Troy NY: Bill Brown "The Other Side" 8 PM 10/30/06

From: Dara G (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Oct 24 2006 - 14:45:41 PDT

> (Troy NY) The Capital Region premiere of "The Other Side" with film
> maker Bill Brown takes place at The Sanctuary For Independent Media
> (3361 6th Avenue in Troy) on Monday, October 30, 2006 at 7 PM.
> There will be a potluck with the film maker beginning at 6 PM.
> Brown is a filmmaker from Lubbock, Texas. He has made several short
> experimental documentaries about the dusty corners of the North
> American landscape, which he'll be screening along with his new
> film "The Other Side"--a 2000-mile journey along the U.S./Mexico
> border revealing a geography of aspiration and insecurity. While
> documenting the efforts of migrant activists to establish a network
> of water stations in the borderlands of the southwestern U.S.,
> Brown considers the border as a landscape, at once physical,
> historical, and political.
> "The Other Side" attempts to document the physical landscape of the
> borderlands, and the human landscape of cross-border migration. As
> increasingly militant US immigration policies have sealed the
> traditional avenues of migration from Mexico, undocumented migrants
> have resorted to crossing the remote deserts of the Southwest.
> Every summer, scores of people die while attempting this transit.
> In response, activist groups from Tucson to San Diego have
> established a network of water stations; man-made oases of plastic
> water bottles scattered throughout the border zone. This film, in
> part, documents those efforts.
> Bill Brown likes to travel. Meandering across the variegated
> landscapes of America from his home in Lubbock, Texas, the 32-year-
> old filmmaker has visited the reputed UFO landing site in Roswell,
> New Mexico, and traversed the lengthy Trans-Canadian Highway. He's
> visited decommissioned missile sites in North Dakota and wandered
> around the hills of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. But more
> importantly, he's made movies about his travels, creating an
> eminently unique body of work marked by stunning visuals and a
> personal voice, and hovering stylistically somewhere between
> ethnographic study, idiosyncratic travelogue, and critical essay.
> Between 1988 and 1992, Brown studied filmmaking in Harvard
> University's Visual and Environmental Studies Department, known for
> its emphasis on "old-fashioned documentary film production," as
> Brown puts it, where filmmakers such as Bob Gardner served as
> Brown's mentors. "It was exactly the right sort of program for me,"
> the filmmaker notes. "I didn't know anything about nonfiction
> filmmaking--my experience with movies was either the standard PBS-
> style documentary or traditional narrative films, but when it
> became clear that there was this huge genre of essay films, it was
> very exciting, a revelation. I'm still working through that
> enthusiasm."
> In 1994, the filmmaker traveled west to earn his MFA in the live-
> action filmmaking program at California Institute of the Arts where
> he studied with James Benning, a structuralist filmmaker who shares
> Brown's affection for the American countryside.
> "From the get-go, I was interested in landscape," confesses Brown,
> who adds, as if it explains everything, "I'm from Texas." He
> continues: "Landscapes are like relationships--I think I've fallen
> in love with landscapes. Some are inspiring, and some are
> uninspiring. But in general I guess this fascination with
> landscapes has to do with trying to square geological history with
> human history, to look at all this stuff that's around us and
> visible but mute. So I guess my ongoing project is to figure out
> what it is about landscape that gives me goosebumps."
> Working in 16mm, often with black-and-white stock, Brown says his
> projects begin with a question, some hook that will give him a
> reason to visit a place and begin shooting footage of it. With
> Roswell (1994), Brown was intrigued by New Mexico's desert vistas
> and the town's UFO folklore. For Buffalo Common (2001), Brown
> chronicled the dismantling of missile sites in North Dakota,
> alongside larger issues of war and economic decline. And for his
> latest half-hour film supported by Creative Capital, Mountain
> State, Brown is traipsing around West Virginia, tracing the history
> of a local legend--The Mothman, who reputedly haunted a town on the
> Ohio River in the 1960s.
> "There's this whole body of weird uncanny events that never make
> their way into the traditional media - things that happen to a
> community or town and then get forgotten," says Brown. "The
> creature called The Mothman is a part of that." First spotted in
> 1964, The Mothman has been described as a large, winged man in more
> than 100 sightings, and while the figure recently graced America's
> movie screens in The Mothman Prophecies starring Richard Gere and
> Laura Linney, you can bet that Brown's more vernacular approach
> will tap directly into the eerie recesses of our cultural
> mythology. Brown's images, which frequently show the landscape void
> of inhabitants, are strangely evocative and embody a sense of
> intense longing. Part of their power is that they are indeed filmed
> images rather than video.
> "There's a certain depth and saturation to the film image that I
> don't see in the flat, sterile video image," explains Brown. "I
> like grain and the way the image breathes, and there's this strange
> organic dynamism in the form of grain. I guess I fetishize the
> alchemy of the whole process - strips of silver that are stained by
> light and somehow become images . . . it's very magical and romantic."
> In addition to shooting beautiful, resplendent images and recording
> live sound, Brown also speaks in voiceover. "Text and language are
> incredibly important to me," he says. "I don't know if it's an
> effort to make the landscape speak, some feeble attempt to give it
> a voice, but I haven't figured out any other way to make these
> films without voiceover." Which is a good thing, because Brown's
> particular voice, with its quiet tone, colloquial familiarity, and
> moments of sublime poetic phrasing, endow his films with their
> singular power. Indeed, to say that Brown is one of America's
> leading new cinematic voices is true, both literally and
> metaphorically.
> Bill Brown's visit to the Capital Region is made possible by
> volunteer labor, small financial contributions from hundreds of
> patrons of The Sanctuary For Independent Media, and the Central New
> York Programmers Group in cooperation with the Experimental
> Television Center Presentation Funds program, which is supported by
> the New York State Council on the Arts. Admission to this screening
> is by donation ($10 suggested, $5 student/low income).
> The Sanctuary For Independent Media is a community media arts
> center located in an historic former church in Troy, NY. The
> Sanctuary hosts screening, production and performance facilities,
> training in media production and a meeting space for artists,
> activists and independent media makers of all kinds. The Sanctuary
> is located at 3361 6th Avenue, three doors down from 101st Street
> in north Troy. Call (518) 272-2390, email
> email suppressed, or visit
> for more information.
> # # #
> Hi-res image:
> Interview with Bill Brown:

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