Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
by Jeffrey Wolf, USA 2021, 76'
SCREENPLAY: Fred Barron   MUSIC: David Mansfield
PHOTOGRAPHY: Henry Adebonojo   PRODUCERS: Jeffrey Wolf, Daphne McWilliams, Jeany Nisenholz-Wolf, Fred Barron
EDITING: Keith Reamer A.C.E.   EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Sam Pollard
 SOUND: J.T. Takagi, Eliott Taylor   LANGUAGE: vo: English; sub: Italian

Schermo dell'Arte - Archivio Film    Presented at the 14th edition of Lo schermo dell'arte, 2021

African-American emancipation and art meet in Jeffrey Wolf’s film, dedicated to self-taught artist Bill Traylor. Born in 1853 in Alabama, where his family lived in slavery, Traylor spent much of his life working as a farmhand. He moved to Montgomery when he was around 80, soon found himself homeless and began to paint, becoming a well-known character among the inhabitants. In his drawings, two-dimensional figures of dogs, horses and strange animals take shape in vivid colors, along with silhouettes of people, who depict his everyday life and the world around him. Through works imbued with a vitality typical of tradition and popular songs, Traylor was able to transfer the oral history of his community into images. In the film, the vibrant rhythm of the Afro-American dances that spill from his works are rendered into tap-dance steps by performer Jason Samuels Smiths in an almost ecstatic movement. Scholars, artists, family members and archive materials shed light on his still little-known biography. Chasing Ghosts reconstructs the historical and social framework of the artist who is the protagonist of the recently acclaimed exhibition Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor, held in 2019 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Jeffrey Wolf works as a director, journalist and photographer. He made the award-winning documentary James Castle: Portrait of an Artist. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts is his second feature film. He has also made several short films about artists James ‘Son Ford’ Thomas, Martin Ramirez, Elijah Pierce and Gregory Van Maanen.

Selected Filmography
2009 Sonabai: Another Way of Seeing, 2008 James Castle: Portrait of an Artist 1988-1990 Monsters



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