By Bill Daniel, 56 min. black and white, experimental/documentary
THIS SPECTACULAR TRAVEL ADVENTURE FAITHFULLY PHOTOGRAPHED IN REALISTIC BLACK AND WHITE FILM AT CONSIDERABLE RISK FROM SPEEDING FREIGHT TRAINS AND IN SECRET HOBO JUNGLES IN THE DOGGED PURSUIT OF THE IMPOSSIBLY CONVOLUTED STORY OF THE HERETOFORE UNTOLD HISTORY OF THE CENTURY-OLD FOLKLORIC PRACTICE OF HOBO AND RAILWORKER GRAFFITI AND THE ABSURD QUEST FOR THE TRUE IDENTITY OF RAILROADING’S GREATEST ARTIST WILL LIKELY AMUSE AND CONFOUND YOU IN ITS SINCERE ATTEMPT TO UNDERSTAND AND PRESERVE THIS ARTFORM.
Who is Bozo Texino? chronicles the search for the source of a ubiquitous and mythic rail graffiti– a simple sketch of a character with an infinity-shaped hat and the scrawled moniker, « Bozo Texino »– a drawing seen on railcars for over 80 years. Daniel’s gritty black and white film uncovers a secret society and it’s underground universe of hobo and railworker graffiti, and includes interviews with legendary boxcar artists, Coaltrain, Herby, Colossus of Roads, and The Rambler. Shooting over a 16-year period, Daniel rode freights across the West carrying a Super-8 sound camera and a 16mm Bolex. During his quest he discovered the roots of a folkloric tradition that has gone mostly unnoticed for a century. Taking inspiration from Beat artists Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac, the film functions as both a sub-cultural documentary and a stylized fable on wanderlust and outsider identity.
« I was drawn to the subject by the universal graffiti impulse and the classic, corny notion of freight train blues escape. » _ Bill Daniel
« Cinematographic song of praise to the self-imposed life of a hobo. Using a 16mm and a Super8 camera, Bill Daniel collected images of the hobo subculture over a period of about 15 years. His years of roaming in goods trains brought him into contact with countless legendary hobos. Daniel links their stories and visions of life to their « tags », the signs they left on trains long before graffiti was any kind of a hype. The film focuses on the quest for the eminent Bozo Texino, whose tag decorated trains all over the country for 80 years. In beautiful black & white, to the rhythm of train wheels and country music, Daniel portrays passionate people who have turned away from the establishment and it’s rules. » _ from the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
» A hypnotic, rail-rattling tone poem of subversive wayfarer wisdom– as revealed through the witty, artfull, unexpected delights of railroad graffiti. » _ Sacramento News and Review
« Bill Daniel’s homegrown epic is as kinetic and raggedly beautiful as the trains he hopped to make it. Using the search for the origin of a near mythical example of railroad graffiti as a point of departure, Bill made a film about freedom as literal passage across the land. Corporations brand things to say they own them, but there are ways in which humans have marked things to say they can’t be owned. » _ Jem Cohen
« A gloriously rough-edged elegy for an America that is being swept away before our eyes.
Daniel’s film manages a near-perfect union of radical form and radical content, in less than an hour manages to say more about life, art, America and the simple joy of filmmaking than most directors manage in decades. » _ Neil Young’s Film Lounge