The Manifest Destiny Show

“The Manifest Destiny Show,” designed by Will Schaff, printed by Alec Thibodeau

“The Manifest Destiny Show,” designed by Will Schaff, printed by Alec Thibodeau


Hot on the heels of Valentine’s Day, Magic Lantern closes its eyes, spreads out its arms, and waits to open-mouth kiss that cinematic heartthrob you all know as Bill Brown. Sure, he’ll be all dust and sweat from his long wagon train ride east from Detroit, but you can bet your Indian Head Nickel that Bill won’t let a trip like that wear him out. After all, he’s this century’s itinerant Mark Twain – tousled brown hair and dry wit and incisive observations about the Land We Stand On and the Heart That Beats Inside Us All. Equipped with little more than a Bolex, a microphone, and a mule of some sort, Bill’s been wandering the outskirts of Our Fair Continent for the last millenium, in search of the deeper truths about Borders and History and Where We Fit Into It All. Already a favorite son of Magic Lantern (you saw his film Confederation Park in “The Geography Show”), we’ve invited Bill to the Biggest Little to present two of his newest films in person – and sure, the Gold Rush of ‘49 would be a good excuse to miss him, but we all know that happened at least 150 years ago…

Featuring: Mountain State by Bill Brown (20:00, 16mm, 2003), Chicago Detroit Split by Bill Brown and Thomas Comerford (10:00, unslit 8mm, 2005), The Other Side by Bill Brown (43:00, 16mm, 2006)

TRT 73:00


Mountain State by Bill Brown (20:00, 16mm, 2003) A brief history of the westward expansion of the United States as told by 25 roadside historical markers in the state of West Virginia. History is a ghost, and every historical marker tells a ghost story. Brown plays the tour guide, providing a droll narration and using cleverly composed shots to juxtapose highway rest stops and historic relics of America’s brutal existence, highlighting the sad ironies inherent in historical preservation. In the process, Brown reveals to the audience—through subtitles—his own dark feelings, including a quiet obsession with the nature of death and a need to wander alone in order to fulfill his connection to a place.

Chicago Detroit Split by Bill Brown and Thomas Comerford (10:00, unslit 8mm, 2005) In Chicago Detroit Split, Brown and Comerford find the common ground of shared street names in their respective cities, yet they employ the unslit 8mm format to juxtapose these like-named tracts of land–the juxtapositions allowing for chance encounters across time and space between these two midwestern cities.

The Other Side by Bill Brown (43:00, 16mm, 2006) A 2000-mile survey of the US/Mexico border in an age of homeland insecurity. A portrait of human geography, and a meditation on transit and transubstantiation. “Wry” – The Village Voice The Other Side attempts to document the physical landscape of the borderlands, and the human landscape of cross-border migration. As increasingly militant US immigration policies have sealed the traditional routes of migration from Mexico, illegal migrants have resorted to crossing the remote deserts of the Southwest. Every summer, scores of people die while attempting this transit. In response, activist groups from Tucson to San Diego have established a network of water stations: man-made oases of plastic water bottles scattered throughout the border zone. This film, in part, documents those efforts.