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Stemple Pass

Stemple Pass
March 5, 2022 - 7:30 pm
filmmaker James Benning, curator Steve Anker.

Stemple Pass


A humanistic portrait enveloped in landscape and duration, James Benning’s Stemple Pass is made up of four shots of the densely-wooded brae of a mountain behind his home, the same site on which he reconstructed American techno-terrorist Ted “Unabomber” Kaczynski’s cabin. Narrating excerpts from a miscellany of Kaczynski’s writings, Benning’s steady cadence communicates the humble pursuits of a man searching for autonomy in nature and for freedom from institutionalized power, two tenets that resonate through the core of American individualism. Advocating for horrific insurgence and exhibiting a complete disconnection from the peripheries of human morality and compassion, much of Kaczynski’s dogma is decidedly repellant; as a result, the film unfolds as an exegesis on the revolutionary ethos that informed Kaczynski’s homespun terror, tempered by Benning’s dedicated eye (and voice), characteristic patience, and resolute empathy.

—Pleasure Dome

Digital, color, sound, 121 min. Director: James Benning.