filmmaker from Los Angeles, and a professor in the the film school at California Institute of the Arts
Benning's films are amazing in that they are quite extreme challenges to
the attention span
. Contrary to most of mainstream film and television, there
are very few cuts
in Benning's work, and the shot
s are of really long duration, like 1-3
minutes. There are no pan
s, or dissolve
s either, just the
camera framing a single composition
, for a few minutes, then a straight
cut to something else.
His 1995 film Deseret, about Utah, had some narration,
which consisted entirely of quotes from the New York Times concerning the history of the Mormons (starting in the 1850s).
But in his newest film, Los, which is all about Los Angeles, there is only on-location sound and visuals - no titles, dialog, voiceovers, nothing but the footage.
However, Benning's eye for
composing an image is so strong that each shot is really
interesting and one seldom feels bored (unless you're really a true victim of Attention Deficit Disorder). Overall the effect
is captivating. He manages to make mundane scenes of Los Angeles (in the case of Los) seem
very very strange and interesting. Example shots are: a junk car lot; A
strip mall in Koreatown; a deserted street in a proto-subdivision
somewhere in the desert; a freighter leaving the port at San Pedro, with
sea lions frolicking in the foreground, kids waiting for a school bus. Los is an incredible film, especially if you are patient and you have ever lived in Los Angeles.
Some of Benning's other films are:
- Four Corners
- El Valley Centro
(oh, and yes, he is the father of Sadie Benning