The Colorado Project-Roomful of Teeth in collaboration with VisionIntoArt and New Amsterdam
THE COLORADO is a purely visual documentary accompanied by original music, exploring water, land and survival in the Colorado River Basin. The project is conceived as equal parts, documentary film, live performance event, and an educational tool for classrooms.
For the first phase of filming THE COLORADO, I traveled with my filmmaker friend Sylvestre Campe and the great paramotor pilot Dean Eldridge. Thanks to our collaboration, we were able to obtain some stunning aerials of Canyonlands Utah, and the Glen Canyon Dam area in northern Arizona.
THE COLORADO consists of ten episodes, providing windows onto the history of the region through the perspectives of actual and imaginary characters.
An Indian story-teller mixing legend with geology, a Jesuit padre crossing the Colorado River to settle the argument whether or not California is an island, an out of work acrobat working as a high-scaler at Hoover Dam, and an undocumented migrant worker working in the fertile fields irrigated by the Colorado River are among the cast of characters.
The Colorado River is an aquatic thread to this seemingly disconnected sequence of episodes, both across time and space.
The collaborative team of THE COLORADO includes John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, Paola Prestini, Sarah Kirkland Snider and Shara Worden as composers; Sylvestre Campe, David Sarno, and myself as filmmakers; Mustafa Ziyalan as lyricist, and the historian and conservationist William deBuys as the general advisor of the project. His book Salt Dreams: Land and Water in low-down California is one of the main inspirations of this project.
At it’s completion, THE COLORADO will stand alone as a documentary film intended for broadcasting and theatrical release. There will also be a live versions of THE COLORADO, where the film component will be integral to the concert performances.
The project will also be accompanied by a study guide, designed for secondary and higher education. Once exposed to a holistic history of the Colorado River Basin, students will be guided to develop their own projects, exploring different regions. My former colleague from Columbia University, Michael Preston, is now the Director of Blended Learning at New York City Department of Education. He is the education advisor of this project.
The mission of THE COLORADO is to create a cross-roads between art, ecology and regional history, while sensitizing audiences to pressing issues of our times.