Motels, cactuses, and white-picket fences – all symbols of Americana.
But how did they seep into our lives and so romanticise the ‘American dream’?
Film buff Catherine Norton’s new video is a fascinating exploration of the culture of ‘Road-Trip America’ – and the only UK film selected for the video-essay category of Filmadrid – the leading European media festival.
The BA Film Studies final-year student won the entry with ‘Americana on the Road to Paris, Texas’, a commentary on the 1984 classic indie flick directed by Wim Wenders about a “man who once ran away from everything and is now coming to terms with himself.”
Her 11-minute short is just one of seven video essays going online this week (7 -13 June) and screened live at the popular La Casa Encendida in the Spanish capital.
The Belfast film-maker said: “Paris, Texas is what I would consider to be my favourite film, a truly perfect piece of media in my eyes. I wanted to explore the culture of America in the 80s, how the characters’ experiences relate to the present day and how the Americana style has been romanticised to the point where it has become the image of ‘the American Dream’.
For her short, Catherine interviewed to other film-makers, including John T. Davis about the enduring appeal and influence of the American road movies.
She says to achieve international visibility for her work is fantastic: “To say I was over the moon would be an understatement, I was so proud to see what I had achieved and it has really boosted my confidence in looking at what more I could achieve in the future.”
Catherine has written film reviews for The Tab and helped edit and produce comedic skits, notably for US actor-comic Alex Dobrenkz.
Pesaro Film Festival
Dr Liz Greene, a reader in the Screen School and Catherine’s supervisor, said: “I am delighted to see Catherine’s audiovisual essay was selected by the prestigious festival Filmadrid and MUBI and will be screened globally this week. I have been teaching the audiovisual essay at the university for the last three years and students have had international successes at Pesaro Film Festival each year.”