The Road Ended at the Beach, and Other Legends: Part 1 Curated by Brett Kashmere

The Road Ended at the Beach, and Other Legends: A Map Turned To Landscape Curated Brett Kashmere
Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 7:00 PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque

Panel discussion to follow with Brett Kashmere, Rick Hancox, Janine Marchessault and Phil Hoffman.

The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends represents the first critical survey of Canada’s mythic and amorphous “Escarpment School,” a loosely knit band of Ontario-based filmmakers that came together in the late-70s at Sheridan College, under the tutelage of Rick Hancox and Jeffrey Paull.

Its assumed “members” include Hancox, Carl Brown, Philip Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom, Richard Kerr, Gary Popovich and Steve Sanguedolce, while Janis Cole, Holly Dale, Marion McMahon, and Mike Cartmell are occasionally linked to the group. A number of other accomplished filmmakers and cultural producers, such as Lorne Marin, Lorraine Segato (of The Parachute Club), and Alan Zweig overlapped with and intersected this circle, through acts of collaboration, social interactions, inspiration, and friendship. The American filmmaker and scholar George Semsel, Hancox’s first teacher and mentor, also deserves mention, as many of the concerns expressed in the films of the “Escarpment School” can be located in Semsel’s own cinematic work.

Paradoxically, what is most noteworthy about the “Escarpment School” today, whether seen as a legitimate art-historical movement or as a PR strategy concocted from within, is its absence from the annals of Canadian cinema, despite the influence and accolades of the aforementioned individuals. Did the “Escarpment School” ever exist, and if so, what did it look like, what might it look like now (with the hindsight of historical perspective), and how do we evaluate its legacy? This four-part series seeks to celebrate the “Escarpment School” as a unique confluence in Canadian film history and to simultaneously expand the frame, by offering an inclusive, inter-generational interpretation of its membership.

Part I: A Map Turned To Landscape

The “Escarpment School” receives its name from the Niagara Escarpment, the most prominent of several land shelves formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes, located several miles southwest of Sheridan College. All of its central figures either grew up around, or lived/worked in some proximity to the escarpment. While much of the “Escarpment School’s” history and activity is like cinema itself, spectral (now you see it, now you don’t), one manifest aspect is a desire for understanding through physical exploration and encounter with landscape. Taking their cameras on the road, to the ocean’s shoreline and across southern borders, the filmmakers featured here infuse rituals of masculinity with critical self-reflection and patient, poetic lensing; often conjoined in a diary or travelogue format.

Although varied in tone and texture, the films in this program share numerous qualities, including an attention to geography, a drive to record reality, the filtering of documentary material through individual experience, the looming presence of America, and a process-based, formalist approach to nonfiction. These characteristics in turn reflect the twin impact of the New American Cinema and its conterminous postwar movements, especially Beat literature, as well as the Canadian social documentary tradition, which were often viewed side-by-side in the “Escarpment School” classroom.


Landscape by George Semsel
Trains of Thought by Loren Marin
Beach Events by Rick Hancox
The Road Ended At The Beach by Philip Hoffman
His Romantic Movement by Richard Kerr
Somewhere Between Jalostatitlan and Encarnacion by Philip Hoffamn
Mexico by Mike Hoolboom & Steve Sanguedolce


~ by cineflyer on October 31, 2010.

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