Beyond Zero: 1914-1918

Alternate Cinema

SIFF Says:

Sourcing original 35mm nitrate footage shot during the first World War, filmmaker Bill Morrison pieces together a unique visual exploration from footage that has never been viewed by modern audiences, and will never be seen again outside of this film. Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov created the score, commissioned by the famed San Francisco string combo the Kronos Quartet and inspired by anti-war writings, music, and art created during and immediately after WWI. “I intended to juxtapose historical accounts of war with the finest expressions of spirit and creativity occurring at the same time,” Vrebalov said, her score using speech recordings, military commands, air-raid sirens, and musical excerpts from Bartók, Huelsenbeck, and Byzantine hymns. Director Morrison (2002’s DECASIA), who has built much of his experimental and prolific filmmaking career combining rare archival material with contemporary music, has made brand new HD scans of these deteriorating, 100-year-old films. This footage—training exercises, parades, troop movements—is not only “a record of war as a series of documents passed along to us like a message in a bottle,” as Morrison explains, but also a metaphor of film’s own materiality. BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918 will be preceded by Morrison’s short film BACK TO THE SOIL.

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Film Credits
Bill Morrison
Kronos Quartet: David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Sunny Yang
SIFF 2015