I only saw 11×14, projected from 35mm, for the first time at the Berlinale in February this year; the fact I hadn’t thought more about a film since then made the unexpected delivery of the new DVD doubly exciting. There was also the Benning-like sense of timing: as the package itself fell through my letterbox, I was comforting myself from the unremitting racket of yet another springtime downpour by reading a new collection of essays dedicated to the filmmaker and his work. Edited by Nikolaj Lübecker and Daniele Rugo, James Benning’s Environments: Politics, Ecology, Duration reflects the exponential critical and scholarly interest in Benning over the last decade—an outcome, no doubt, of the greater accessibility to his work afforded by careerspanning preservation projects by the likes of the Austrian Filmmuseum. Another factor in this broadening attention has been Benning himself, and his conscious decision, after 2007, to soften his once-intransigent advocacy of celluloid (his work was hard to come by outside a cinema) and embrace new digital technologies; the Edition Filmmuseum’s latest release is its sixth entry in an ongoing series dedicated to the filmmaker.
The integral version of this article can be found in the printed KINO!