Thursday, April 1, 2004

Passing Through: A Phillip Hoffman Retrospective

Program 1: What these ashes wanted

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Canadian filmmaker Philip Hoffman has been making films for the past twenty-five years. He has been engaged in the education and inspiration of many young filmmakers through his courses at Sheridan College, York University and his artisinal film workshops at his rural Ontario farm. Hoffman’s films have been described as ‘experimental diarist cinema’, an intimate first-person collision of fiction, documentary, and formal experimentation. This hybrid approach to his artistic practice presents a cinema of slippages. It questions the reality of representation through the daily material of life, and the material properties of the film medium, to explore themes of memory, family and loss. (Maïa Cybelle Carpenter)

What these ashes wanted (2001) places flesh on the poet Ann Carson’s words, ‘…death lines every moment of ordinary time.’ With this work Hoffman resides in an acutely intimate time, a daily practice of loss lived precariously between the terror of psychic disintegration and the provisional solace taken through public rituals of mourning. The film is not a story of surviving death, but rather of living death through a heightening of the quotidian moments of every day experience.” (Karyn Sandlos, Catalogue for Images Festival, Toronto, 2001.) Opening Series: Before the screening begins, 12 boxes of film, each pasted with an image (not representational of the contents), are placed in order by the audience. Hoffman will then splice them together in the ‘decided on’ order to form a unique film. With this communal and interactive ordering, that places the “starting experiences of the present – light, rhythm, and color”, the audience and film come together in the moment. (Maïa Cybelle Carpenter)