CFS gets ‘Invisible,’ a Philly indie film

Chris Sawby

Richard Power Hoffmann, a Philadelphia writer and filmmaker, understands the difficulty of surviving as a struggling artist. His 2003 directorial debut, “Invisible Mountains,” witnesses the trials, personal thoughts and misadventures of Paul Weil, a young art school drop-out trying to surmount the intangible but very real “invisible mountains” of financial insolvency. Paul’s problem is exacerbated by a lack of emotional support from family members and an artistically debilitating creative impasse.

Hoffmann, unlike his protagonist, completed his studies (at New York University’s film school) and went on to found his own company, Coyopa Productions, to establish artistically agreeable financial security for himself and, at the same time, to aid other up-and-coming artists. Still, Hoffmann admits that he has imbued Paul Weil and his story with semi-autobiographical characteristics. For example, Paul’s struggle to rediscover and develop his artistic voice in the face of commercializing influences and pecuniary realities reflects the artistic experiences of artists Hoffmann has known, as well as his own experience with the hardships of simultaneously earning a living wage and keeping the drive to make art.

“This movie is about the common artist . . . struggling day in and day out, working other jobs but still maintaining the love and the will to create,” Hoffman said. Any painter, writer, musician or actor who has faced the schism between artistic freedom and financial security can immediately identify with Paul’s plight.

A native of the Philadelphia area, the multi-talented Hoffmann handled the writing, directing and animation of the film. “Invisible Mountains” was five years in the making, shot on a miniscule budget provided mostly by the Philadelphia Council of the Arts and cast with local talent. As cinema, “Invisible Mountains” tells Paul’s universal story with a creative blend of live action and animation that alternates between the realities of his everyday life and the vivid, animated thoughts of his artistic and emotional inner struggle.

“Invisible Mountains,” which was a sell-out success at last year’s Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, will kick off this semester’s Cultural Film and Lecture Series, “Loss of Innocence/Growth of Awareness.” It will be screened four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday, January 29 at 7 pm, Sunday, January 30 at 3:30 and 7 p.m., and Monday, January 31 at 7 p.m. Admission is $3.50 for students with valid ID and $5 for all others. The Monday evening showing will include Richard Hoffmann himself as a special guest speaker, offering a rare opportunity to hear thoughts on the film and the issues it addresses from the creative mind behind the scenes.

For more information, call the Communication Department at 9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or visit the CFS web page.