Critic’s Pick & Film Festival Favorite!
–Wall Street Journal

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Watch the Trailer

Carvalho's Journey
Director/Producer/Writer: Steve Rivo
Narrator: Michael Stuhlbarg
USA, 2015, 85 minutes
Exhibition formats: DCP, Blu-ray, DVD


Short Synopsis

A real life 19th-century American western adventure about Charleston born Sephardic daguerreotypist Solomon Nunes Carvalho who became one of the first to photograph the Far West while traveling with Native Americans, Mormons, and mountain men as part of explorer John Fremont's 1853 Westward Expedition through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, and California. Narrated by Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire, Steve Jobs).

Critics Agree – Join the adventure. See Carvalho’s Journey

Wall Street Journal Video Review - watch

Nevada Public Radio KNPR Interview w/ Steve Rivo - listen

Interview with Steve Rivo
Boston Globe
“Love of Frisco Kid Inspired his Latest Project”

Interview with Steve Rivo
l'Arche (in French)
“Sur la route… un siècle avant”

“A great story…stunning visuals...a very rare treat.”
--Huffington Post

"Takes audiences on [a] journey."
--Chicago Reader

CRITICS PICK! The #1 film to see at New York Jewish Film Festival
--Time Out New York

Critic's Pick Best of Fest - "Excellent."
--Intermountain Jewish News (Denver)

“One of the best films at this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival is one that should really be seen on the big screen. This is pure movie adventure. Truly the stuff of legend. I absolutely loved this film. Go see it.”
--Unseen Films

Critic's Pick 3.5 Stars - "Beautiful documentary...filled with surprises…Carvalho meets up with Brigham Young and the Mormons, his father cofounds the Reform Judaism movement in the US, and the Cheyenne consider the photographer to be a supernatural being. It all makes for quite a story"
--This Week in New York

"This is a beautifully-made documentary directed by Steve Rivo"
--Florida Sun-Sentinel

A unique look at an artist in the American West
--Charleston City Paper

Critic’s Pick “Stories about Jews on the frontier are rare, and Carvalho’s Journey, filmed largely among the astonishing geographic formations of the Southwest, is both a surprising and a visually stunning work.”
--The Forward

"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 in Carvalho's Journey is more benign and more fruitful, and the no less far-reaching in its implications....A spirited retelling of the all-but-forgotten story."
--The Jewish Week

5 of 5 Stars Carvalho’s Journey speaks to the adventurer in all of us…a fascinating documentary with an excellent script.

“A symphony of visual beauty, brilliant sound, and sensitive learned understanding of a genius.”
--Barbara Krakow Gallery

Carvalho’s Journey takes us on a fascinating trip. Our audiences were totally engrossed and felt they made their own discovery.”
--San Francisco Jewish Film Festival Programmers

“Highly recommended…Fascinating…Carvalho is a remarkable historical figure and Rivo really does him justice by fully capturing the complexity of his era and the drama of his life."
--J.B. Spins

Critic's Pick - "Stunning.”
--Burnaway Voice of the South

Critic’s Pick - “An interesting lens of cultural interaction."

Critic’s Pick
--Denver Life Magazine
--Smashpipe NYC
--Latino Events New York
--Colorado Home Style

“This fascinating documentary from the "Who Knew" genre… is also an insightful description of the transition from daguerreotype to modern photography. And with all this, there is even a romance? Yes!”
--Second Avenue Tziv

"Interview with film participant historian Arlene Hirschfelder: “I’ve spent my whole life writing about American Indians. I’m always looking for Jewish-Native American connections.”
--New Jersey Jewish Standard

Carvalho's Journey - A New Documentary Film

A real life 19th-century American western adventure story, Carvalho's Journey tells the extraordinary story of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking explorer and artist.

In 1853, traveling with famed 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. Carvalho, a portrait painter who had never saddled his own horse, survived grueling conditions and lack of food along the 2400 mile journey from New York City through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and California. Carvalho’s experience as a Jew on the western trail was unprecedented, and his experience–and his writing about it–grant a clear window into the inter-ethnic cultural exchanges that were commonplace in this period in American history. Traveling alongside mountain men, pioneers, Native Americans, and Mormons, Carvalho produced beautiful art: daguerreotypes that became the lens through which the world experienced the American West.

Carvalho's Journey draws extensively on Carvalho’s bestselling 1857 memoir, Incidents of Travel and Adventure in the Far West. Voiceover recordings by acclaimed actors bring Carvalho’s dramatic, funny and humanist writings to life, along with first-person accounts by John Fremont, their Native-American guides, and 19th century luminaries such as Brigham Young of Utah, with whom Carvalho had a unique audience in Salt Lake City.

The film interweaves stunning HD digital and 16mm film landscape cinematography, rare 19th century photographs and artwork, Carvalho’s own surviving paintings and daguerreotypes, and interviews with scholars and artists, including modern day daguerreotypist Robert Shlaer who recreates Carvalho’s original daguerreotypes on location.

Narrated by Award winning actor Michael Stuhlbarg (Boardwalk Empire, Steve Jobs, A Serious Man). With original music by Jamie Saft (composer, Murderball).

Festival & Event Screenings (Select)

San Francisco Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Laemmle Theaters LA (Beverly Hills, Claremont, Santa Monica, Pasadena, Encino)
New York Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Portland Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Salt Lake City Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Tucson Jewish Film Festival
New York Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Atlanta Jewish Film Festival
Denver Jewish Film Festival
Spertus Institute Chicago - Q&A w/ director
Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
San Diego Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director via Skype
Washington Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Boulder Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Houston Jewish Film Festival
NY Sephardi Film Festival at Center for Jewish History - Q&A w/ director

Center for Southern Jewish Culture and Charleston JCC at the Terrace Theater - Q&A w/ director
Cherry Hill Jewish Film Festival
Princeton University Library - Q&A w/ director
National Center for Jewish Film Annual Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival - Q&A w/ director
Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Jewish Museum of Maryland - Q&A w/ director
St. Louis Jewish Film Festival

Festival of Jewish Culture, Paris - Q&A w/ director
Saratoga Jewish Culture Festival -
Teaneck International Film Festival - Q&A w/ Steve Rivo, Arlene Hirschfelder & David Oestricher
Sedona International Film Festival
Farthest North Jewish Film Festival
Albuquerque Jewish Film Festival
Atlantic Jewish Film Festival
Santa Fe Jewish Film Festival

About the Director

Steve Rivo
Filmmaker Steve Rivo has produced, directed or written projects for PBS, CNN, MTV, MSNBC, Discovery, Investigation Discovery, The Weather Channel, Court TV/TruTV and VH1, and for filmmakers Alex Gibney, Robert Redford and Ric Burns. Rivo was a producer of New York: A Documentary Film, Eugene O'Neil and Ansel Adams for PBS, senior producer of The Vice Guide To Everything, and a writer/director for the CNN series Death Row Stories. His documentaries have garnered Emmys, Du-Pont-Columbia, Peabody, IDA, Telly and Cine Golden Eagle awards. Rivo also teaches in the MFA program at Hofstra University.


USA, 2015, 85 min, color

Director/Producer/Writer: Steve Rivo
Editor/Co-Producer: Kathryn Barnier
Cinematography by: David A. Ford, Tony Rossi
Original Music: Jamie Saft
Narrator: Michael Stuhlbarg
Featuring the voice of John Hamilton as Solomon Carvalho

Robert Shlaer, Daguerreotype Artist (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
Arlene Hirschfelder, Independent Scholar (Teaneck, NJ)
Martha Sandweiss, Professor of History, Princeton University
John Mack Faragher, Professor of History, Yale University
Eileen Hallet Stone, Independent Scholar (Salt Lake City, UT)
David Oestreicher, Independent Scholar (Westchester, NY)
Dale Rosengarten, Curator, College of Charleston Library Special Collections
Jonathan Sarna, Professor of History, Brandeis University

Fiscal Sponsor: The National Center for Jewish Film

© Down Low Pictures, LLC

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