NOTFILM is a feature-length experimental essay on FILM -- its author Samuel Beckett, its star Buster Keaton, its production and its philosophical implications -- utilizing additional outtakes, never before heard audio recordings of the production meetings, and other rare archival elements.
Film Festival Screenings: (1) Hong Kong Film Festival (March 2016) (2) Film Society of Lincoln Centers' Film Comment Selects (February 2016) (3) BFI London Film Festival (4) International Film Festival Rotterdam (5) CPH: DOX (Copenhagen, Denmark). See more »
Anybody interested in Samuel Beckett, Buster Keaton or simply literature and/or cinema will want to watch and possess this 2-disc set. Made by film restorer Ross Lipman, Notfilm is an extensive and intensive documentary about the production in 1964 New York of the short movie, Film, Beckett's only foray into the Seventh Art. Via a series of accidental, but seemingly fated, events, the mantle of leading and almost only actor in Film fell on the shoulders of Keaton, then poor in both funds and health. By a twist of irony straight out of Borges or Kafka, Keaton famous for his impassive face was required by Beckett's screenplay to keep that face out of shot for almost the entirety of the movie.
Lipman's documentary contains interviews with some of the principals of the 1964 production; archive material, including out-takes, and tapes of production meetings involving Beckett, director Alan Schneider and cinematographer Boris Kaufman; interviews with other relevant figures, especially actor James Karen who both appeared briefly in Film and had been instrumental in recruiting Keaton, actress Billie Whitelaw famed for her interpretations of Beckett's stage roles, and Beckett's biographer James Knowlson.
For me, two personal highlights of the DVDs are the sound of Beckett's rarely recorded voice in the production meeting tapes, higher pitched than one might have expected; and the interviews with a frail but still luminous Whitelaw. One sweetly sentimental postscript to the 1964 shoot was that it resulted in an acclaimed appearance by Keaton at the Cannes Film Festival, his first at such an event, and only a few months before his death.
Strictly speaking, one of the two discs is the actual documentary Notfilm; the other is bonus material; but both are of equal interest and essential viewing. The producer is Milestone Film & Video (who, in parallel have also issued a restored version of Film itself).
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