Rick Hancox speaking at the Art Gallery of Ontario
I’m a little overwhelmed by all this attention to my work. My natural Canadian instincts tell me I must be someone from elsewhere who deserves all this… but on the other hand, I’m so focused right no on getting my new film Moose Jaw into shape, I’m not as afraid as I thought I would be, at least not for now.
Of course, the other thing that gets me off the hook tonight is that it’s not really my night-it’s my student’s night-or should I say my former students. One of the nice things about teaching-the day you really look forward to-is the day the roles are reversed. For many years now, I’ve been as influenced by the current work of some of my students as they ever were of me-they seem to have the amazing ability to continually reinvent Canadian cinema.
it’s probably true that something magic happened at
In particular, the name of Jeff Paull comes up in this connection. He taught optical printing, among other things, and while we occasionally differed on pedagogy, we had one thing in common: our idea of “visual literacy,” as we called it then, was Paul Sharits films (or Pat O’Neill, Brakhage, Deren, Snow, Wieland and others). We delighted in taking first year students, fresh out of high school, and zapping them with films which in some cases, required epilepsy warnings; or it meant showing them what were really the beginnings of Canadian experimental documentary film practice-like the one about the guy who supposedly delivers his suicide note on camera then blows himself into the Canadian landscape with fifty pounds of TNT. The film had a great title Blow Job and more than once the Sheridan Purchasing Department refused to order it.
If I was a
good teacher then it was largely by accident; I wasn’t much older than the
students themselves, and knew little about teaching. But I had a lot of
enthusiasm about alternate film practice that I guess spilled over. I hesitate
to use the word “experimental” film practice because too often it’s interpreted
only as 1960s
we’re going to see documentary and narrative films as well-because what was
important for us at
tonight’s films are a sampling of 16mm work by students it was my privilege to
teach. In making the selection I’m sure I have overlooked many other good
films, and I apologize to those students for the necessary evils of
programming. The films cover the years I was at
The films you are about to see are truly remarkable for student works. They’re all now in distribution as professional films, many of them have won major awards, and others are first works by people who are now highly respected independent filmmakers. Still others are by people who haven’t been heard from since; they made one amazing film and then burned out like comets in the process.