Will Sheff • 2014 • USA • An oneiric portrait of fleeting innocence in small town American.
Rural New Hampshire, the 1980s. Two young boys pass their days together—going to school, the movies, playing in the woods. Images, splinters of their collective imagination, blend together, delicate as the wisps of memory. Over the course of a year, one of the boys drifts from the other, finding other friends. The other boy mourns his absence, until that absence is made permanent—the boy disappears from the town, never to be heard from again.
From the lead singer and songwriter of Okkervil River, Down Down the Deep River is an oneiric portrait of fleeting innocence in small town American. Will Sheff's directorial debut premiered at the Austin Music Video Festival and the Rural Route Film Fest at the Museum of the Moving Image.
In November 2014, Chinese-American police officer Peter Liang was dispatched to a Brooklyn community housing building. Performing a vertical patrol in a darkened stairwell, he accidentally shot and killed Akai “Bliss” Gurley, a young father. Yet another police killing of an unarmed black man set off a wave of Black Lives Matter protests; yet Liang’s conviction resulted in counter-protests among New York’s Chinese community, incensed by the hypocrisy that the first NYPD officer to be charged in 14 years was also a person of color.
Offering a timely and topical cross-section of a singular tragedy in Brooklyn, Down a Dark Stairwell incisively explores two communities pulled asunder by the divisive politics of police violence that should unite them. Ursula Liang’s second film premiered at Vancouver, True/False, and Ashland Independent Film Festival, where it won Best Documentary Feature.