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Directed by Bill Morrison

United States 2012 80 mins.

THE GREAT FLOOD is a film-music collaboration inspired by the catastrophic Mississippi River Flood of 1927 and the ensuing transformation of American society. A pivotal event that set off massive migration, the flood fueled the evolution of acoustic blues to electric blues bands that thrived in cities like Chicago and Detroit, which in turn became the wellspring for R&B and rock, as well as developing jazz styles. Using minimal text and no spoken dialogue, Morrison weaves incredible archival footage with composer/guitarist Bill Frisell’s evocative score to create a powerful portrait of a seminal moment in American history. As the incredible footage unfolds, some pristine and some decayed, the images from this milestone tragedy narrate a haunting, dreamlike, and unique cinematic experience. 

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.