Since the late 1970s, James Benning's films have been a regular fixture at festivals in Germany and Austria, while frequent television broadcasts have helped expose his work to an even larger audience here than perhaps at home. This 2-disc set presents the products of this intercontinental relationship: RUHR, Benning's first foray into digital filmmaking, is a modern-day "city symphony" dedicated to Germany's industrial Ruhr district. His latest work, NATURAL HISTORY, is an audiovisual portrait commissioned by Vienna's Natural History Museum.

RUHR  (2009)

RUHR (2009)

“It is perhaps because James Benning’s work is so resistant to neat categorization that his films have rarely received the recognition they deserve.  His work fuses elements of American structuralism, the narrative avant-garde and experimental documentary.” 

– Danni Zuvela, “Talking about Seeing: A Conversation with James Benning”



James Benning filming  13 LAKES.

James Benning filming 13 LAKES.

Reinhard Wulf's feature-length documentary JAMES BENNING: CIRCLING THE IMAGE, produced for German television, is a DVD extra that significantly illuminates Benning’s working method, especially the manner in which his films are composed of carefully-timed, long takes and precisely selected, fixed camera positions.

James Benning with camera.

James Benning with camera.

"The American filmmaker James Benning has been one of the outstanding exponents of the structural film since the mid-1970s. A main focus of his work is an interest in American landscapes. In long sequences influenced by still photography and early cinema, Benning takes a meditative look at nature in its archaic state, and at the interventions of human technology. His new film focuses on 13 large American lakes (including the Salton Sea and Lake Powell) along with their geographical historical relationship to the landscape. In JAMES BENNING: CIRCLING THE IMAGE, documentary filmmaker Reinhard Wulf accompanies the artist for a week as he searches for locations and as he films the first two shots for his own movie. It shows the artist on the road, the unceasing search for suitable locations and motifs, Benning's relationship with the landscape and with the solitude involved in his work."

– Jon Gartenberg on JAMES BENNING: CIRCLING THE IMAGE, Tribeca Film Festival 2004



Format: DVD-PAL / Region 0
(No Regional Code)


(Germany, 2009)

Director, writer, cinematographer, editor: James Benning
Producer: Schaf Oder Scharf Film, ZDF/3sat

• 122 minutes
• HD Video
• Color
• Sound


(Austria, 2014)

Director, writer, cinematographer, editor, producer: James Benning

• 77 minutes
• HD Video
• Color
• Sound


Bonus Material

FIRE & RAIN: Viennale Trailer
(US / Austria, 2009)

Director, writer, cinematographer, editor, producer: James Benning

• 1 minute
• HD Video
• Color
• Sound

(Germany, 2003)

Director: Reinhard Wulf
Camera: Jürgen Behrens
Sound: Günter Kunze
Editing: Susanne Schweinheim
Sound mixing: Klaus Vogler
Graphic design: Wieslaw Prus
Color correction: Edgardo Antonio Gomez
Production Manager: Erik nacken
Commissioning Editor: Werner Dütsch
Producer: Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) & Köln

• 84 minutes
• Digital Betacam
• Color
• Sound


Total Running Time: 04:44:00 (2 Discs)

Language: English. German subtitles

Booklet Text: Alexander Horwath, James Benning, Werner Dütsch, Reinhard Wulf, Werner Ružička & Christian Köberl (Bilingual German & English) 

Published By: Edition Filmmuseum

Institutional Price: $300 (plus shipping).

To order call: 212.280.8654 or click here for information on ordering by fax, e-mail or post.