San Francisco festival showcases prof’s films

The San Francisco Cinematheque, one of the world’s leading showcases for experimental film and video, is presenting a retrospective of the work of York University film and video Professor Philip Hoffman (right).

“Passing Through: A Philip Hoffman Retrospective” includes hs most recent work, What These Ashes Wanted, a highly personal meditation on loss and grief  and four short films that were created earlier in his career. The retrospective, which started yesterday, will be shown in two parts and concludes on April 4 with a screening at  California College of the Arts in downtown San Francisco.

Hoffman has been making films for the past 25 years. His works have been described as “experimental diarist cinema‚” an intimate first-person collision of fiction, documentary and formal experimentation through which he explores autobiographical themes of memory, family and loss. His films have won many awards, including three in 1998 for his documentary Destroying Angel.

The San Francisco retrospective will feature What These Ashes Wanted, which won a Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the Gus Van Sant Award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival in 2002.

Image from What These Ashes Wanted


It will also show Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion (1984), passing through/torn formations (1988), ?O,Zoo! (The Making of a Fiction Film) (1986) and river (1979-89).

Right: Image from Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion

The screenings will be accompanied by the launch of a richly illustrated publication featuring an interview with Hoffman, an essay about passing through/torn formations and the script for What These Ashes Wanted.

This is the 12th Hoffman film retrospective since 1986. Film festivals all over the world have showcased his work, including the 2001 Images Festival for Independent Film and Video in Toronto, which also launched Landscape with Shipwreck: First Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman, a book of 25 essays by academics and artists. Most recently, 13 of his productions were shown at the 2003 IV Fest in Trivandrum, India.

Hoffman taught for 17 years at Sheridan College before joining York’s Department of Film & Video in 1999.

For more information about the retrospective, visit the San Francisco Cinematheque Web site.

Photographs courtesy of Philip Hoffman.