Drawing extensively on the title character’s bestselling 1857 memoir, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West, Steve Rivo’s film is a true-life story of a groundbreaking journey into the still-new American West of the mid-19th century. Solomon Nunes Carvalho was a respected photographer and portrait painter who signed on to a Western journey with explorer John Fremont’s Fifth Westward Expedition, traveling from New York to California. Whether or not they get there, I won’t spoil for you.
Archives for January 2017
Born in Boston, an alumnus of Brookline High, Steve Rivo grew up in a film-loving family. He was exposed at an early age to many of the great films, but he always had a warm spot for Robert Aldrich’s “The Frisco Kid” (1979), in which Gene Wilder plays a rabbi assigned to a synagogue in San Francisco in 1850. To get there, the rabbi must cross the Rockies on horseback with a varmint played by Harrison Ford.
Today, Rivo makes his own movies. He’s founder and owner of Down Low Pictures, an independent documentary production company based in Brooklyn. When he was offered a project about the painter and daguerreotypist Solomon Carvalho, a Sephardic Jew from Charleston, South Carolina, who accompanied legendary explorer John Fremont on his 1853 Fifth Western Expedition, the story’s resemblance to “The Frisco Kid” helped win him over.
I recently saw an inspiring documentary film title “Carvalho’s Journey” here in St. Louis at the Jewish Film Festival.
In 1853, travelling with explorer John Fremont’s Fifth Westward Expedition, Carvalho became one of the first photographers to document the sweeping vistas and treacherous terrain of the far American West.
The 2016 Teaneck International Film Festival will include the documentary, “Carvalho’s Journey,” which made its world premiere at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival in 2015. A real life 19th century American western adventure story, Carvalho’s Journey, directed by award-winning filmmaker Steve Rivo, introduces audiences to Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, S.C., and his life as a groundbreaking explorer and artist.
This documentary focuses on artist-daguerreotypist Solomon Nunes Carvalho, whose photography chronicled the expansion of the American West.
A few of Carvalho’s surviving prints of that trailblazing expedition and several of his acclaimed paintings are among the little-known gems in “By Dawn’s Early Light: Jewish Contributions to American Culture From the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War,” an eye-opening exhibit at the Princeton University Art Museum on display now through June 12.