Bill Brown, film still from Mountain State, 2003, 16mm film reproduced as digital video

Bill Brown, film still from Mountain State, 2003, 16mm film reproduced as digital video

Bill Brown

My films all begin with a place. Then I get to work, correlating geographical coordinates with conceptual ones. I am drawn to castaway places: like coal towns in West Virginia (“Mountain State”, 2001). Places that are flown over or just plain forgotten. It is in these places, perhaps better than elsewhere, that we can take an inventory of our American dreams and desires, for they’re piled up there, derelict, waiting for some kid genius or broken-hearted visionary to take possession of them. My dream– the big, hopeless one– is to make a movie about every single one of these places.

I am interested in landscape, and in the hidden meanings folded up inside a place. I like the idea that topography has its own careful codings, its own secret language that cinema can draw out. I work primarily within the non-narrative tradition, that curious practice that dispenses with actors and scripts, but that finds the world full of stories, all the same. I am particularly interested in the essay film, and the way spoken language with its own complex codings figures into the visual codes of cinema.

Bill Brown (Madison, WI) received his undergraduate education in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. A few of his many grants and honors include the Rooftop Filmmakers’ Fund Grant in 2008; the Mediascope Retrospective, MOMA, 2003; the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in 2002; and the Fulbright Scholarship in 1997. His artist residencies include The MacDowell Colony in 2009 and The Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, UT in 2004. Brown is an Assistant Professor of Media Production at the University of Wisconsin and has taught at numerous other institutions across the country. His video “Mountain State” has shown internationally since 2002 in many places including: the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, Kino Babylon, Berlin, KIC, Zagreb, Croatia, and the NY Underground Film Festival.

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