Bill Morrison

Bill Morrison

Director Bill Morrison was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1965, and currently lives in New York. He attended Cooper Union, where he studied painting and animation. After college, he worked with New York's Ridge Theater, making short film backdrops for their avant-garde productions. This work has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie.

Morrison's film and multimedia art has been screened at festivals, museums and concert halls worldwide, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Tate Modern, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The Museum of Modern Art has acquired eight of his titles for their permanent collection. Morrison has been commissioned to create films for numerous composers, including John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Gavin Bryars, Dave Douglas, Richard Einhorn, Bill Frisell, Michael Gordon, Henryk Gorecki, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, David Lang, Harry Partch, Steve Reich and Julia Wolfe. Morrison has received the Alpert Award, as well as fellowships from Creative Capital, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the NEA.

Decasia (2002), his feature-length collaboration with composer Michael Gordon, was described by The Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman as "the most widely acclaimed American avant-garde film of the fin-de-siècle", and by Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris as "a definitive work of art, and a new kind of documentary." Writing in The New York Times Magazine, Lawrence Weschler wrote that watching the film, "I found myself completely absorbed, transfixed, a pillow of air lodged in my stilled, open mouth."

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Bill Morrison
  • Beyond Zero: 1914-1918

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2014 • 40 minutes

    A prismatic and cinematic a message in a bottle from a century ago and accompanied by a magnificent score by Aleksandra Vrebalov performed by the Kronos Quartet, BEYOND ZERO: 1914-1918 is a powerful record of wartime past. Out on the sa...

  • City Walk

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2003 • 6 minutes

    The subject of Bill Morrison’s CITY WALK is the urban landscape and the movement within it. Utilising high contrast black and white footage, Morrison records busy urban life with a camera situated in a moving vehicle. The often-blurred, ...

  • Dawson City: Frozen Time

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2017 • 120 minutes

    This meditation on cinema’s past from Decasia director Bill Morrison pieces together the bizarre true history of a long-lost collection of 533 nitrate film prints from the early 1900s. Located just south of the Arctic Circle, Dawson Ci...

  • Decasia

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2002 • 67 minutes

    Often compared to Stan Brakhage, Bill Morrison created DECASIA entirely with decaying, old found footage, melded to the music of Bang on a Can's Michael Gordon, performed by the 55 piece basel sinfonietta. The result is a delirium of de...

  • The Film of Her

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 1996 • 12 minutes

    "Morrison's THE FILM OF HER is based on the story of a Library of Congress clerk who saved a vaultful of paper reels, documenting the earliest days of cinema, from the incinerator. A gorgeous tribute to the art form's origins, this 12-m...

  • The Great Flood

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2013 • 80 minutes

    The Mississippi River Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in American history. In the spring of 1927, the river broke out of its earthen embankments in 145 places and inundated 27,000 square miles. Part of its legacy was ...

  • Just Ancient Loops

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2012 • 26 minutes

    A short film based on research by Walter Murch, relating orbits to harmonics.

  • Light is Calling

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2004 • 8 minutes

    "In Light Is Calling, a deteriorating scene from James Young's The Bells (1926) was optically reprinted and edited to Michael Gordon's seven-minute composition. The aesthetic of Morrison's film is inexorably intertwined with many of Mich...

  • The Mesmerist

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2003 • 16 minutes

    The film is a re-edit of a deteriorated nitrate print of "The Bells" (1926), starring Lionel Barrymore and Boris Karloff.

    Bill Frisell, guitar; Tony Scherr, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums.

  • The Miners' Hymns

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2011 • 52 minutes

    The ill-fated coal mining communities in North East England are the subject of this inspired documentary by multi-media artist Bill Morrison. Their story is told entirely without words, yet the film is far from silent: it features a rem...

  • Outerborough

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2005 • 9 minutes

    In 1899, a photographer at American Mutoscope & Biograph mounted his camera on the front of a trolley traveling over the Brooklyn Bridge. The three 90-foot rolls he created were edited to together to complete the journey from Manhattan t...

  • Porch

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2005 • 9 minutes

    A short film produced as part of the evening-length program "Shelter".

  • Re-Awakenings

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • With Oliver Sacks • 2013 • 18 minutes

    Original Super 8 footage shot by Dr. Oliver Sacks of his patients at Beth Abraham Hospital, Bronx, NY. Made famous by the movie Awakenings, starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro, Sacks administered the drug L-Dop...

  • Release

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2010 • 13 minutes

    On March 17, 1930, a crowd assembled outside Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary in hopes of witnessing Al Capone's release from prison. (He in fact had already been released the night before.) 

    Filmmaker Bill Morrison and compos...

  • Spark of Being

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2010 • 67 minutes

    An adaptation of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" using found film footage, with an original soundtrack by Dave Douglas, performed by Keystone. It explores the thematic interchangeability of three of the novel’s characters: the Captain, th...

  • Who By Water

    Directed by Bill Morrison • Documentary • 2007 • 18 minutes

    Inspired by the Jewish Rosh Hashanah prayer, “Who shall live, who shall die… who by water, who by fire,” this short film deals with that which has been preordained—a future that will unfold before us, much like the faces of passengers o...

  • Bill Morrison Interviews Lawrence Weschler

    Exclusive to OVID, Bill Morrison interviews Dr. Oliver Sacks' biographer, Lawrence Weschler, over video chat.