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TESTING YOUR PATIENCE: AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMES BENNING

JAMES BENNING ESTABLISHED HIMSELF as an important contributor to American independent cinema in the mid-1970s with 11 x 14 (1976) and One Way Boogie Woogie (1977), formally inventive and visually engaging representations of urban and rural America. That the places in Benning’s early films were midwestern (he himself grew up in Milwaukee) gave notice that the so-called cinematic flyover zone—the territory between the centers of film production in New York and California—could not only be the focus of interesting work but could nurture an important avant-garde filmmaker. Later, Benning would move to New York City and then on to California (where he began teaching at CalArts in 1987), expanding his horizons while continuing to make a film every year or two. Given the considerable body of work he has created and the intense focus on place in so many of his best films—including the recent 13

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