Boulder-based filmmaker Phil Solomon awarded USA grant after finishing American Falls
Phil Solomon A scene from "Last Days In a Lonely Place," part of Solomon's In Memoriam.
Brakhage passed away in March 2003 after a drawn-out battle with cancer, and Solomon was devastated.
But he now says that the bereavement, much like their relationship, led him to explore unexpected depths. And today, a decade later, Solomon is honoring his late friend by writing a book entitled A Snail's Trail in the Moonlight: Conversations with Brakhage.
Solomon plans to transcribe over 120 hours of videotape from Brakhage's Sunday salons, where once a week he and a group of film lovers would view films from Brakhage's personal collection and engage in lively discussions about them. In addition, Solomon says he's sifting through "nine years' worth of soliloquies" Brakhage left on his answering machines during their time together.
And Solomon's artistic tributes to lost companions don't stop there. In the early part of the last decade, Solomon stumbled upon the video-game series Grand Theft Auto while teaching a CU postmodernism class. What he discovered was exactly what had captivated millions of teenage boys for years: a world of seemingly endless possibilities.
As a free-roaming mafia hitman equipped with guns and a plethora of civilian throngs and policemen to potentially destroy, your average Grand Theft Auto gamer tends to exercise (or abuse) his virtual Second Amendment rights. But not Solomon. Instead of exploiting cheats to obtain an arsenal of fully automatic firearms, he used them to "make surreal tableaus" that often included changing daily weather patterns. He was enthralled by the scenery -- the lakes, hills, abandoned buildings and anywhere else he could explore in peace. "I just looked around," Solomon says. "I wasn't interested in killing. If you just don't kill and stop to smell the roses, it's really quite beautiful in there."
Solomon worked on several different stages of the machinima-based series that incorporated imagery from Grand Theft Auto before finally completing a comprehensive piece in 2009 titled In Memoriam, which Solomon says included "very sad and lonely prayers in dedication to the memory of my friend."