Open City Documentary Festival

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Closing Night: TEN SKIES

James Benning | 2004 | United States | 101’ | 16mm

To celebrate the launch of Erika Balsom’s Ten Skies (Fireflies Press), a rare screening of James Benning’s homonymous 16mm film. This is a work to be experienced communally in the cinema after a year of cinema closures.

“In 2004, James Benning made a 16mm sound film of great simplicity: ten 10-minute static takes of the sky. TEN SKIES. How many films can be described so succinctly? It rivals early Warhol. The title says it all.

When I first saw the film, it felt like a punch of clean rigour. It was literal, obvious and empty in the best way, an elemental experience of pure vision appealing to the beauty of structure, photochemical film and the natural world. […] As time passed, I realised there was so much I had missed in my initial encounter with Benning’s celestial images.” (Erika Balsom)

In 2021, independent publishing house Fireflies Press launched a new series, the Decadent Editions: 10 books about 10 films, one for every year of the 2000s. Written by some of today’s most compelling cultural critics, each book is a deep dive into a single film. The presentation of Erika Balsom’s Ten Skies is accompanied by a day-long event on the practice of writing about cinema on Monday 13th September.

With an introduction by Erika Balsom. In partnership with Fireflies Press