Scene from the film O'er the Land
Scene from the film O'er the Land
Scene from the film O'er the Land
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O'er the Land

  • United States
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A meditation on the milieu of elevated threat addressing national identity, gun culture, wilderness, consumption, patriotism and the possibility of personal transcendence. Of particular interest are the ways Americans have come to understand freedom and the increasingly technological reiterations of manifest destiny.

While channeling our national psyche, the film is interrupted by the story of Col. William Rankin who in 1959, was forced to eject from his F8U fighter jet at 48,000 feet without a pressure suit, only to get trapped for 45 minutes in the up and down drafts of a massive thunderstorm. Remarkably, he survived. Rankin's story represents a non-material, metaphysical kind of freedom. He was vomited up by his own jet, that American icon of progress and strength, but violent purging does not necessarily lead to reassessment or redirection.

This film is concerned with the sudden, simple, thorough ways that events can separate us from the system of things, and place us in a kind of limbo. Like when we fall. Or cross a border. Or get shot. Or saved. The film forces together culturally acceptable icons of heroic national tradition with the suggestion of unacceptable historical consequences, so that seemingly benign locations become zones of moral angst.


  • Original Title
    O'er the Land
  • Direction
  • Screenplay
    Deborah Stratman
  • Cinematography
    Deborah Stratman
  • Editing
    Deborah Stratman
  • Music
    Maryane Amacher, Kevin Drumm, Steve Rowell, Lustmord
  • Sound
    Deborah Stratman
  • Runtime
    52 min (46-90 min.)
  • Year
  • Country
    • United States
  • Format
    • Colour
  • Production
  • Festivals
    • Sundance Film Festival, 2009
    • Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2009
  • Awards
    • L’Alternativa International Film Festival, Barcelona: Best Documentary Feature
    • CPH:DOX International Documentary Film Festival, Copenhagen: New Vision Award
    • Cinema Eye Honors: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography Nominee
    • Ann Arbor Film Festival: Ken Burns Award for Best of Festival
    • Iowa City International Documentary Film Festival: Best in Festival
    • Images Festival, Toronto: Best International Film is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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