Wed

21/07

Auditorium DAMSLab > 16:50

THE VILLAGE DETECTIVE / Buried News

Introduced by

Bill Morrison

Projection
Info

Wednesday 21/07/2021
16:50

Subtitle

Original version with subtitles

Book

THE VILLAGE DETECTIVE: A SONG CYCLE

Film Notes

In July 2016 I got an email from the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, who had heard that a commercial fisherman in Iceland had recently found four reels of a Soviet film in his net. The reels were recovered 20 miles off the west coast of Iceland: at the bottom, and in the middle of, the Atlantic Ocean, not far from where the continental plates meet, meaning they were found just at the geological division between East and West.

The film, Derevenskiy detektiv (1969), was not a lost, rare, or even, to my mind a particularly good film. It is well-known to Russians of a certain age, and it is still shown on television in Russia with some regularity. I noted that its star, Mikhail Zharov, had had an extraordinarily long and productive career in both film and in theater.

As I often make new films out of disused old films, I was interested in learning more. The next year I traveled to Iceland and to Moscow. In Iceland I interviewed the fisherman Gisli Gylfason and the archivist Erlendur Sveinsson who had recovered the film. And in Moscow I interviewed the curator Peter Bagrov, who led me on a deep dive into Zharov’s filmography.

Tragically Jóhann died in February 2018 at the age of 48 and I began to think about the film I was making as being about mortality and immortality. It’s about what one leaves behind, and how that reflects the world in which you lived in. It’s about what makes up a life, and the vessels that carry it through this world and into the next one.

With that in mind, I approached my friend and frequent collaborator David Lang with this project, The Village Detective: a song cycle. David was inspired by the fact that, after having sat on the bottom of the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for nearly 50 years, this film had new stories to tell. We arrived at the idea of a soundtrack for a single accordion – a single set of lungs diving into the ocean to retrieve this story and breathe life back into an archaic film. The extraordinary music David wrote perfectly captures this, and the beautiful, tragic and inexorable drift of time.

Bill Morrison

Cast and Credits

M.: Bill Morrison. Mus.: David Lang. Prod.: Bill Morrison, Maria Vinogradova in collaborazione con Picture Palace Pictures. DCP. Col.

BURIED NEWS

Film Notes

In 1929, a bank manager in Dawson City, Yukon Territory buried hundreds of silent film reels in a defunct swimming pool, in an effort to dispose of them safely. Forty-nine years later, in 1978, the reels were uncovered by a construction team, and the collection of silent films became known as the Dawson Film Find. Among the 533 reels that were ultimately restored, there were 114 newsreels, each reel containing five or six individual news stories, each one about a minute in length.

Four of these news stories, produced between 1917 and 1920, have been included here in Buried News. Seen together, they reveal how race has historically been used as a tool in the USA to divide people for the commercial or political gain of those in power. Archival footage captures the aftermath of race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1917, and in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919, as well as extremely rare, and heretofore believed to be lost, footage of the siege of the Lexington, Kentucky courthouse in 1920.

Bill Morrison

Cast and Credits

Mus.: Charlton Singleton, Jlin. Prod.: Bill Morrison DCP. Bn.