Monday, April 12, 2010

Ask questions!

James Benning
Every opportunity for a new experience, I take it. (You should do that, too, by the way. How else can you experience the adventure?)

I was invited to attend a viewing of James Benning's latest work, RR. (That's Railroad for numbskulls like me!) I gratefully accepted, and dressed up my kiddos in their nicest garb and for the sake of culture, trucked them to the event. (I'm happy to say they were extremely well behaved, perhaps for fear for their lives, but nonetheless, made me proud).

Originally, we were to eat dinner with James, but alas! His flight was delayed. We ate by a nice fountain outside and at 7:00pm on the dot, took our seats. I let the children choose our spots...the second row.  And the movie began.




Did I mention, trains? No music. No actors. Just: Fade In, train tracks, a train appears and goes by, leaves. Fade Out. Fade in, train tracks, a train appears and goes by, leaves. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. For 48 shots.

We were not prepared for this.

However! Thanks to my excellent parenting skills, the children remained silent and still.

Twenty minutes in, my youngest leaned over to me and whispered, "Are there any people in it?"

"I don't think so," I replied.


Once they got past the shock of a film with no plot, shooting sequence, or sex scenes that I make them cover their eyes for, they resigned themselves that for one hour and one minute, their life was: TRAINS.

Actually, it was quite a good film. The sounds, the scenery. Variation. Just an hour and one minute of trains.

The film ended. Applause from all. Then, the Q&A session. A few generic questions pop up. And then, James Benning, director of RR, points in my direction and says, "Yes?"

I look to my left and my beautiful twelve year old daughter has her hand raised.  And that's how it all started. Between her and my thirteen year old son, they dominated the questions. And they weren't "froo froo" questions. They were insightful:

"What prompted you to make a film about trains?"

"Did have a schedule or did you wait for the trains?"

"How long was your longest wait?"

"Is there anything you would change about it?"

"What DON'T you love about trains?"

"There were alot of southern routes, as seen by the landscape. Were any of the shots up north?"

"Will you ever do an animated film about trains?"

And my youngest: "Can you make a movie about super heroes?"

Afterwards, people praised the children for having such great questions and hailed me as an awesome mother for bringing them to the event. I, of course, beamed with pride. It's a family business, this film stuff.

I snapped a quick pic of the kiddos with James and the evening was complete.

My children's first avant garde film, first time to question a director, first time to a screening.

In the car, my thirteen year old commented, "You know, the movie was kinda boring with all those trains. But, now that I've met the director, it seems kinda interesting."

Spoken like a true critic.


  1. What was the movie about, trains?!? (lol). Your whole family will be famous one day, because you involve them in everything you do, you should be proud.

  2. Oh Cyndy, I don't know if we'll be famous, but we'll have some great memories. Isn't that what life is all about? I love sharing everything I can with them. Soon they'll be off and on their own and I'll miss these days...

  3. Totally sounds like a BLAST. And good for the kiddos. You've taught them that their questions and opinions matter juast as much as any adults. I love that about you and them!! And they have no fear. WTG! not sure I could sit through an hour of trains passing by, but could be interesting, I wouldn't totally write it off. Another great opportunity ;-)