V’18: OCTOBER 25 – NOVEMBER 8, 2018

CALIFORNIA COMPANY TOWN

V' 11

CALIFORNIA COMPANY TOWN

Lee Anne Schmitt
USA, 2008
Documentaries, 76min, OF

CALIFORNIA COMPANY TOWN

Lee Anne Schmitt
USA, 2008
Documentaries, 76min, OF

Screenplay: 
Lee Anne Schmitt
Sound: 
Ryan Philippi
Camera: 
Lee Anne Schmitt
Editor: 
Lee Anne Schmitt

Production: 
Lee Anne Schmitt
World Sales: 
Lee Anne Schmitt
Format: 
16 mm
Color

Filmed over a five-year period, Lee Anne Schmitt’s visually ravishing document of the devastation and desolation of California’s abandoned industrial towns is a wholly unique meditation on natural and man-made environments, at once languid and heartbreaking. Set against California’s beautifully diverse yet unforgiving terrain, California Company Town unearthes the blight of industry and the failure of utopian naiveté among landscapes that appear ominously disinterested in human triumphs and tragedies. From the fogs of Scotia, a company lumber town behind northern California’s “redwood curtain”, to the parched horizons of the Salton Sea and the blandness of Silicon Valley, Schmitt – and viewers – witness bleak worlds rarely seen by Bay Area denizens or the urbanites of Los Angeles. Images of sweeping horizons and vacant factories are interspersed with poignant commentary, sparsely accompanied by archival sound recordings and footage. The voices of Ronald Reagan and César Chávez provide alternately ironic and poignant commentary on images of giant toppling redwoods and the stoic faces of Italian workers, striking laborers, captains of industry and Japanese-Americans interred at Manzanar. Schmitt’s carefully assembled juxtapositions reveal forgotten towns anew, their current states of desolation and decrepitude now haunted by the past and haunting in their silence. In this young and fragile experiment called America, plunderers of nature and culture stand condemned of far-reaching abuses of the once-authentic promise of progress. (Sean F. Diggins)

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