Shelly Silver b. 1957
The Houses That Are Left (1991)
The Houses That Are Left
1991, 52 min, b&w and color, sound

The Houses That Are Left is a story of mortality, friendship, revenge, murder and the supernatural, as two friends come together to try to figure out how to live, while being besieged by malignant messages from the dead. While the living are rendered passive by their fear that something bad could happen to them, the dead, who no long can have anything happen to them at all, strive to regain their ability to act through the only tool available to them, their television.

Juxtaposing black-and -white film with color video, and fusing narrative elements of drama, comedy and documentary, Silver provides a structure that allows for a plurality of voices to speak: two women who were childhood friends, people on the street who are interviewed for "market research," and the observations of dead people who watch the living on television monitors. Truth and fiction are blurred as the dead communicate with the living and real people are interviewed by fictional characters.

"Silver is one of the foremost figures in a younger generation of American videomakers coming to prominence with a series of works which combine visual and formal experimentation with a provocative narrative punch. The Houses That Are Left rates as her most ambitious project to date, and also presents one of the most intriguing independent tapes to come out of the United States in the last few years. Structured as a sort of post-modern mystery story (that encompasses everything from murder to market research, from sexuality to the supernatural), it constructs a shifting narrative framework in which not only its characters but also the viewer is constantly having to sift out what is fiction from what is truth...to finally arrive at its powerful and perceptive dissection of modern America: anxious, narcissistic, consumed by media images." Steven Bode, London Film Festival

written, directed, edited by
Shelly Silver

director of photography
John Kraus

interview photography
Kim Higgins

music composed/performed by
Roy Nathanson, Curtis Fowlkes, E.J. Rodriguez

with Judy Blazer, Maggie Low, Kate Valk , Quinn Raymond, Bill Raymond, Doug Barron, Larry Maxwell, Sam Coppola, Isa Thomas

art director
Jacqui Arnot

production manager
Adam Brightman, Jennifer Fong
funded in part by
The New York State Council on the Arts
The Checkerboard Foundation
The National Endowment for the Arts
New Television