The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends: Parsing the “Escarpment School”

Monday, November 21, 2011 - 7:30 pm

Programmed by Brett Kashmere (in attendance)

A unique but overlooked confluence in Canadian film history, the “Escarpment School” outlines a loosely knit band of Ontario-based filmmakers that came of age in the late-1970s. Its affiliates include the celebrated experimental filmmakers Philip Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom, Richard Kerr, Carl Brown, Gary Popovich and Steve Sanguedolce, who studied together at Sheridan College, under the tutelage of Rick Hancox and Jeffrey Paull. Over the past thirty years, the Escarpment School cineastes have helped to inaugurate Canada’s first-person cinema; reinvented documentary as a mode for self-expression and formal exploration; extended and deepened the rich landscape tradition in Canadian art; and inspired the next generation of filmmakers through their work and their teaching.

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.

George Semsel, Landscape. 1977, 16mm, 3mins, USA.
Lorne Marin, Trains of Thought. 1983, 16mm, 10mins, Canada.
Richard Hancox, Beach Events. 1984, 16mm, 8mins, Canada.

Philip Hoffman, The Road Ended at the Beach. 1983, 16mm, 30mins, Canada.
Richard Kerr, His Romantic Movement. 1984, 16mm, 15mins, Canada.
Philip Hoffman, Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion. 1983, 16mm, 6mins, Canada.
Mike Hoolboom and Steve Sanguedolce, Mexico. 1992, 16mm, 35mins, Canada.

The films in this program are distributed by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

This program is the first in a four screening series originally curated for the Winnipeg Cinematheque.

image: The Road Ended at the Beach by Philip Hoffman (1983)