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American Falls


USA Director: Phil Solomon 2010/color/55 min.


PHIL SOLOMON


While earning his MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art, Phil Solomon studied under the influential experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs. Early on, Stan Brakhage—with whom he later collaborated with while teaching at the University of Colorado—influenced Solomon’s work. Solomon received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994; in 1989, the Village Voice named Remains to Be Seen one of the top 10 films of the year.


Selected Filmography Seasons… (2002) Psalm III: “Night of the Meek” (2002) Psalm II: “Walking Distance” (1999) The Snowman (1995) The Exquisite Hour (1994) Remains to Be Seen (1989) The Secret Garden (1988) What’s Out Tonight Is Lost (1983) As If We (1980)


American Falls is a single-channel triptych adaptation of a 55-minute, six- channel, 5.1-Surround installation commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC. It was inspired by a trip that I took to the capital at the invitation of the Corcoran in 1999, where I first encountered Frederick Church’s great painting Niagara; took note of a multichannel video installation by Jennifer Steinkamp, projected onto the walls of the Corcoran rotunda; and went on walk- ing tours of various monuments to the fallen throughout the DC area.


The architecture of the rotunda in the vicinity of Niagara invited me to muse on creating an all-enveloping, manmade “falls”; I imagined my commission as something akin to a widescreen version of a WPA/Diego Rivera project at century’s end, where mediated images of the American Dream that I had been absorbing since childhood would flow together into the river with the roaring turbulence of America’s failures to sustain the myths and ideals so deeply embedded in the received iconography. Emerging historical currents continu- ously break down and revert to their molten, primal forms and amber waves of pageantry, all eventually converging over the falls (in every sense of the term) as the great unanswered question posed by Charles Ives at the dawn of the last century echoes: Whither America?


American Falls was supported by funding from the University of Oklahoma/ Thatcher Hoffman-Smith Award and the University of Colorado grants-in-aid program; it’s dedicated to Annie Edson Taylor and Jean François Gravelet (The Great Blondin). The first went over, the second walked above...


—PHIL SOLOMON Preceded by:


Still Raining, Still Dreaming Director: Phil Solomon USA/2010/12 min.


The last installment of the three-part series In Memoriam (for Mark LaPore), with all visual materials culled from the video game series Grand Theft Auto.


Sponsored by 49


PERSONAL CINEMA


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