It sounds like the scenario for a Jewish remake of “The Revenant,” and there are more than a few passing similarities, but the spiritual and cross-cultural odyssey involved is more benign and more fruitful, and the result, while not as portentous as that of the Oscar-nominated adventure, is no less far-reaching in its implications. Rivo tells the story briskly, with immeasurable assistance from Robert Shlaer, a modern-day practitioner of the daguerreotype who has been recreating Carvalho’s trajectory.
In week two of the NY Jewish Film Festival, activism and justice seeking is a theme that binds by George Robinson:
Solomon Nunes Carvalho was an unlikely candidate for activism or adventuring, but he enthusiastically took on both in pursuit of art. “Carvalho’s Journey,” directed by Steve Rivo, is a spirited retelling of the all-but-forgotten story of the Baltimore-based painter and daguerreotypist, a Sephardic Jew who was probably the first professional photographer of his faith, and the man who documented Colonel John Fremont’s quixotic fifth expedition across the American West in 1853. Rivo cleverly opens his film in the middle of Carvalho’s story, with his decidedly urban protagonist agreeing to go into the wilderness with Fremont for a one-of-a-kind journey. The well-to-do observant Jew has never even saddled a horse, let alone trekked through the deserts and mountains awaiting him.