Residency news: The Village Detective premieres at the Moscow Film Fest

David Filipi, Director, Film/Video

Apr 27, 2021

Still of a man in a captain's hat on degrading nitrate film from the Bill Morrison film The Village Detective

We’re sending warm wishes to filmmaker Bill Morrison whose latest creation, The Village Detective: A Song Cycle, has its world premiere today at the Moscow Film Festival. We are proud to have supported Bill in the film’s production through a 2018 Wexner Center Artist Residency Award in Film/Video. 

The Village Detective takes its title from a 1969 Soviet film of the same name, a print of which was found in a fisherman’s net off the coast of Iceland in 2016. Morrison follows the story of the print’s discovery and examines the career of Soviet actor Mikhail Zharov, the star of the original film and a performer whose career almost spanned the life of the Soviet Union. 

Filmmaker Bill Morrison in the Wexner Center for the Arts projection booth

Bill Morrison in the Wex's projection booth during a 2012 visit; photo: Blair Perry

In his work, Bill unearths forgotten, often heavily deteriorated film footage and reassembles it in personal and poetic ways. His 2002 film Decasia is a haunting tapestry of mostly decomposed film footage from the silent era. It is the first film made in the 21st century to be named to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. His 2016 film Dawson City: Frozen Time was named one of the best films of that year by numerous publications. Bill used film footage that had been buried beneath an old hockey rink in the Yukon for decades, and the story around the film’s production helped it become a minor sensation beyond the typical art house circuit.  As part of his research on the film, Bill uncovered rare footage from the infamous 1919 World Series in which members of the Chicago “Black” Sox were accused of throwing the series against the Cincinnati Reds. Some longtime Wex regulars might remember that Bill very generously allowed this footage to be included in my Rare Baseball Films program in 2014. 

We’re hoping to host Bill, in-person, for a screening of The Village Detective as soon as we can, perhaps in late 2021 or early 2022. In the meantime, you can listen to the song cycle produced for the film by Bill and composer David Lang here.


Top of page: The Village Detective, image courtesy of Kino Lorber

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