Spurred by recent archeological digs in the California desert for traces of past Hollywood epics, A Distant Echo
revisits the ecology of the desert image through returning to the sites of modern day dunes in Guadalupe, Death Valley, Imperial County, and the Mojave Desert. Having once stood in for the landscapes of Ancient Egypt, these sites are revisited in 35mm by Londonbased filmmaker George Clark for the Canadian premiere of his feature debut.A Distant Echo
is an “adaptation” of Shadi Abdel Salam’s 1969 feature film, The Night of Counting the Years
, which was set in Egypt in 1881, prior to the British occupation. Salam’s film followed the narrative of an archeologist from Cairo with an ancient tribesman as they negotiated the values and morality of recovering cultural artifacts. Between scenes of the desert, we are shown Egypt through British Imperialism’s lens of discovery, notably through building up its own museums and libraries with their colonial inquisitions.
Featuring a male choral score by composer Tom Challenger that further extends A Distant Echo
to Clark’s upbringing in Yorkshire, where the male choral choir began at the height of Britain’s Industrial Revolution, the film transports the viewer into a speculative study on the history of iconic sites, sounds, images, and memory, and questions the veracity of our cultural lineages through image making.