The Houses That Are Left
1991, 51 min
(also 28 minute broadcast version, 1990 & The Houses That Are Left (trailer) 1989, see below)

Texts | Images | Video

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 longer 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 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: 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 party by: 
The New York State Council on the Arts
The Checkerboard Foundation
The National Endowment for the Arts
New Television

selected screenings
The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Nagoya Art Museum, Japan
Centre For Contemporary Art, Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw, Poland
Cologne Kunstverein, Germany
Anthology Film Archives, NY
ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany
Video Art After Video Art, Goethe Memorial Museum, Tokyo, Japan
St. Gervais Video Festival, Geneva, Switzerland
The Exploding Valentine, Theater Am Turm, Frankfurt, Germany
Channels for A Changing TV, Long Beach Museum of Art, CA
The London Film Festival
The Self & American Video Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland
Video Viewpoints, Babylon Cinema, Berlin, Germany
At the Edge of the World, Film & Video Umbrella (travelling)

selected broadcasts
New Television, WGBH/Boston, WNET/New York; Other Cinema, Channel 2, Poland; RTE Television, Ireland

Best Narrative Film, Atlanta Film & Video Festival
Best Narrative, Australia International Video Festival