Past Film/Video | Visiting Filmmakers

The Village Detective: a song cycle

(Bill Morrison, 2021)

Bill Morrison in person

Artist Residency | Columbus Premiere

A deteriorating strip of film with an image of a man in a hat burned onto it

Filmmaker Bill Morrison visits to introduce and discuss his latest feature, The Village Detective: a song cycle, which was created with the support of a 2018 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award.

Bill Morrison, whom the New York Times called "the poet laureate of lost films," returns to the Wex with The Village Detective, whose creation began with the discovery of a film canister on the ocean floor off Iceland's coast. The contents of that canister, a 1969 Soviet comedy also called The Village Detective, serves as the catalyst for Morrison’s meditation on the arc of Soviet history and cinema through the person of beloved actor Mikhail Zharov. Zharov appeared in scores of films including Sergei Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible (1942–44) and as the titular figure in Village Detective. Grammy Award–winning composer David Lang, cofounder of Bang on a Can, created the film’s score.

Morrison is best known for taking found and often seriously decomposed footage and almost alchemically recrafting this material into his own unique and personal cinematic compositions. The Wex-supported Village Detective is no exception. (81 mins., DCP).

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"Morrison, who is producer, director and editor of this strangely intoxicating film, is a cinematic investigator of the first stripe."
New York Times
Bill Morrison wearing a ball cap and dark glasses. He stands in front of a tree.

Bill Morrison | Photo by Wolfgang Wesener

A deteriorating strip of film with an image of a man in a hat burned onto it

The Village Detective | Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

An image of a deteriorating piece of film

The Village Detective | Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

A ghostly image of a person's face in profile

The Village Detective | Image courtesy of Kino Lorber

About the Artist

Bill Morrison chevron-down chevron-up

Wex filmgoers might remember Morrison's celebrated 2016 film Dawson City: Frozen Time, which included footage that had been buried under an ice hockey rink in the Yukon in 1929, as well as his 2012 Wex co-commissioned collaboration with composer Bill Frisell, The Great Flood. In 2013, his film Decasia (2002) was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. Finally, his discovery of rare footage of the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox World Series was included in our 2014 Rare Baseball Films program.

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Past Film/Video

The Village Detective: a song cycle