Director: Benjamin P. Speth
Screenwriters: Benjamin P. Speth

Institute History

  • 1999 Sundance Film Festival


dresden is an examination of the world told through pictures and sounds randomly overlapping one another. A narrative story unfolds within the context of the film but is embedded in divergent scenes of New York City and occasionally unrelated soundscapes that mesmerize the viewer.
Writer/director Ben Speth creates the character of Alex to use as his subject in this study of random happenings called life. The story follows Alex, a thirty-eight-year-old dancer, as she goes through the motions of her day—drinks with a girlfriend, fighting with her boyfriend, dance rehearsal, infidelity—and effectively shows the discontent in her life. Anne Iobst plays Alex with such honesty and grace that you quickly forget that she is really a fictional character. Speth shows the events of Alex’s day but does not go any further; thus, the end of the film is not the end of the story—life goes on. He successfully introduces experi-mentation and abstraction to the medium of motion pictures, which usually emphasizes control, structure, and complacency.
Speth’s many unconventional techniques leave a good portion of the interpretation of Alex up to the viewer. Long, static camera shots beautifully capture life happening around New York City: Chinese teenagers playing handball, a subway station during rush hour, a city park on a sunny day. The overall pace and uncertainty about what’s around the corner make this film a pleasure to watch.

Ben Speth, Director
dresden is Ben Speth’s second feature. In 1997, along with Michael Sean Edwards, he directed The A.R.C. Players, a feature-length documentary about a drama therapy program at a residential drug-treatment center in Harlem. His feature credits as director of photography include The Delta by Ira Sachs, which played at Sundance in 1997; Junk by Roddy Bogawa, and Treyf by Cynthia Madansky and Alisa Lebow. He has also worked in theatre, dance, performance art, and the plastic arts.

— Mary Kerr

Screening Details

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