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O Panama

James Benning, Burt Barr
USA 1985

Der 1985 nach Kurzgeschichten von Burt Barr gedrehte Film gleicht einem vertonten Fotoroman. Willem Dafoe als kranker Protagonist wälzt sich schlaflos im Bett, stolpert in fiebrigen Delirien und Alpträumen durch Wohnung und Realwelt, durch fantastische Landschaften mit Zebras und Wasserfällen. Die signifikant nachvertonte Tonspur assoziiert Geschichten dies- und jenseits der präsentierten Bilder, erst im Auge der Betrachtenden fügt sich die Filmstruktur zu einer vieldeutigen Erzählung. Das 1987 durch Feuer beschädigte Original steht nun restauriert und digitalisiert wieder zur Verfügung. (Maria Marchetta)

In Anwesenheit von James Benning.

27. 10., 18.30 h, Filmmuseum
Mit 11X14
28. 10., 16 h, Filmmuseum


Only once did the artistic trajectories of James Benning and Burt Barr intersect, but that they did with a Bang!, as O PANAMA is a gem that makes both their oeuvres shine a bit more brightly. In someways, this visit with a deliriously ill man is closer to Barr’s work at the time, like THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR (1984) or THE DOGS (1989), both urban alienation cacophonies done in a very rigorous, reduced style (Barr is now remembered mainly for his minimalist video works showing e. g. an ice cube melting …); then again: O PANAMA shares many a concern with Benning’s early adventures in experimental narrative like HONEYLANE ROAD (1973), 8 1/2x11 (1974) or 11x14 (1977), making this into something like a coda of a development discarded. From nowadays perspective, the probably most intriguing aspect of this exercise was the choice of actor to carry this one-manshow: a young Willem Dafoe in full Wooster Group furor just at the cusp of becoming a Hollywood star with STREETS OF FIRE (1984; Walter Hill), TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. (1985; William Friedkin) and PLATOON (1986; Oliver Stone). Which is to say that O PANAMA contains all of mid-1980s US moving image art – nothing less. (Olaf Möller)

In the presence of James Benning.

27. 10., 18.30 h, Filmmuseum
With 11X14
28. 10., 16 h, Filmmuseum

  • Willem Dafoe - Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Sebastian Moore Benefield
  • Joseph Gurley
  • Thomas Gurley
  • based on three short stories by Burt Barr
Susan Dowling, New Television Workshop, WGBH
James Benning
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