In the Spring of 1975 Benning and Gordon drive from New York City straight through the country all the way to California. They spend eleven days on the road gathering material for the film. A camera is affixed to the backseat of a car, aimed forward and shooting the passengers from behind who takes turns at the wheel and flank both sides of the screen. All the sound was recorded on the trip and later edited with the images. Brief views are seen from the vantage point of the car as it crosses the continent, an epic trip condensed in time. The USA passes before our eyes in the form of a continous linear locomotion witnesses through the windshield – a road movie in the purest sense of the word. —Barbara Pichler: James Benning 2007
James Benning’s early films fused the “structuralist” investigations into sound-image relationships of filmmakers like Michael Snow and Hollis Frampton with an interest in narrative and a deep sensitivity to color, light, and landscape. He first grabbed the attention of the avant-garde film world with 8 1/2 × 11 and 11 × 14. Filmed in vivid color in the rural and urban landscapes of his native Midwest, these two films would provide the kernel for his further investigations into film form.
His films’ rigorous structures — often based on numerical systems — and exquisitely composed shots reflect his training as a mathematician, and their frequently autobiographical subject matter draws upon his working-class roots (a rare subject for avant-garde film) and his longtime commitment to political activism.
While his earliest films are mostly concerned with form and narrative, his work in the ‘80s began to introduce both personal subject matter and documentary elements, at the… read more
Bette Gordon is a New York-based filmmaker best known for her feminist-oriented independent films. She began her career while enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in collaboration with her former husband James Benning. At that time all of her films were experimental. Gordon continued making experimental films when she served as a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She moved to New York in 1979. A year later Gordon created Empty Suitcases, a psychodrama combined with avant-garde elements. —Wikipedia