The 19th edition of veteran film festival Media City begins next week (May 21-25, Windsor, Ontario) with an opening night featuring performances by CCMC (Michael Snow, John Oswald and Al Mattes) and avant-noise band Wolf Eyes. A selection of Super 8 and 16mm films by Saul Levine, who will also be part of the jury, and the Canadian premiere of James Benning's new film Stemple Pass are among its many highlights.
The core of the festival is its competition programme, that in this edition features nearly fifty films and videos by artists such as Bruce McClure, David Gatten, Jeannette Muñoz, Kevin Jerome Everson, Mary Helena Clark, Stephen Connolly, Johann Lurf, Robert Todd and Nick Collins, to name just a few.
Produced at the junction of two millennia, the California Trilogy is James Benning's three-part topographical study of America's "Golden State". Looking to the past while investigating the present, the mathematician-turned-filmmaker condenses three distinct Californian landscapes into a total of 105 shots, each exactly 2½ minutes long. Formal restraint and compositional precision combine with ambient sound and an unheard social commentary to create a hypnotic journey across the 31st US State; from the Great Central Valley (El Valley Centro) through greater Los Angeles (Los) to the Californian wilderness (Sogobi). This 2-disc set presents the complete California Trilogy for the first time ever on DVD.
Out of the past: Film restoration today
Monday November 26, 2012, 19:30h
James Bridges Theater, Melnitz Hall, UCLA campus
Recent Work From Anthology Film Archives
Monday December 3, 2012, 19:30h
Billy Wilder Theater, Hammer Museum, Westwood Village
Film restoration and preservation are at the core of UCLA Film & Television Archive activities and essential to conserving our motion picture heritage. Restorations also play an increasingly vital role in making old films accessible to modern audiences, whether through public screenings, home video distribution or online delivery. But what constitutes restoration? What do moving image preservationists do? The present series proposes to answer these questions, while discussing ethical issues, such as the status of the original and how digitality might change our perception of historic material. Each evening will be a behind-the-scenes look into contemporary restoration techniques and concerns, featuring newly restored prints and introductions by leading film preservationists.
Balagan and Magic Lantern Cinema Present:
Ship to Shore
Experimental land- and seascape documentaries by Peter Hutton and James Benning
Two outdoor film events:
Friday, August 24th, 20h
Norman B. Leventhal Park, Post Office Square, Downtown Boston
Saturday, August 25th, 20h
Grant’s Block, 260 Westminster St., Downtown Providence
Balagan and Magic Lantern Cinema have collaborated to present a pair of outdoor film events on consecutive nights in Boston and Providence under the banner “Ship to Shore,” evoking the seafaring histories of their respective cities. Each screening will present one feature film and one short film by acclaimed experimental filmmakers Peter Hutton and James Benning – two artists who share a similarly contemplative approach to place-based documentary film practice while still retaining strikingly original styles of filmic analysis and expression. A former merchant seaman, Hutton has documented four decades of voyages through such places as the Yangtze River, the coastline of northern Iceland, and the Hudson River Valley in his majestically photographed films, which merge observational and diaristic modes of narration, and whose reverent depictions of landscape have been compared to the work of Thomas Cole and the nineteenth-century Luminist painters. Benning has been producing meditative portraits of the American landscape for as many years, creating works that blend rigorous formal concerns with a deep investment in national politics, local histories, and the environment. Along with receiving a host of awards and critical accolades, Hutton’s and Benning’s films have screened at highly prestigious festivals and institutions throughout the world, such as the Vienna International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Tate Modern in London.
In casting a glance one artist pays tribute to another as James Benning offers his filmic paean to Robert Smithson's legendary "earthwork" sculpture, the Spiral Jetty. With RR, his homage to the American railroad, the filmmaker brings an era to its close by going back to cinema's roots. Shot back-to-back over a period of two years, these works marked James Benning's farewell to analogue filmmaking and together constitute the profound "last words" on the film medium by one of its most singular innovators. This 2-disc set presents both films together with rare audio interviews in which Benning recounts the experience of making his "last" films and gives unique insight into his creative methods.
For 40 years, James Benning has been a singular, defiant voice in the American independent film scene. This 2-disc set the first in a planned series devoted to the filmmaker's oeuvre features two of Benning's seminal works from the mid-1980s for the first time ever on DVD: American Dreams (lost and found) is the filmmaker's personal take on the history of the USA from 1954 to 1976, told through a complex and thought provoking amalgamation of image, text and sound. In Landscape Suicide, he effortlessly strides the boundaries of narrative and documentary forms as he recounts two infamous murder cases that took place almost 30 years apart.
The 2009 edition of the documentary film festival Pnnto de Vista (Pamplona, Spain), to be held next February 13-21, will feature a near-complete retrospective of the film career of James Benning, ranging from his works of the seventies to his latest films RR and Casting a Glance, both of which won the latest LAFCA award. The presence of the filmmaker has benn already confirmed.
Another prominent protagonist in this edition will be british filmmaker Ben Rivers, who will screen a selection of his most relevant films, including This is my land, House, The Coming Race and Ah, Liberty!.Rivers received recntly the award to the best short film at the Rotterdam Film Festival for Ah, Liberty!. The festival will include a programme called La segunda vida de las imágenes ('The second life of images') featuring found-footage films ranging from classics by Joseph Cornell and Ken Jacobs to recent works by Alan Berliner, Félix Viscarret or Jesús Pérez Miranda.