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Road Ended at the Beach, The
Canada / 33:00 / 1983 / sound / colour
In making this film I collected images and sound over six years of travel (not continuous) through Canada. Keeping daily both filmic and written records, I focused on people and places, my relationships to them, and the changes that occurred between each visit. I would collect these images freely: later to examine and make meaning of during the editing process. In this film I started to consciously pursue the relationship between a formal chronicle of events and my memory of those events. (PH)

"The film is a series of 'telling' incidents in which events, which fall short of expectations, are confronted by more 'vibrant' memories of the past. The subject, the filmmaker /diarist, whose consciousness encompasses this flow or passage of time, uses failure to make his strongest points about the convergence and intermingling of anticipation and event, experience and memory. On the road, he and his friends spend time with an old buddy who makes his own music at home but has to play in a military band to earn a living, forcing them to come to terms with their own diminished expectations on the trip they are undertaking as compared to trips in the past. The story of a woodcarver who lives with his family in rural Nova Scotia seems idyllic until we find that he must also work in a fish cannery to survive.

"The film itself is an account of failure. Spurred on by the mythology of Jack Kerouac and his life on the road, the travelers visit Robert Frank in order to learn more about the Beats. Frank matter-of-factly dismisses their quest by noting that Kerouac is dead and the Beat era is over. In a partial response to this shattering myth, the filmmaker goes over the ground of the journey once again, only this time he includes the frustrations, the dead-ends and the low spots. The smooth, linearly developing narrative that we earlier understood to be the product of the filmmakers' consciousness is now questioned and replaced by a series of stops and starts, memories and reveries.

"The final sequence of the film marks this re-evaluation and change most emphatically. The sequence shows a beach in Newfoundland on a bright clear day, children and dogs crossing in front of the camera. Yet each time someone disappears off-frame the filmmaker jump-cuts to a new action. On the beach where the roads ends discontinuity becomes a virtue, a form of concentration that validates exceptional experience, just as recollection and anticipation validate certain memories and fantasies." - David Poole

"Phil Hoffman's work is very much work about what it is to take a picture of some incident, of what happens to the relationship between the camera and the subject: it's very much concerned with the nature of photography, and with questions of time that one would expect people who are interested in photography to deal with. I mean a photograph is always from the past and one of his films is about trying to go back to the Beat period and resurrect it, so he can turn back to a photograph and resurrect the past, in a sense, and what he finds out, of course, is that the past is unrecoverable." - Bruce Elder, Cinema Canada
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
32 Lisgar Street
Toronto ON Canada M6J 0C9
Monday - Thursday / 10:00 - 18:00
(416)  588 - 0725
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
32 Lisgar Street
Toronto ON Canada M6J 0C9
Monday - Thursday / 10:00 - 18:00
(416)  588 - 0725