VILLAGE VOICE CRITICS’ PICK! Ross Lipman's studious, rigorous, and surprisingly tender documentary…gives us access to Beckett at work.



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, 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 out-takes, never before heard audio recordings of the production meetings, and other rare archival elements.

“Completely fascinating! … A thoughtful, incisive meditation on its decades-old events, Notfilm is gossipy and philosophical by turn, joining microscopic analysis of the filmmakers' lofty intentions with juicy morsels of information about exactly what happened when theory met practice on the steamy summer streets of New York City where Film was shot…For moviegoers who care about film not just as a title, Notfilm can be unreservedly recommended.” - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“NOTFILM testifies to an almost inexhaustible fascination with the pleasures and paradoxes of cinema…. Notfilm finds a hitherto uncharted dimension of human and cinematic experience.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“Notfilm is enthralling!” - Scott Eyman, Film Comment

“Illuminating” - Brooklyn Magazine

Listen to Ross Lipman talk about NOTFILM on the WNYC Leonard Lopate Show:

“Notfilm will have you thinking about film, perception, and memory long after you leave the theatre. It is Notjustafilm—it is much more. —Tanya Goldman, Screen Slate

“It is the most successful work of docu-criticism since Richard Misek’s Rohmer in Paris. Highly recommended” - Joe Bendel, JBSpins Blog

”Must-see cinema” ... worthy of its lofty subjects. This double feature [FILM + NOTFILM] is required viewing for all serious aesthetes, film students and lovers of the cinematic stuff that dreams are made of.” - Hollywood Progressive

“The amount of priceless material unearthed or contextualized along the way verging on the staggering.” - Slant

“…[a] fascinating investigation into Beckett’s thinking and dramatic practice.” - J. Hoberman, NYRB Calendar

“(Notfilm) finds in Film genuine insights about Beckett’s work as a whole, and even about the nature of the movies.” - The New Yorker

“Notfilm is a definitive documentary account of the making of Samuel Beckett’s only film work and a brilliant examination of its significance in relation to Beckett’s dramatic works and to film theory. Lipman very persuasively and masterfully shows Film's continuing importance.” - Jonathan Rosenbaum

“Film is an intriguing and vital document in Samuel Beckett’s life-long engagement and fascination with perception, and the image. And Ross Lipman’sNotfilm, using unique material never seen or heard before, strikingly brings to life the genesis of Film, Beckett’s only foray into the cinematic medium.” — Mark Nixon, Co-Director, Beckett International Foundation, The University of Reading; President, Samuel Beckett Society

“I am lost in admiration for this work … the film is ambitious, thrilling and illuminating. It represents an invaluable addition to Beckett scholarship. NOTFILM is a superb film.” — James Knowlson, OBE Beckett’s authorized biographer and founder of the Samuel Beckett Archive

“NotFilm offers a fascinating glimpse into the making of Beckett's Film including interviews, new recordings of the author in discussion, and reconstructed moments from its lost opening. Through the medium of the kino-essay NotFilm opens up a creative dialogue between Film and the film histories and possibilities that inspired it.” —Anna McMullan, University of Reading, Co-Director of the Beckett International Foundation

“Ross Lipman has crafted a documentary worthy of the legacy of two towering cultural icons, Samuel Beckett and Barney Rosset. A combination of sensitivity and astonishing, outstanding scholarship--the product of a decade's worth of detective work--makes this an essential contribution to approaching an understanding of Beckett and his American publisher, with onionskin layers of meaning that take it far beyond. Lipman not only unearthed facts, clips, and recordings that will be new to Beckettistas, but his framing of the whole--his visible but not intrusive presence as an intelligent documentarian within the film--makes this as close to 'true' as you can get. Unless you were on the set of 'Film' in 1964 (and perhaps even then), 'Notfilm' will deepen your understanding of what happened.” —John Oakes, editor Evergreen Review, publisher OR Books
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Ross Lipman

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