Underground Film Journal

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First Person Cinema: Phil Solomon

By Mike Everleth ⋅ February 19, 2011

Text logo for First Person Cinema

Feb. 21
7:00 p.m.
ATLAS Building 223 University of Colorado at Boulder
1125 18th St. 320 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309

Hosted by: First Person Cinema

The First Person Cinema series didn’t have to go very far to find the featured filmmaker at this event. Phil Solomon has been a film history, aesthetics and production professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder since 1991.

For this screening, Professor Solomon will show his recently restored 1983 film What’s Out Tonight Is Lost, a single-channel triptych version of his 2010 American Falls installation piece, and an excerpt from his most recent work-in-progress The Uncanny Valley.

What’s Out Tonight Is Lost is a silent 16mm, 8-minute meditation on the treacherous navigation through the hazy cloud of memory. Faceless figures dance in repetitive motions while outside vehicles cross fog-laden landscapes. Heavily saturated in dark hues, the snippets of time edited together hang with a heavy coldness, as if the past has been eternally frozen. The film has been recently restored by the Academy Archive in Los Angeles.

American Falls was originally commissioned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. as a 55-minute, 6-channel, 5.1 Surround installation piece. The video was projected on the walls of the Corcoran rotunda so that viewers were completely enveloped by the sound and images.

The piece is an ode to the American Dream and inspired by the painting Niagara by Frederick Church, which hangs in the Corcoran. Solomon manipulates found footage, old Hollywood silent film and documentary film about significant events in American history by layering it beneath images of falling water. The effect of this, as described by the filmmaker is:

Emerging historical currents continuously 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?

Watch a preview of the opening section of American Falls on Vimeo.

As for the excerpt from The Uncanny Valley that will be screening, the only info available as of this writing is that the film is a Western.

To learn more about Phil Solomon, please visit his official website.

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