Cars Will Make You Free 2:30 16mm 1997

A documentary of sorts about car culture and its discontents.

I made this film in Film Production I at the University of Iowa. The 16mm cameras we used, the Bolex and the Arri-S, didn’t allow for synchronous sound recording, so I had to come up with a film without dialogue. I was thinking a lot about cars at that time, because I was writing a dissertation about American road movies and road novels. The “freedom of the open road” mythology of novels and films seemed at serious odds with the reality of cars…so much responsibility and so many rules! I wanted a simple and playful way to get this idea across, one that would invite the audience to re-view what they see and experience every day. I sometimes think of this movie as the two-and-a-half minute version of my dissertation. (Side note: these days, my dissertation lives a quiet reclusive life in the University of Iowa library, while Cars Will Make You Free lives an exciting public life on the World Wide Web! Siblings can be so different.)

Thanks to Late Model Auto Parts in Kansas City for allowing me on their lot to take this photo.