film Category at the Athens International Film Festival. In 1991, the Sydney International Film Festival in Australia honored Hoffman with a retrospective of his work. In 1994, Technilogic Ordering received jury citations at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Chimera (1996) won a 1st Prize at Athens Film Festival, and Destroying Angel (1998) has won threeawards at festivals in the USA. Kokoro is for Heart (1999) is Hoffman’s 15th film. In 2001 Hoffman was featured at the Images Festival for Independent Film and Video. What these ashes wanted (2001) premiered at the festival and received the Telefilm Canada Award. As well, at the festival a book about his work was launched: Landscape with Shipwreck: First Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman contains over twenty-five essays/writings by academics and artists. He has also received a 2002 Golden Gate Award, New Visions, from the San Francisco International Film Festival, as well as the Gus Van Sant Award from the Ann Arbor Film Festival for What these ashes wanted. In 2008, Rivers of Time: The Films of Philip Hoffman was published, which is a collection of essays on Hoffman’s work edited by Tom McSorley at the Canadian Film Institute. All Fall Down, Hoffman’s first feature length film had its World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, and will have its North American Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

Since the mid-80's, Hoffman has been giving workshops in film co-operatives and schools throughout Canada and abroad. He has been a Visiting Professor of Film at University of Helsinki and University of South Florida in Tampa. Hoffman also teaches a summer workshop, Film Farm Retreat, to support hand-made short films. Participants learn to process their own film, and develop a short project. Films made at the workshop have received several awards, and workshop programs have been screened in San Francisco, New York, Vancouver, Regina, Toronto and Helsinki.

“The films of Philip Hoffman have revived the travelogue, long the preserve of tourism officials anxious to convert geography into currency. Hoffman’s passages are too deeply felt, too troubled in their remembrance, and too radical in their rethinking of the Canadian documentary tradition to quicken the pulse of an audience given to starlight. He has moved from his first college-produced short, On The Pond—set between the filmmakers familial home and his new found residency at college—to a trek across Canada (The Road Ended at the Beach); from Holland, where he was invited to the set of Peter Greenaway’s A Zed and Two Noughts and made ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) to Mexico for his haiku-inspired short Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion; from passing through/torn formations pan-continental dialogue of madness and memory to Kitchener-Berlin’s oceanic traversal; and finally, to river, a landscape meditation that leads inevitably home. Denoting the family as source and stage of inspiration, Hoffman’s gracious archeology is haunted by death, the absent centre in much of his practice, a meditation on mortality and its representation. His restless navigations are invariably followed by months of tortuous editing as history is strained through its own image, recalling Derrida’s dictum that everything begins with reproduction. Hoffman’s delicately enacted shapings of his own past is at once poetry, pastiche, and proclamation, a resounding affirmation of all that is well with independent film today.” (Mike Hoolboom, Inside the Pleasure Dome: Fringe Film in Canada, 2001)

“Philip Hoffman received a diploma in media arts from Sheridan College in 1979 and a B.A. in English literature from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1987. While a student at Sheridan, he was part of that burgeoning group of filmmakers, including Richard Kerr and Mike Hoolboom, who came to be known as the Escarpment School. He returned to Sheridan College as a full-time instructor in 1986, and later, joined the film and video department at York University in 1999. Every summer since 1994, Hoffman has run his own craft-centered film workshop at Mount Forest, Ontario.

If, according to Mike Hoolboom, "the Escarpment School typically conjoins memory and landscape in a home-movie, documentary-based production that is at once personal, poetic and reflexive," Hoffman inflects these priorities in a distinctly personal way. If the works of Rick Hancox repeatedly return to the sites of his youth, Hoffman's entail an archaeological journey toward unknown places and unfamiliar times.

Almost without exception, Hoffman's work involves exorcism and espousal, from the shuffling off of inadequate ideas concerning his sense of self in the early films (On the Pond, 1978; The Road Ended at the Beach, 1983) to a Buddhist-like reconciliation with the inevitability of loss and death that characterizes his later works: Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan & Encarnacion (1984); ?O, Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) (1986); Kitchener-Berlin (1990) and What these ashes wanted (2001). Hoffman contests the claim to the truth characteristic of conventional documentaries; ?O, Zoo! handles these themes with great playfulness, whereas both passing through/torn formations (1998) and What these ashes wanted confront them directly, without irony. passing through/torn formations took Hoffman to Europe in a search of the origins of his mother's family. If a sense of doubling occurred in ?O, Zoo! and in the very title of Kitchener-Berlin — in passing through it becomes schizophrenic, with his cousin Leesa's face split in the corner mirror that his uncle Wally uses to help settle his deranged mind.

And if death and dying is a presence in many of these works, it arrives unexpectedly at the end of Destroying Angel (1998), a film co-directed by Hoffman's friend Wayne Salazar that celebrates Salazar’s homosexual marriage in spite of his ongoing struggle with AIDS. Suddenly there is a phone call. A candle flickers out. Hoffman must hurry home because of the imminent death of Marian McMahon, his companion of many years who is ill with cancer. The full exploration of this relationship and its sudden loss become the poignant affirmation of What these ashes wanted. Hoffman has stated that his desire was “to illuminate the conditions of her death… the mystery of her life and the reason why, at the instant of her passage, I felt peace with her leaving… a feeling I no longer hold.” The catalogue for the Toronto Images Festival described the film as "What these ashes wanted is not a story of surviving death, but rather of living death through a heightening of the quotidian moments of everyday experience."

The complete works of Philip Hoffman incontestably establish him as an independent filmmaker of intricate artistic achievement and philosophical depth. (Canadian Film Encyclopedia, Peter Harcourt)

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
email: director@cfmdc.org & 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, UK: 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

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