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Directed by Steve Rivo

United States 85 mins.

Steve Rivo’s fascinating 19th-century adventure story documents the extraordinary career of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815–1897) and his life as a photographer, artist, and pioneer explorer in the American West. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Carvalho was a middle-class portrait painter and an observant Sephardic Jew who had never ridden a horse, much less been in the wilderness. That changed in 1853 when he joined the famed explorer John C. Frémont on his Fifth Westward Expedition, a 2,400-mile journey from New York City to California. Carvalho’s journal entries provide a dramatic first-person account of his journey, including near-death experiences, encounters with Native Americans, and a surprising meeting with Mormon leader Brigham Young. Maintaining devotion to his family and Jewish faith as he captured stunning images of epic landscapes, his lasting images became a lens through which the world experienced the American West. 

Genres: Documentary

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.