Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater (2013/2014)

Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater


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Opened: 07/18/2014 Limited

Anthology/NYC07/18/2014 - 07/24/20147 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Twitter, Facebook

Genre: Biographical Documentary

Rated: Unrated

This unique documentary focuses on the friendship between director Richard Linklater ("Before Midnight") and experimental filmmaker James Benning, combining filmed conversations and archival material to explore connections between the work and lives of these two American visionaries.


In 1985, former oil rig worker Richard Linklater began a film screening society in Austin, Texas, that aimed to show classic art-house and experimental films to a budding community of cinephiles and filmmakers. Eventually incorporating as a nonprofit, the newly branded Austin Film Society raised enough money to fly in their first out-of-town invitee: Milwaukee native James Benning, visionary filmmaker, who was then based in New York.

Accepting the invitation, Benning met Linklater and immediately the two began to develop a personal and intellectual bond, leading to future screenings and encounters. Starting in the late '60s, Benning had been creating structural non-narrative films largely on his own, while Linklater had just begun to craft his first 8 and 16mm shorts. The filmmakers have remained close even as their careers have wildly diverged. After the cult success of Slacker (1991), Linklater went on to make big budget narrative films with Hollywood support. Benning, meanwhile, has stayed close to his modest roots and is mainly an unknown figure in mainstream film culture.

Working with legendary producer Andre S. Labarthe -- who co-created the long-running French television series "Cinema, de notre temps" ("Cinema of Our Time") -- the critic, teacher, and curator Gabe Klinger set out to document the unique friendship of Benning and Linklater over the course of a few days in Austin and Bastrop, Texas, while the two filmmakers presented Benning's films at the Austin Film Society, played baseball at Linklater's home, visited old shooting locations, and talked about their respective filmmaking trajectories over long meals and hikes.