The Great Northwest

70 minutes / HD / 2012

An experimental documentary based on the re-creation of a 3,200 mile road-trip made in 1958 by four Seattle women who thoroughly documented their journey in an elaborate scrapbook…

Fifty years later, Portland filmmaker Matt McCormick found that scrapbook in a thrift store, and in 2010 set out on the road, following their route as precisely as possible and searching out every stop in which the ladies had documented.

In 1958, Bev, Berta, Sissie and Clarice packed into a Plymouth and hit the road.  Visiting tourist attractions and national parks in Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, they explored the Pacific Northwest just months before the construction of dams and the Interstate Highway System would drastically change the landscape.  Along the way they took photographs, kept notes, and collected menus, brochures, post-cards and receipts, all of which the organized into a crafty scrapbook.

Patiently shot with an observational and voyeuristic approach, The Great Northwest is a lyrical time-capsule that explores the fragility of history while documenting the present.  Using only location sound recordings and void of any narration or music, the film paints a portrait of the region while exploring how the visual landscape of the region has changed over the past 50 years.  While documenting transformations in culture, architecture, and land-use, the film explores the region’s relationship to natural resources, looks at the history of roads, and considers the impact of tourism on the history and development of the American West.

The Great Northwest has shown at venues including The Museum of Modern Art, The Rotterdam International Film Festival, and the Tacoma Art Museum.  The piece can be presented theatrically or as a single-channel video installation in gallery or museum type settings.   Photographs and other ephemera from the project are also available for exhibition and can be viewed in the photography section of this website.

The Great Northwest funded in part by a 2010 Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant and the 2011 Oregon Art Commission Media Arts Fellowship.

Director: Matt McCormick

70 minutes, HD, 2012

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