Andre Silva shows us the reverence within nature with his experimental short Black River. Showcasing a river that houses the oldest trees east of the Rocky Mountains, it highlights the power and haunting beauty of nature. Read below to get more information on the filmmaker from Wilmington, North Carolina.
What is your connection to the South?
I have lived in Wilmington, NC since 2006.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
I kept hearing from people about the Black River. You could only explore it by boat, lots of snakes and a few alligators – that kind of thing. It took on this mythological tone. One area of the river in particular, the Three Sisters Swamp, is reported to have the oldest trees east of the Rocky Mountains – ranging in age from 700 – 1600 years old.
As a separate side to this story, I had some Kodak hi-contrast black and white film stock (which had for years generated a cult-following among experimental filmmakers). Unfortunately, the stock was discontinued a few years back but I still had a couple of rolls. I feel this stock, especially when hand-processed, is the perfect medium to document the river, because the stock, like the river at the end of winter, is gritty and primitive. Both the river and the film also have the distinction of representing the extinction of something. The Black River is one of the few truly natural areas left in eastern North Carolina.
Finally, I never meant this to be a stand alone film. I was going to use the Black River footage as part of a larger film that has nothing to do with the Black River, directly. This larger film will be part of a trilogy that deals with transhumanism, artificial intelligence and reality as a simulation – so about as far as possible from what my film “Black River” is.
How did you start making films?
One of the assignments in my high school art class (27 years ago) was to make frame by frame drawings on a clear 35mm filmstrip for filmstrip projector (the kind where you advance to the next frame when you here the “beep”) and develop a soundtrack on cassette tape. I think that’s when I decided I wanted to make films.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
Nothing that I can talk about without incriminating myself. I did see an alligator three feet away from me and I was so out of it on the way back after kayaking for 6-hours that I hallucinated that some type of long-necked bird gliding across the river in front of me was really a cobra – and that scared the shit out of me.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
Everything! I’m looking forward to the screenings but I’m also really excited about all the other events you have going on. You don’t see those kinds of events happening at many festivals.
I attended a few years back when I had another film playing but that trip was cut short/dampened by the fact that I totaled my rental car as I got into Columbia an hour before my screening. The other guy was driving a shitty 1995 Saturn so I think he was happy that my insurance helped him get a new car. I see this time around as an opportunity to finally be able to enjoy the festival!
Why should someone see your film?
It’s only 4 minutes. Why not?
And the screening block “Everybody Dies,”seems applicable to everyone.