“Ruhr” is the first film by James Benning to be shot outside of America and represents an American artist’s view of the Ruhr district. Starting in Duisburg, Benning goes on a series of journey to explore this erstwhile working class region. His conceptions of labor and culture remain his central focus throughout – culture that emerges from labor, labor that give rise to culture, and art, whose works completes the conception of culture in society.
To this end, he filmed in the Duisburg steelworks, created a portrait of Richard Serra’s “Bramme für das Ruhrgebiet” sculpture on the Schurrenbach slag heap in Essen, attended the Friday prayers in the Duisburg mosque in Marxloh and observed life in a small Essen side street.
The film follows a particular pattern in all of these scenes, a matrix of processes which divides time into sections according to a specific set of rhythms, thus allowing history, change and transformation to be constantly woven into the narrative. “Ruhr” is thus both a portrait of a region in the grip of structural change that represents a paradigm change in the cultural history of labor as well as an homage to the region and its people, to those who form the culture of the region through their labor.
Director James Benning on his film: "I know very little about the Ruhr Region, in fact it is hard for me to pronounce its name – and I’ve never shot High Definition before. Yet I believe I have made a film true to my feelings of this place. Ruhr takes a look at some of the labor performed here and the processes controlled by that labor. It is about things that reoccur and the subtle changes that happen. It asks you to look and to listen."
Country / Year: Germany 2009, Format: HD Cam, Blu-Ray, Hard disk, Running time: 120 minutes, without dialogue, Release date: 26.08.2010
Director, script, cinematography, editing: James Benning, Producer: Zorana Musikic, Co-Producers: 3sat/ZDF