Wednesday, January 27, 2016

passing through / torn formations

passing through / torn formations. Please click to enlarge.
Aikojen halki
Canada / 1988 © 1987 / 43 min / 16 mm
Director: Philip Hoffman
Music: Tucker Zimmerman
Production: Chimera Imaging
Distribution: Philip Hoffman
Language: English
Viewed at DocPoint, Helsinki. Screener link viewed at home.
Home movie footage of the Kaczmarcyck family.
Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 Jan 2016

Festival catalogue and website:

torn formations / The Films of Philip Hoffman

"The Philip Hoffman “introretrospective” is made up of five screenings that include both Hoffman’s own films and the works of his Finnish collegues. The programme has been curated by Philip Hoffman and the Finnish film maker Sami van Ingen."

"The limits of cinematic expression have changed and expanded, and also our historical awareness has developed. Canadian experimental filmmaker Philip Hoffman has deep and solid roots in Finland. He has worked twice as a teacher in the University of Art and Design Helsinki during the 1990s, and his influence is prominent in the work of several filmmakers who started their careers back then. Highly personal subject matter and experimentation are the key concepts of Philip Hoffman’s work, which, on the other hand, is also a visual body of memory and emotions.

Perttu Rastas
Senior Planning Officer, Finnish National Gallery

Hoffman II: Picturing Home

"The films in this program picture home as a space that must be reclaimed. Philip Hoffman’s passing through / torn formations is a generational saga, laid over three picture rolls, that rejoins in its symphonic montage the broken remnants of his Eastern European family, which has been separated by war, disease, madness, and migration. In Orpojen joulu, Anu Kuivalainen, with passion and grace, seeks and finds the father she had never met. Kiti Luostarinen boldly uncovers difficult repressed family memories, using camera as both probe and witness in Sanokaa mitä näitte (Tell Us What You Saw). “What one does not remember, is the serpent in the garden of one’s dreams”." –James Baldwin

AA: Philip Hoffman's influence in modern Finnish documentary film has been tremendous. A case in point is Kiti Luostarinen's Sanokaa mitä näitte / Tell Me What You Saw, about the wildly incompatible childhood memories of a large family.

The key film of Hoffman's in Finland has been passing through / torn formations, now revisited in a special tribute cycle at the DocPoint Festival. Its beautiful Finnish title is Aikojen halki = "[Passing] Through Time".

Hoffman's film is a work of poetry. Through an intricate web of associative montage it visualizes the movement of the human mind.

There is stark documentary of nurturing a helpless grandmother at her deathbed. There are children wandering on meadows and rivers. There is the curious look of a baby, groping to make sense of life.

This is a document of intimacy. Of immediate experience, of family memory, of a split experience dating back to an European past in Poland. Even the name Dachau is mentioned.

It's free, experimental, and sensitive.

A full array of cinematic means is mobilized. A mobile handheld camera. Reduced colour. Overexposures. Extreme close-ups. Superimpositions. Flickering images. Print defects as signs. Black frames. High contrast. Silhouettes. There is an inner movement towards atavistic imagery, even rock paintings, and primordial memories of infancy.

The soundscape is often hypnotic, sometimes monotonous, with voiceover recitals of texts, inner monologues, amateur rustical musicianship, dialogues. The soundscape is often multi-layered. The composer is Tucker Zimmermann.

A journey to a forgotten world, almost beyond memory.

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