In 1964 author Samuel Beckett set out on one of the strangest ventures in cinematic history: his embattled collaboration with silent era genius Buster Keaton on the production of a short, titleless avant-garde film. Beckett was nearing the peak of his fame, which would culminate in his receiving a Nobel Prize five years later. Keaton, in his waning years, never lived to see Beckett’s canonization. The film they made along with director Alan Schneider, renegade publisher Barney Rosset, and Academy Award-winning cinematographer Boris Kaufman, has been the subject of praise, condemnation, and controversy for decades. Yet the eclectic participants are just one part of a story that stretches to the very birth of cinema, and spreads out to our understanding of human consciousness itself.
NOTFILM is the feature-length movie on FILM’s production and its philosophical implications, utilizing additional outtakes, never before heard audio recordings of the production meetings, and other rare archival elements.
The Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett and the ageing comic genius Buster Keaton bumped into each other on a New York street in the summer of 1964. The result was the mythical and nightmarish cult film, which quite simply was called ‘Film’. A fiercely ambitious and at the same time scary, surreal and slapstick comic work based on Beckett’s highly developed theoretical thoughts about the medium, with which he here tested intellectual powers for the first – and only – time. Through meticulous research, ‘Notfilm’ digs into the heart of one of film history’s most curious artistic encounters. James Joyce, Sergei Eisenstein and other intellectual giants appear in the most unexpected places in the strange and pervasive – and surprisingly funny – story about the film’s tumultuous genesis, where an irascible, beer-drinking Keaton would refuse to let his baseball game be disturbed by a pompous author. A must for aficionados of literature, Keaton-fans and people with a really dark sense of humour.