Preface and Acknowlegments by Catherine Jonasson


Originally published in a catalogue: Richard Hancox (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1990)


The experimental film tradition in Canada is young in relation to France or the United States; nevertheless, it is highly esteemed internationally. Our thirty-year history has produced three "generations" of filmmakers, each of whom has made significant contributions to the practice of avant-garde film. The most senior group of filmmakers includes Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, Jack Chambers and David Rimmer, all artists who came to film after having established reputations within more traditional art media. In the early 1970s a "second generation" of experimental filmmakers emerged, who worked strictly within the film medium. Richard Hancox belongs to this second generation of Canadian filmmakers (which includes Al Razutis and Chris Gallagher).


Hancox was born in Toronto in 1946 but spent time in various parts of the country as he was growing up; Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Ontario. His films reflect a sense of regional differences and a conscious search for a relationship to the natural and cultural environments he has known. As an English student at the University of Prince Edward Island, his interests were originally literary, but under the influence of George Semsel, Hancox became aware of the films of Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Marie Menken, Maya Deren, etc., ans wa intrigued by the world of avant-garde film. Semsel was also instrumental in suggesting the route that was to interest Hancox-the autobiographical film. Hancox went on to do ,graduate work in film at NYU and Ohio University. Through the late 1960s and 1970s Hancox experimented with different genres and narrative structures, and returned in the early 1980s to his interest in poetics with Waterworx, Landfall and Beach Events. His most recently completed film, Moose Jaw, re-exmaines the autobiographical film but also explores Hancox's past relationshp to a larger cultural history and philosophy. While Rick Hancox is represented here only by his films, there is another aspect to his career that may be equally important, and that is his teaching. From m1973 to 1985 he taught at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and he presently teaches in the Communications Studies Department at Concordia University in Montreal. A remarkable number of "third generation" of Canadian experimental filmmakers-Richard Kerr, Phil Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom to name only a few-graduated from Sheridan during the Hancox years. Hancox is a filmmaker in midcareer, who has produced a considerable body of important work. this retrospective and catalogue provide the opportunity to examine the films within a Canadian and an international context.


This catalogue was published in conjunction with a film retrospective of the work of Richard Hancox that was presented November 2-23, 1990, at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The retrospective was organized by the film department of the AGO, and we would like to thank the artist for his considerable assistance in preparing this series. We also appreciate the efforts by the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre on behalf of the filmmaker.