Speaker: Bill Morrison, Director
Director Bill Morrison, known for his enthralling collages of found footage, reconstructs a new version of D.W. Griffith’s 1910 short film The Unchanging Sea after finding a damaged copy in the nitrate vaults of the Library of Congress. The original film tells the story of a man who nearly drowns and loses his memory, leaving his wife and newborn daughter no more than mere strangers. Morrison’s version includes footage shot in Seattle in 1897, when the S.S. Willamette sailed out of Puget Sound loaded with 800 passengers and 300 horses headed for the Klondike. Michael Gordon’s musical score merges subtle rhythmic invention with incredible power embodying, in the words of The New Yorker's Alex Ross, “the fury of punk rock, the nervous brilliance of free jazz, and the intransigence of classical modernism.” (Bill Morrison, 2018, USA, 30 minutes)
BILL MORRISON’S films typically source rare archival footage in which long-forgotten, and sometimes deteriorated, imagery is reframed as part of a collective mythology. His work has been recognized with the Alpert Award, Creative Capital, a Guggenheim fellowship, and has had a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia (2002), with music by Michael Gordon, was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013), with music by Bill Frisell, won the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016), with music by Alex Somers, won numerous awards including a Critics’ Choice Award for the most innovative documentary, and was included on over 100 critics’ lists of the best films of 2017. Along with those mentioned above, Morrison has collaborated with some of the most celebrated musicians and composers of our time, including John Adams, Maya Beiser, Gavin Bryars, Philip Glass, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Kronos Quartet, and Julia Wolfe, among many others. This year marks Morrison’s third appearance at Film Days.