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passing through / torn formations
Canada / 43:00 / 1988 / sound / colour & b/w
Music by Tucker Zimmerman.

"'passing through/torn formations' extends from Eastern Europe and back again - an unraveling tapestry of family relations that speak of migration and translation." - Marian McMahon

"Philip Hoffman's 'passing through/torn formations' is a wide open ramble through the labyrinth of memory, considered primarily as a family affair. The film deals with the life and history of Hoffman's Czech-born mother and her family, as presented as a kind of polyphonic recitation of words, of images and of sounds." - Robert Everett-Green, Globe & Mail

"'passing through/torn formations' accomplishes a multi-faceted experience for the viewer. It is a poetic document of family, for instance - but Philip Hoffman's editing throughout is true thought process, tracks visual theme as the mind tracks shape, makes melody of noise and words as the mind recalls sound. " - Stan Brakhage

"The film does not record the journey in a linear way. The elements of the journey are strained through out the mind, using the mechanics of memory and the imagination as a basis for the form. And this was the strategy I followed to construct characters as well throughout the film. Family members from Canada and relatives from Czechoslovakia are not easy to identify because their identities continually shift and slide. These characters are transferable throughout the film, for instance, you see an image or images of a certain person and there is a voice-over with this person. Later on in the film different voices are attached to the image of the person earlier seen. It's a way of avoiding the conventional approach to character construction whereby the character's identity gets pinned down and there's less work for the audience. I tried to make a form that allows the viewer to participate in the construction of the characters. As well, this method takes the emphasis off individuals, the family exists more as a whole, albeit a tumultuous whole." - Philip Hoffman, Cantrill's Filmnotes

"The film's theme of reconciliation begins with death's mediation - and moves its broken signifiers together in the film's central image, 'the corner mirror,' two mirrored rectangles stacked at right angles. This looking glass offers a 'true reflection'- not the reversed image of the usual mirror, but the objectified stare of the other... Each figure in the film has a European double, as if the entry into the New World carried with it not only the inevitable burdens of translation (from the Latin 'translation' - to bear across) but also the burden of all that could not be said or carried, to all that needed to be left behind." - Mike Hoolboom, Cinema Canada
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16mm beta sp ntsc
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