Bill Morrison

Filmmaker Bill Morrison has presented new "found footage" works at all seven editions of the Orphan Film Symposium. His work has been influenced by what he has seen, and who he has met, at the conference, particularly in its University of South Carolina offerings. Many of his films have mined the unique footage in the Fox Movietone News collection housed at USC, both for the beauty he finds in nitrate film deterioration and for the remarkable documentary images, sometimes in near pristine condition. Titles shown at previous symposiums include The Film of Her, Decasia, Light Is Calling, The Mesmerist, Outerborough, and Who By Water.  In April 2010, Morrison premieres two new works: Release, a collaboration with Vijay Iyer, at the Tribeca Film Festival and San Francisco International Film Festival; and Spark of Being, an evening-length collaboration with trumpeter/composer Dave Douglas, at Stanford University, April 24, 2010.

At the 2010 Orphan Film Symposium, Morrison will co-present with George Willeman (nitrate vault manager at the Library of Congress Audio-Visual Conservation Center). Knowing of the filmmaker's penchant for conspicuously decayed nitrate film imagery, Willeman set aside some remarkable prints from a collection recently acquired by the Library. The two will screen excerpts from films including Pathé's stencil-colored The Life of Christ (1908). 

Morrison is also working with sixteen reels of 16mm film shot by a relative in 1927. Entitled The Around the World Travel Diary of Mr. and Mrs. Felix M. Warburg and James H. Becker, it documents the title characters' survey of Jewish refugee camps for the Joint Distribution Committee. Becker (Morrison's grandfather) also made a short film out of the diary footage, a JDC sponsored film he called Back to the Soil (1927).  An abridged version of this will be screened at the conclusion of Orphans 7.

Select Films by Bill Morrison:

  • Night Highway (1990)
  • Lost Avenues (1991)
  • Photo Op (1992)
  • Footprints (1992)
  • The Death Train (1993)
  • The World Is Round (1994)
  • Nemo (1995)
  • Film of Her (1996)
  • City Walk (1999)
  • Ghost Trip (2000)
  • Trinity (2000)
  • Decasia (2002) [Excerpts available here and here]
  • East River (2003)
  • The Mesmerist (2003)
  • Light is Calling (2004)
  • Gotham (2004)
  • Outerborough (2005) [Hear Bill introduce the film at the 5th Orphan Film Symposium here, and hear his post-screening Q&A here)
  • How To Pray (2006)
  • The Highwater Trilogy (2006)
  • Who By Water (2006) [Hear Bill introduce the film at the 5th Orphan Film Symposium here]
  • Fuel (2007)
  • Dystopia (2008)


2004 Offscreen Interview:

2006 Senses of Cinema Interview:

Website for the film Decasia, including stills, clips, and press on the film:

Watch Bill Morrison's film Light Is Calling (8:11):


Post-Orphans 7 Coverage

Eric Kohn, "Essential Orphanistas," Screen Rush, Apr. 9, 2010.