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James Benning - Circling the Image

North American Premiere

Germany | 84 MINUTES | English |


The American filmmaker James Benning has been one of the outstanding exponents of the structural film since the mid-1970s. A main focus of his work is an interest in American landscapes. In long sequences influenced by still photography and early cinema, Benning takes a meditative look at nature in its archaic state, and at the interventions of human technology. His new film focuses on 13 large American lakes (including the Salton Sea, and Lake Powell) along with their geographical historical relationship to the landscape. This documentary film accompanies the artist for a week as he searches for locations and as he films the first two shots for his own film. It shows the artist on the road, the unceasing search for suitable locations and motifs, Benning's relationship with the landscape and with the solitude involved with his work.


Directed by Reinhard Wulf and Erik Moe

Reinhard Wulf was a commissioning editor at WDR television in Cologne, Germany, responsible for the development and production of documentaries on the arts and film. He has also worked as a film critic and freelance film historian, as well as the author of numerous books and articles on such notable film directors as Curtis Bernhardt, Douglas Sirk, and Billy Wilder. Wulf has directed several television documentaries on film history, film directors and artists, among them Michel Deville (1992), Claude Sautet (1993), Carl Theodor Dreyer's GERTRUD (1994), New Sight, New Sound: Restoring Silent Films at PHOTOPLAY (1998), William Kentridge: Drawing the Passing (1999) (a Golden Gate Award, San Francisco 2000), Tom Tykwer (2000), and Gary Hill: I Believe It Is an Image (2001). James Benning: Circling the Image (2003) is his first feature-length documentary.