Phil Solomon (filmmaker)

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Phil Solomon
Philip Stewart Solomon

(1954-01-03)January 3, 1954
DiedApril 20, 2019(2019-04-20) (aged 65)
EducationBinghamton University Massachusetts College of Art
Known forExperimental film, Machinima

Philip Stewart Solomon (January 3, 1954 – April 20, 2019) was an American experimental filmmaker noted for his work with both film and video. In recent years, Solomon had earned acclaim for a series of films that incorporate machinima made using games from the Grand Theft Auto series.[1][2] His films are often described as haunting[2][3] and lyrical.[4]

Solomon was an associate of the influential American experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, with whom he taught film at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Solomon and Brakhage collaborated on three films. In a 1992 poll for the British film magazine Sight & Sound, Brakhage picked Solomon's Remains to Be Seen as one of the ten greatest films of all time.[5] The film had previously been selected as one of the top ten films of 1989 by the Village Voice.[6]

Solomon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1994.[7] In 2007, he was the recipient of the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Award from the University of Oklahoma.[8] In 2012 Solomon received the Knight Fellowship of the USA (United States Artists) Fellows program, alongside novelist Annie Proulx, sculptor Alison Saar, jazz musician Jack DeJohnette, dancer and choreographer Trisha Brown, and artist Theaster Gates.[9]

On April 10, 2010, Solomon's American Falls opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The six-projection video/sound installation received great acclaim before closing in July 2010. In conjunction with the Corcoran exhibition, Solomon's career as a filmmaker was explored in "Rhapsodies in Silver," a three-program survey at Washington's National Gallery of Art.

A re-edited, feature-length, single-projection version of American Falls was featured at the New York Film Festival's "Views from the Avant Garde" on October 1, 2010. The single projection version of the film condenses the original multi-projector format into a triptych, placing three independent (yet associative) images next to one another. In Fall 2012, Solomon screened a three-channel version of American Falls at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, as part of the exhibition "Film After Film."[10]

In the May/June 2010 Film Comment poll, The Top 50 Avant-Garde Filmmakers of the Decade, Phil Solomon placed at number 5, tied with his late colleague, Stan Brakhage.[11]


Originally from New York City, Solomon attended Binghamton University[12] and received an Masters of Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art. One of Solomon's instructors was the experimental filmmaker Ken Jacobs, who started his first class with a screening of Tony Conrad's film The Flicker. Solomon initially disliked the film, but the experience, followed by a screening of his future collaborator Stan Brakhage's Blue Moses, had a profound impact on his development as a filmmaker.[12] Another formative experience came in the form of a lecture by critic Fred Camper on Brakhage's Anticipation of the Night.[12]

Solomon began making films in 1975. Solomon has since destroyed some of his early works,[12] many of which were made in imitation of Brakhage.

Solomon had been teaching at the University of Colorado since 1991.

Solomon died on April 20, 2019 from complications following surgery at the age of 65.[13][14]


Solomon's films have been housed at the Academy Film Archive since 2005, and they have preserved several of his films, including "As If We," "Twilight Psalm I: The Lateness of the Hour," and "What's Out Tonight Is Lost."[15]


  • The Passage of the Bride (1979–1980)
  • Nocturne (1980)
  • What's Out Tonight Is Lost (1983)
  • The Secret Garden (1988)
  • Clepsydra (1992)
  • The Exquisite Hour (1989/1994)
  • Remains to Be Seen (1989/1994)
  • Elementary Phrases (w/ Stan Brakhage) (1994)
  • The Snowman (1995)
  • Concrescence (w/ Stan Brakhage) (1996)
  • Psalm I: "The Lateness of the Hour " (1999 – )
  • Psalm II: "Walking Distance " (1999)
  • Psalm III: "Night of the Meek " (2002)
  • Seasons... (w/ Stan Brakhage) (2002)
  • Crossroad (w/ Mark LaPore) (2005)
  • Rehearsals for Retirement (2007)
  • Last Days In a Lonely Place (2007)
  • Still Raining, Still Dreaming (2008)
  • American Falls (2000 –2012 )
  • The Emblazoned Apparitions (2013)
  • Psalm IV: "Valley of the Shadow" (2013)


  1. ^ Reprinted from Cinemascope #30: Phil Solomon Visits San Andreas and Escapes, Not Unscathed: Notes on Two Recent Works. Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Wexner Center for the Arts: Phil Solomon Archived February 12, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. (October 1, 2008). Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  3. ^ Phil Solomon at REDCAT
  4. ^ CNYPG: Phil Solomon. Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  5. ^ 25, 2009+22:49:13 Directors' Top Ten. Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  6. ^ Canyon Cinema: The Films of Phil Solomon Archived September 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Creative Capital: Philip S. Solomon Archived August 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ The Thatcher Hoffman Smith Award. Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  9. ^ "USA Fellows - United States Artist".
  10. ^ "Museum of the Moving Image - Exhibitions - Phil Solomon: American Falls".
  11. ^ "Calendar".
  12. ^ a b c d Cinemad: Interview with Phil Solomon. (November 18, 2005). Retrieved on January 6, 2012.
  13. ^ Genzlinger, Neil (May 2019). "Phil Solomon, Leading Experimental Filmmaker, is Dead at 65". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Harris, Kyle. "RIP: Phil Solomon, Experimental Filmmaker and CU Professor". Westword. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
  15. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.

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