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SHORT FOCUS 2018 – JURY PRIZE: XCTRY [Bill Brown, USA, 2018]

On the road

Bill Brown’s paean to the romance of the road is a wonderfully constructed visual journal and an artful document that elegantly captures a true sense of restlessness and loneliness. Shot on 16mm film, XCTRY is mostly presented as a moving triptych, with each separate image flickering between shots of expansive Midwestern vistas, neon hotel signs, storefronts and bridge crossings. Accompanied with subtitled journalistic musings and overdubbed radio broadcasts, the film works as a poetic experiment, as much an exploration of the self as of the rich and rugged American landscape.

Except for one moment in this 6-minute short, the images are seen from the perspective of the protagonist, as we peer through the windscreen and windows of a moving car. Early on, we gain some insight into the character’s nomadic preoccupations. “I was born in Ohio, but I told everyone in my 3rd grade class that I was born in England”. He interrogates this further, “England was far away and sophisticated, but what was Ohio? It was the Buckeye State. I had no idea what a buckeye was, but I didn’t like the sound of it”.

XCTRY is a profound and contemplative video experiment from someone who appears to be constantly searching for meaning, finding solace and comfort in the idea that nowhere and everywhere is home. This really is an astonishing short film, quiet and understated in its delivery, making for a thought-provoking work of moving art that warrants repeat viewing, and was a deserving winner of the Jury Prize at Short Focus Film Festival 2018.


'XCTRY' was part of the official selection and winner of the Jury Prize at Short Focus Film Festival 2018.

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