James Benning 1986 USA 16mm 92 minutes
Introduction by Dennis Cooper and Zac Farley
James Benning’s America is a country terrified equally by the wilderness to which it’s in thrall and the civilization it’s set up to keep that wilderness at bay. And nowhere in his work does that tension become more chillingly clear than in LANDSCAPE SUICIDE, in which Benning found two of his most striking case studies in a pair of murderers whose crimes took place 30 years and more than half the country apart: Bernadette Protti, who stabbed one of her California high-school classmates to death in 1984 over an insult, and Ed Gein, the infamous killer from Plainfield, Wisconsin, who made trophies out of his victim’s bodies. Like many of Benning’s films, LANDSCAPE SUICIDE consists largely of footage of places, landscapes, and roads accompanied by—or paired with—speech, which in this case comes from court testimonies of the killers’ words read aloud by actors.
Dennis Cooper & Zac Farley: “We love James Benning’s films and thought about them when imagining our film’s possibilities. What makes his great 1987 documentary LANDSCAPE SUICIDE feel particularly like an elder kin to Permanent Green Light is how it eschews the psychological rhetoric that usually accompanies filmic accounts of crime, caring only about the mysterious vacancy of the film’s people and locations, and their relationships to each other.”
Cooper and Farley will also present the North American premiere of Permanent Green Light and more in the series Dennis Cooper Carte Blanche. Get tickets.
GME is the authorized distributor of several James Benning DVD releases to the North American educational market.