James Benning, Fire & Rain, 2009. Trailer for the 2009 Viennale.

    James Benning

    1:22, 2009

    From YouTube:

    Festival-Trailer Fire & Rain

    The annual festival trailer has been one of the Viennales special features for quite some time now. It is not a commercial trailer as such, but rather a small, autonomous piece of cinema, standing on its own and for the festival alike.

    In the case of James Bennings work this short trailer is a true action film. Benning shot the work process in a steelworks in the Ruhr area. On a kind of conveyor belt, a glowing piece of steel flits across the screen and disappears only to reappear again as a blazing, shining material. Finally, artificial rain falls onto the glowing metal, shrouding the whole image in a cloud of steam and making it disappear.

    Created at the Viennales invitation, James Bennings short film is both a simple and subtle piece of cinema. I took the steel rolling process that takes about ten minutes, as the filmmaker explains his approach, and condensed it down to one minute by cutting out portions and hiding the ellipses in time with dissolves.

    Following last years Viennale trailer by Jean-Luc Godard, which turned out to be a small miracle of montage art, Bennings work is an equally fascinating cinematic poem about time and motion taking an industrial work process as an example. And it would not be James Benning, had he not chosen the title of an old hippie song by James Taylor as the title for his trailer: Fire and Rain.

    The festival trailer Fire & Rain will be screened from September 24 in more than one hundred selected Austrian cinemas and will be shown repeatedly as part of the Viennale program from October 22 to November 4.