natural history

Year: 2014
Country: USA
Director: James Benning
Genre: documentary
Runtime: 77 min.
Age: 18+
A new film by the great American structural minimalist, commissioned by and about the Museum of Natural History Vienna.

Anyone who lets artist and filmmaker James Benning into a museum knows that it's not going to result in an action film. In his career that spans 40 years, this time Benning focuses his camera on the Natural History Museum in Vienna. With an eye for colour, lines and composition, he keeps filming a generally unseen spot or detail in the museum: a cellar corridor with piping and anonymous doors, the vast foyer, an office with a ticking clock, all kinds of stuffed animals - foxes, polar bears, butterflies and rows of beetles on pins. But also fish in formaldehyde, rocks and the occasional book.
Sometimes briefly and sometimes for minutes at a time, he focuses on an object or still-life, with background sounds - voices, squeaking planks, soft hammering - as the soundtrack. Together, the images form an unorthodox portrait of a place where the history of life has come to a standstill and yet lives on, and where the viewer is given plenty of room to reflect on that.

Awards & Festivals:

Viennale (Vienna International Film Festival) - participation
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) - particiapetion
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival - participation
Jeonju International Film Festival - paticipation
Seattle International Film Festival - participation