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Directed by James Marsh

United States, United Kingdom 1999 76 mins. In English

A near-perfect adaptation of Michael Lesy’s 1973 book that retains the starkness, gothic tone, and voyeuristic perspective of its source material while expanding what one expects of documentary form. Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Marsh’s (Man on Wire) multi-chaptered take on the lives and voluminous deaths of the residents of Black River Falls, Wisconsin during the last decade of the 19th century plays out like a macabre tone poem. This elgiac non-fictional composition includes narration by Ian Holm and masterful 16mm black-and-white cinematography by Egil Bryland (In Bruges). “I wanted to convey in film the real pathos contained in a four-line newspaper report that simultaneously records and dismisses the end of someone’s life.” – James Marsh

“Those who pine for the presumed simpler life and upright morals of yesteryear’s small-town Midwest have a rude, albeit wry, awakening in store with Wisconsin Death Trip.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

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.