Philip Hoffman (2001)

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Landscape With Shipwreck: First person Cinema and the films of Philip Hoffman edited by Karyn Sandlos and Mike Hoolboom
Publisher: Images Festival/Insomniac Press, 2001
258 pages

Philip Hoffman has been making personal documentary films for over twenty years. He has devoted his life to examining the narrow aperture each of us uses to bring our own experience into focus. As many of the writers in this volume will attest, telling personal stories is dangerous work. Landscape with Shipwreck is an untidy stew of gravediggers and critics, architects and builders. In their conversion of pictures into words, each has used the history of their own naming as compass and guide. These photographs and scripts speak alongside the written word, not to fill in the gaps but to deepen them, not to make the strange seem more familiar, but to turn towards the secret task of this volume: to write what cannot be written. To write what must never be written. To uncover a kind of writing that is beside itself, and without regret.

“Philip Hoffman’s work is an encouragement to those who want to use autobiography as subject matter, personal vision as a trademark, and show how small resources can be a positive virtue.” Peter Greenaway

“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.” Martha Rosler, Artist and Professor of Media and Critical Studies at Rutgers University

“Philip Hoffman’s films are a revelation for those lucky enough to see them. At once literary document and visual archive, Landscapes With Shipwreck advances contemporary thinking about Hoffman’s films and the autobiographical documentary tradition in Canadian cinema.” Piers Handling, Director, Toronto International Film Festival

Thin Ice by Karyn Sandlos – 12
All This Falling by Daniel Reeves – 18
This is Cinerama by Jeffrey Paull – 24
The Spy Who Knew Too Much by Richard Kerr – 30
Somewhere Between by Jeremy Rigsby – 37
Letter by Peter Greenaway – 40
Deception and Ethics in ?O,Zoo! by Michael Zyrd – 42
Passing Through by Gary Popovich – 56
The Landscape Journal by Ronald Heydon – 60
Notes on river by Philip Hoffman – 76
Kitchener-Berlin: or How One Becomes Two (Or None) by Steve Reinke – 77
Circuitous Quests: Passing Through Philip Hoffman’s Family Cycle by Peter Harcourt – 80
Pictures of Home: Hoffman in the 80s, an interview by Mike Hoolboom
In/Between Spaces by Darrell Varga – 109
The Workmanship of Risk: The Re-emergence of Handcraft in Postmodern Art by Polly Ulrich – 124
Impure Cinemas: Hoffman in Context – 138
Films and Fairy Dust by Cara Morton – 151
Ear Stones by Sarah Abbott – 154
Site Specific Symptoms by Deirdre Logue – 156
By Myself by Shary Boyle – 161
Films of Life and Death: Remarks on the Diary Film by Matthias Mueller – 167
Excuse of the Real by Steve Reinke – 172
Damned if You Don’t: 4 Notes On Herself by Su Friedrich
Incarnations by Janieta Eyre – 181
Diary Dearest by Tom Chomont – 185
Blind Spots by Chris Kennedy – 191
Theory is Sexy by Roy Mitchell – 194
Destroying Angel by Robert Lee – 196
Philip Hoffman’s Camera Lucida by Brenda Longfellow – 201
Duets: Hoffman in the 90s, an interview by Mike Hoolboom – 211
Landscape With Shipwreck by Mike Cartmell – 222
No Epitaph by Karyn Sandlos – 246
Notes on Contributors – 254
Hoffman: List of Works – 258

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