From: Canadian Encyclopedia
Richard, "Rick," filmmaker, film teacher, musician
(born in Toronto, January 1,
1946). Hancox grew up in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Prince
Edward Island. All three locations have informed his poetic
and finely crafted experimental documentaries, which fuse
personal landscapes with issues of time, memory and history.
was introduced to film at the University of Prince Edward
Island by American documentary filmmaker George Semsel. He
went on to do graduate work in film and photography at New
York University and at Ohio University, where he earned an
MFA in film in 1973. During that period his short films won
five major awards in the Canadian Student Film Festival.
working briefly in New York as an independent filmmaker, Hancox
went on to teach film at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont
he influenced a generation of Canadian independent filmmakers
including the documentarians Holly Dale and Janis Cole and
experimental filmmakers such as Richard Kerr, Philip Hoffman,
Michael Hoolboom and others, who, along with Hancox, have
as belonging to a movement in Canadian experimental film that
is referred to as the "escarpment school" - named
after the geological feature, the Niagara Escarpment. Hancox
left Sheridan to teach in the Communication Studies Department
of Concordia University in Montréal.
often blends the poetic with the cinematic as in the trilogy
of "poetry films" Waterworx (1982), Landfall (1983)
and Beach Events (1985). He is also known for autobiographical
documentaries best illustrated by Home for Christmas (1978).
Moose Jaw (1992), which was recognized in Take One magazine
as one of the ten best films ever made in Canada, marks a
new direction for Hancox. Like all his best work, Moose Jaw
charges the term "landscape" with extra meaning.
His work demonstrates, through the cinematic image, how personal
memory is mediated by social and historical contexts.
From: Canadian Film Encyclopedia
Hancox is an important figure in the development of experimental
film in Canada – both for his filmmaking and his influence.
From 1973 to 1985 he taught at Sheridan College, where he
and his colleague Jeffrey Paull were instrumental in shaping
the sensibilities of a new generation of filmmakers. Hancox’s
students included the documentarians Janis Cole and Holly
Dale and experimental filmmakers Mike Hoolboom, Philip Hoffman
and Richard Kerr.
by the American independent filmmaker George Semsel, with
whom he had studied both at the University of Prince Edward
Island, and later, the University of Ohio in Athens, where
he received an M.F.A., Hancox encouraged his students to investigate
questions of time, memory, landscape and documentary convention.
He also explored the relationship of images to words in film,
whether spoken or as super-titles on screen. Arguably, the
trend toward personal cinema and experimental documentary
in Canadian experimental cinema in the 1980s began with Hancox,
thus indirectly establishing what has come to be known as
the Escarpment School. In 1986, Hancox joined the communication
studies department at Concordia University.
for The Canadian Encyclopedia, Lianne McLarty suggested that
"Hancox often blends the poetic with the cinematic, as
in the trilogy of 'poetry films' Waterworx (A Clear Day and
No Memories) (1982), Landfall (1983) and Beach Events (1984).
He is also known for autobiographical documentaries best illustrated
by Home for Christmas (1978)." In her extended study
of his work Richard Hancox (Art Gallery of Ontario, 1990),
McLarty wrote that the "general movement in Hancox's
films has been from the personal to the collective environment."
Indeed, his work might be seen to evolve through the observation
of the banalities of day-to-day life toward a surreal feeling
for the separateness of landscape and the alienating effects
of our technological world.
that the modernist movement in the arts largely bypassed Canada,
critics like Michael Dorland have suggested that experimental
filmmakers such as Hancox sometimes retreat to nostalgia,
which he defines as "the longing for a past that never
was from the perspective of a present one cannot accept (Richard
Hancox, 1990)." Dorland continues, "the Hancoxian
universe compels one 'outside our time' into irony."
autobiographical films move from the irony of self within
landscape (House Movie, 1972; Home for Christmas) through
aspirations toward transcendence, with the help of the poetic
texts of Wallace Stevens and D.G. Jones (Waterworx, Landfall)
to a return to the irony of self within landscape —
but with a difference. Moose Jaw:There's a Future in Our Past
(1992) documents Hancox's return to one of the places where
he grew up, as if to investigate the changes that have occurred
since this once thriving town lost its railway. Although spectators
are allowed to see many characteristics about this space —
the remnants of the old railway station, the Eaton's department
store, the annual Kinsman parade — Hancox presents himself
largely as a shadow, cut off from a living relationship with
this past. He ends up as just another exhibit in the transportation
museum, both trapped and bored by his own quest, suggesting
that among the many ironies in this particular film, the greatest
resides in its title.ex