The Films of Rick Hancox

The Films of Rick Hancox (Introduced by Philip Hoffman)
Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:30PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque

With Rick Hancox in person!

In the late 70’s Rick Hancox’s autobiographical project fueled me like a house on fire! Suddenly, all that I was doing with poetry, photography and music could be brought to film. I will never forget Hancox’s dictum to young filmmakers, which was passed on to him by his film teacher George Semsel, –that in order to make a film about the world you must first, in some way, use film to look at your `self ‘, at your family, friends, lovers and surroundings…. after all, filmmakers inevitably project themselves onto the screen whether it be conscious or not – Phil Hoffman


Wild Sync
House Movie
Home For Christmas


From Uptown Magazine November 4, 2010

“There are secrets in the landscape”
Influential Canadian filmmaker and teacher Rick Hancox discusses why he’s never been one to negate his own home and native land

Has Canadian cinema finally embraced Canada?

“Look at recent movies like Atom Egoyan’s Chloe, or Scott Pilgrim vs. the World that are frankly and unabashedly set in recognizable Canadian locations,” says Rick Hancox, noted experimental Canadian filmmaker and teacher. “Canadian films are no longer hiding our landscapes.

“A certain thrill goes through audiences when they see that, I think.”

Hancox might be considered something of a pioneer in that regard: his own work since the ’70s has been concerned with both landscape and autobiography — and how the two often overlap.

“There are secrets in the landscape,” he says. “They tell us about our history.

“My approach to filmmaking is really about turning the camera on oneself — and, in the process, on one’s own country and landscape.

“My films are hence really more like experimental documentaries than fiction. If you take a look at my 1992 film Moose Jaw: There’s a Future in Our Past, it’s not unlike Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg in its autobiographical approach to place.

“I even showed Maddin a cut of Moose Jaw prior to his own film. Who knows? Maybe I influenced him,” Hancox chuckles.

“Within experimental or alternative film practices Rick’s films have a personal thread that is often lacking today,” says fellow experimental filmmaker Phil Hoffman, a former student of Hancox’s, and currently a faculty member in the Film and Video Department at York University.

“I think Rick’s idea is to make a film about something connected , deeply, inside yourself gives birth to a cinema that is not derivative, because you are connecting to something you are living right now, rather than copying a previous movement or filmmaker.”

Since the ’70s through his filmmaking and teaching, Hancox has exerted an influence on the direction of independent film in Canada; from 1973 to1985, he taught at Sheridan College in Ontario, before joining the communications department at Concordia University, where he currently teaches.

He and Hoffman are associated with the so-called ‘Escarpment School,’ a loosely knit band of Ontario-based filmmakers that came together in the late ’70s. According to Hoffman, “It wasn’t a formalized group or school – it was amorphous.”

What can be said is that the associated filmmakers – which also included Carl Brown, Mike Hoolboom, Richard Kerr, Gary Popovich, Steve Sanguedolce and others – shared similar concerns.

“It’s like the Group of Seven, who had the audacity to paint the landscapes of their own country,” Hancox says. “That’s important, insofar as defining who we are as a society and people.”

Hoffman will introduce a programme of Hancox’s films as part of Cinematheque’s free Cinema Lounge series tomorrow night. A program of Escarpment School films, The Road Ended at the Beach — curated and introduced by Pittsburgh-based filmmaker and curator Brett Kashmere — screens for free Saturday night.

The event marks the first critical survey of the Escarpment School. For that matter, it’s also the first real programme of Hancox’s work.

“My stuff has been shown in dribs and drabs, but never together like this,” he says. “So this is something of a special event.”

Is to neglect these unique bodies of work to miss out on the possibilities of what film can offer? “The degree to which we are shaped by mainstream culture is astounding,” Hoffman says. “It is sad that these wonderful works do not get shown.”

“I don’t understand why they’re not broadcasted. In places like Finland (and other European countries), if work gets funded it is screened. Canadian broadcasters think they’re protecting the public. From what?”

Hancox sees it less as an alternative to Hollywood than another sphere altogether. “It’s about considering film as an artistic medium,” he says. “And the two approaches to filmmaking are seeking out entirely different audiences.

“You really can’t lump together cinema that way. In fact, cinema hasn’t really been discovered yet. The language is still evolving.”

– Kenton Smith


~ by cineflyer on October 31, 2010.

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