Jump directly to the page contents


Filmstill from "Allensworth" by James Benning. A light yellow wooden house against a barren landscape and blue sky.
© Courtesy of the artist and neugerriemschneider, Berlin
  • Director

    James Benning

  • USA / 2022
    65 min.

  • Original language


Without the title, it would be hard to place the first shots, aside from their position in the year. We start in January and end in December, with around five minutes dedicated to each month. A lonely tree before a winter sky, modern wooden houses and a plain brick hotel from the early 20th century, passing trains heard before seen: this could be any small American town, which it is and it isn’t; there’s enough time and space for contemplation of both. Founded in 1908, Allensworth was the first municipality in California to be governed by African-Americans. As we pass through the year and around the settlement, elements of this specific heritage also begin to accumulate: "Blackbird" by Nina Simone, "In the Pines" sung by Huddie Ledbetter, Lucille Clifton poems read out by a little girl direct to camera. But these are just echoes in a place that is now a museum, a space for reflection that the film maps out, fragments and amplifies as only cinema can, a place to think about what was, like the graveyard shown in the final shot. But remembering the past is also remembering that not all pasts are equal, and that’s where duration comes into play. Time still needs to be taken. (James Lattimer)

Production James Benning. Director James Benning.

James Benning, born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in 1942, he studied film. He has been making films since 1972 and has created numerous art installations. Since 1977, James Benning has been a frequent guest at Berlinale Forum as well as at Forum Expanded, with works including 11 x 14 (2018) and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (2022).

Films (selection): 1972: Time & A Half (17 min.). 1975: The United States of America (25 min.). 1977: 11 x 14 (83 min., Berlinale Forum 1977 & 2018), One Way Boogie Woogie (60 min.). 1979: Grand Opera. An Historical Romance (90 min., Berlinale Forum 1980). 1985: O Panama (28 min., Berlinale Forum 1987). 1986: Landscape Suicide (95 min., Berlinale Forum 1987). 1997: Four Corners (80 min., Berlinale Forum 1998). 1999: El Valley Centro (90 min., Berlinale Forum 2002). 2000: Los (90 min., Berlinale Forum 2002). 2002: Sogobi (90 min., Berlinale Forum 2002). 2004: 13 Lakes (133 min., Berlinale Forum 2005), Ten Skies (101 min., Berlinale Forum 2005). 2005: One Way Boogie Woogie/27 Years Later (120 min., Berlinale Forum 2006). 2007: RR (110 min., Berlinale Forum 2008). 2009: Ruhr (121 min.). 2010: John Krieg Exiting the Falk Corporation in 1971 (71 min.). 2011: Faces (135 min.), Milwaukee/Duisburg (Installation, Berlinale Forum Expanded 2011), Twenty Cigarettes (99 min., Berlinale Forum 2011), Small Roads (103 min.). 2012: Nightfall (98 min.), Stemple Pass (121 min., Berlinale Forum 2013), Easy Rider (95 min.), One Way Boogie Woogie 2012 (90 min.), BNSF (194 min.). 2014: Natural History (77 min.), Farocki (77 min.), Concord Woods (121 min.). 2015: American Dreams (85 min.). 2017: Untitled Fragments (75 min., video installation, Berlinale Forum Expanded 2017). 2018: L. Cohen (45 min., video installation, Berlinale Forum Expanded 2018). 2019: Maggie’s Farm (84 min., Berlinale Forum). 2022: United States of America (98 min., Berlinale Forum), Allensworth (65 min.).

Bonus Material

Background and a playlist on ALLENSWORTH

  • Filmstill from the movie "Allensworth" by James Benning. A wooden house in front of a grey sky. In the background some more houses.


    In “Subtle Heroisation” Holger Römers explores the history of the town of Allensworth and how James Benning’s film of the same name fits into his work

  • Filmstill from the movie "Allensworth" by James Benning. A wooden house in front of a grey sky. In the background some more houses.


    A YouTube playlist of videos related to ALLENSWORTH

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur