Masters of the Avantgarde: Film & Notfilm

In 1965 the celebrated writer Samuel Beckett made what was to be his only film, starring an elderly and enigmatic Buster Keaton. The documentary on the making of FILM shows that Keaton did not have a clue what he was doing on set and that Beckett, too, considered the film a flop. FILM nevertheless remains an intriguing masterpiece.

FILM (Samuel Beckett, 1965) + Notfilm: A Kino-Essay by Ross Lipman (2015)

In 1964, five years before he was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature, the playwright Samuel Beckett wrote his only screenplay. To this day the avant-gardist project remains a stunning endeavour. Both vilified and critically acclaimed, the film was regarded as an immense failure by Beckett himself, while lead actor Buster Keaton also confessed he was completely lost: “I was confused when we shot it… and I’m still confused.”

Filmmaker Ross Lipman considered there was enough material for a poetic and experimental kino essay about Beckett’s cinematic adventure. The result is the ambitious Notfilm, a wide-ranging, two-hour-long documentary focusing on the personal, literary and cinematic background as well as the philosophical implications of FILM. The use of archival material, outtakes long considered lost, audiotapes of conversations between Beckett and director Alan Schneider, and interviews with experts and collaborators, has resulted in a wealth of rare material that is a must for film lovers. (IFFR)