The Colorado, a documentary screening as part of this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, uses science, artistic images and music to tell the story of an endangered watershed.
The 5-million-year-old river has been a source of life since prehistoric settlements, through European exploration and to the present day. Roughly the size of France, the Colorado River delta supports nearly 40 million people, half a dozen major cities and a massive agricultural industry. The Colorado is among the world’s most heavily developed river systems, with 15 dams, including the Hoover Dam.
The film’s director, Murat Eyubolgu, is a multi-media artist from Turkey who currently lives in New York City. Previously, he directed Claude Levi-Strauss: Return to the Amazon, a retracing of the steps of the pioneering French anthropologist. Eyuboglu has also directed videos for Asthmatic Kitty Records, founded by indie wunderkind Sufjan Stevens.
Eyubolgu’s goal is to use art to express sociological and ecological perspectives. “Bringing art and research onto the same platform, this project’s aspiration is to instill the knowledge, inspire the love, and encourage acts on the region’s behalf,” Eyubolgu says.
The Colorado uses breathtaking imagery, brief voiceovers and vocal tracks from experimental Grammy nominees Roomful of Teeth. It features the work of five composers, including Shara Nova, formerly Shara Worden, founder of chamber music pop band My Brightest Diamond.
“My guiding principle as a cinematographer has been to make an effort to approach these diverse landscapes the way a musician approaches the score in his or her effort to communicate what’s there, rather than imposing a personal style or vision,” he says.
The April 2 screening at Union South is the culmination of the UW-Madison Center for the Humanities’ “Terra Incognita Art Series: Artists Exploring our New Ecological Epoch,” which kicked off in October. This epoch is known as the Anthropocene. Translation: Humans are now the dominant geological and climatic influence on the planet.
Eyubolgu says he hopes The Colorado will introduce audiences to the area and inspire ecological consciousness: “Caring for the land, water, but also the peoples of a region, requires knowledge, love and perseverance.”
The Colorado will screen at 2 p.m. on April 2 at Union South Marquee followed by a Q&A with Eyboglu and composer William Brittelle.