Part of Spring 1991
In the early 80s, a Vancouver area group of five men and women bombed a Litton Systems cruise missile guidance plant, a hydroelectric installation and three Red Hot Video stores. Known as The Vancouver Five, the group became central in a debate amongst left and anarchist circles regarding the legitimacy of violent direct action. Given severe sentences, the group also illustrated the hegemonic power of institutions to suppress resistance. In his film Determinations, west coast filmmaker Oliver Hockenhall examines the parallels between this suppression of resistance and the suppression of construction in documentary film. The documentary cinema regularly claims a privileged relation to ‘reality’ by attempting to suppress its own constructions. Hockenhall’s film can be viewed amongst the growing number of films that question the documentary genre. Determinations incorporates Brechtian dramatic sequences, news footage and innovative cinematic techniques to explore how the dissemination of information is controlled and manipulated. Hockenhall’s film allows no singular representation of information to command centrality and defies any particular genre and interpretation.
Determinations – Oliver Hockenhall, 82 min, 1987.
“Hockenhall’s method follows the rules of neither the documentary nor the political diatribe. He does not tell a linear story because to do so would be false to the multiple connections between actions and events in the world. Nor does the film advocate any one method of thinking about causes; it is not pedantic. Instead, the viewer is flooded with a dense clutter of images and sound: scenes shot in a variety of cinematic styles, shots filmed off a television screen, rock and punk-rock music, diverse voices speaking and reading simultaneously. One describes violent acts against women, the other is a rather poetic idealized text about love. The viewer is thus forced to make a decision about how to listen to the texts: Which one? Or both? Or as a weave of word-sounds without meaning? One is encouraged to arrive at an independent judgement…” (Fred Camper, The Independent Eye)