Notes on an Appearance

David sends a postcard to his roommate Todd from Milan, saying Madeline is already settled in. Upon his return to the US, he visits his parents, is handed a cheque, reunites with Todd in Brooklyn, schedules job interviews. Then a shot of a side street, between tall buildings, without cars, David walks into frame, opera surges on the soundtrack, he walks further into the image until he’s no longer there. Todd and Madeline search for him across the city, between literary events, exhibition openings, one-night stands, coffee shop chat. Even before David disappeared, the paper trail he left behind kept flashing up on screen, the cheque, the boarding pass, diary entries, but other documents are now needed, identification photos, missing persons forms, the postcard from Milan; nothing helps. Before David disappeared, he was cataloguing the holdings of contentious dead philosopher Steven Taubes, who left behind traces of his own: videos of far-flung cities, recordings that talk of the death of politics, critical reassessments, rumours that a movement is growing. Dossiers should provide certainty, but they no longer do, how unnerving it is to realise that life is now the gaps.
by Ricky D'Ambrose
with Keith Poulson, Tallie Medel, Bingham Bryant, Madeleine James, Daryl Jade Williams, Stephen Gurewitz, James N. Kienitz Wilkins, Kathryn Danielle, A. S. Hamrah, Jessica Pinfield
USA 2018 English 60’ Colour


  • Keith Poulson (Todd)
  • Tallie Medel (Madeleine)
  • Bingham Bryant (David)
  • Madeleine James (Karin)
  • Daryl Jade Williams (Brandon)
  • Stephen Gurewitz (Cousin)
  • James N. Kienitz Wilkins (Ethan)
  • Kathryn Danielle (Mother)
  • A. S. Hamrah (Father)
  • Jessica Pinfield (Valerie)


Written and Directed by Ricky D'Ambrose
Cinematography Barton Cortright
Editing Ricky D'Ambrose
Sound Design Kevin T. Allen
Sound Sean Dunn
Production Design Ricky D'Ambrose
Producer Graham Swon

World sales

Partisan Films

Produced by

Graham Swon

Ricky D'Ambrose

Born in Livingston, New Jersey, United States in 1987. He studied English Literature and Cinema Studies. Since 2013, he has shot and edited a series of video-recorded directors’ talks for the online film magazine MUBI Notebook. Ricky D’Ambrose has written film reviews and essays. Following four short films, Notes on an Appearance is his first feature film.


2011 The Stranger; 31 min. 2012 Pilgrims; 13 min. 2015 Six Cents in the Pocket; 14 min., Berlinale Shorts 2016 2016 Spiral Jetty; 15 min. 2018 Notes on an Appearance

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2018