A portrait of an art institution as a cinematic landscape: in a succession of static shots, James Benning explores the buildings and terrain of the California Institute of the Arts, where he teaches. A series of views of nature filmed in the surrounding park and woods transitions into images of floors, seating areas and other details of a public building not meant for show. In both parts, an uncanny feeling dominates: the geometries of nature, the dark green and brown tones, the rushing of the highway in the background on the one hand and the humming of halogen lamps, the sound of steps in an otherwise seemingly empty school on the other – it all seems to be hiding a secret. The camera’s gaze is almost always restricted; it rarely penetrates very far into the image. It discovers shabby corners, observing scenarios more reminiscent of a mystery novel than the campus of an art institution. More so than in the majority of James Benning’s longer works of recent years, a narrative lies concealed within the images; every shot creates an urge to move forward, a tension, almost as if the landscapes and interiors were the scenes of a crime.
by James Benning USA 2020 Without dialogue 84’ Colour World premiere Documentary form

Crew

DirectorJames Benning
ProducerJames Benning

Produced by

James Benning

James Benning

Born in Milwaukee, USA in 1942. He began working as an independent filmmaker in 1972, even before studying Film at the University of Wisconsin, starting with short films and subsequently moving on to longer experimental works. Starting in the 1970s, he also created a number of screen projections and computer installations. Besides his current film work, Benning has taught at the California Institute of the Arts since 1987.

Filmography (selection)

1972 Time & A Half; 17 min. · Time & A Half; 17 min. · Art Hist. 101; 17 min. 1973 Honeyland Road; 11 min. 1974 8½ x 11; 33 min. 1975 Saturday Night; 3 min. · The United States of America; 25 min. · 9/1/75; 22 min. 1977 11 x 14; 83 min., Forum 1977, Forum 2018 · 11 x 14; 83 min., Forum 1977, Forum 2018 · One Way Boogie Woogie; 60 min. · One Way Boogie Woogie; 60 min. 1979 Grand Opera. An Historical Romance; 90 min., Forum 1980 · Grand Opera. An Historical Romance; 90 min., Forum 1980 1981 Him and Me; 88 min. 1983 American Dreams (lost and found); 56 min. 1985 O Panama; 28 min., Forum 1987 · O Panama; 28 min., Forum 1987 1986 Landscape Suicide; 95 min., Forum 1987 · Landscape Suicide; 95 min., Forum 1987 1988 Used Innocence; 95 min. 1991 North on Evers; 87 min. 1995 Deseret; 82 min. 1997 Four Corners; 80 min., Forum 1998 · Four Corners; 80 min., Forum 1998 1998 Utopia; 93 min. 1999 El Valley Centro; 90 min., Forum 2002 · El Valley Centro; 90 min., Forum 2002 2000 Los; 90 min., Forum 2002 · Los; 90 min., Forum 2002 2002 Sogobi; 90 min., Forum 2002 · Sogobi; 90 min., Forum 2002 2004 13 Lakes; 133 min., Forum 2005 · 13 Lakes; 133 min., Forum 2005 · Ten Skies; 101 min., Forum 2005 · Ten Skies; 101 min., Forum 2005 2005 One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later; 120 min., Forum 2006 · One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later; 120 min., Forum 2006 2007 RR; 110 min., Forum 2008 · RR; 110 min., Forum 2008 · Casting a Glance; 81 min. · Casting a Glance; 81 min. 2009 Ruhr; 121 min. · Ruhr; 121 min. 2010 John Krieg Exiting the Falk Corporation in 1971; 71 min. · John Krieg Exiting the Falk Corporation in 1971; 71 min. · Pig Iron; 33 min. · Pascal’s Lemma (document); 17 min. · Reforming the Past; 60 min. · Reforming the Past; 60 min. 2011 Two Cabins; 30 min. · Two Cabins; 30 min. · Faces (1973); 25 min. · Faces; 135 min. · Faces; 135 min. · Milwaukee/Duisburg; Installation, Forum Expanded 2011 · Milwaukee/Duisburg; Installation, Forum Expanded 2011 · Twenty Cigarettes; 99 min., Forum 2011 · Twenty Cigarettes; 99 min., Forum 2011 · After Warhol; 65 min. · Small Roads; 103 min. · Small Roads; 103 min. 2012 Nightfall; 98 min. · Nightfall; 98 min. · Stemple Pass; 121 min., Forum 2013 · Stemple Pass; 121 min., Forum 2013 · Easy Rider; 95 min. · Easy Rider; 95 min. · One Way Boogie Woogie 2012; 90 min. · One Way Boogie Woogie 2012; 90 min. · BNSF; 194 min. · BNSF; 194 min. 2013 US 41; 52 min. · US 41; 52 min. 2014 Natural History; 77 min. · Natural History; 77 min. · Farocki; 77 min. · Farocki; 77 min. · Concord Woods; 121 min. · Concord Woods; 121 min. 2015 American Dreams; 85 min. · American Dreams; 85 min. · Fresh Air; 46 min. 2016 Dancing in the Street; 6 min. · Fall Equinox; 77 min. · Fall Equinox; 77 min. · Spring Equinox; 77 min. · Spring Equinox; 77 min. · Measuring Change; 61 min. · Time after Time; 44 min. 2017 Untitled Fragments; 75 min. · Untitled Fragments; 75 min. 2018 L. Cohen; 45 min., video installation, Forum Expanded 2018 · L. Cohen; 45 min., video installation, Forum Expanded 2018 · TELEMUNDO; 82 min. · TELEMUNDO; 82 min. · two moons; 43 min. · two moons; 43 min. · glory · glory

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2020