Peter Mettler's The End of Time

Acid trips, cave paintings, airport evangelists, slot machines, techno music, laughter therapy, tar sands and more will take center stage as Film Society of Lincoln Center spotlights Canadian artist Peter Mettler, November 8 – 12. His new film The End of Time will also open theatrically at Film Society on November 29.

The five-day retrospective, Peter Mettler: Pictures of Light, will spotlight the three decade career of Mettler who works in both Canada and Switzerland. Mettler, who will be in attendance during the series, melds intuitive-associative processes with drama, essay, experiment and documentation. His films and collaborations hold a unique position within cinema and other disciplines, such as live image/sound mixing performance, photography and installations. Mettler's films explore themes foreshadowed even in his earliest works—the wonder and intrigue of human perception, technology’s ability to both liberate and enslave, the authenticity of experience through the illusion of cinema, the ephemeral essence that exists beyond a photographed subject, and the ease at which reality slips into abstraction.

His filmography includes Scissere (1982), Picture of Light (1994), Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002), Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands (2009) and the upcoming release, The End of Time (2012), which will have its New York premiere as part of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival.

Petter Mettler's Petropolis

“Peter Mettler is one of the most original artists working today,” said Dennis Lim, Film Society's Director of Cinematheque Programming. “Few filmmakers are as attuned to the wonders of existence, or to the sensual and perceptual possibilities of cinema. We are pleased to welcome him for these rare screenings of his most mind-expanding films.”

Mettler has collaborated with several notable artists including adapting Robert Lepage's monumental theater piece Tectonic Plates for the screen. He's been cinematographer on several works with fellow Canadian Atom Egoyan as well as creative consultant and cinematographer for Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes and the narrator of Peter Liechti’s The Sound of Insects. He's also worked with musicians Jim O’Rourke, Fred Frith, Richie Hawtin, Gabriel Scotti; with writers Michael Ondaajte, and Peter Weber; anthropologist Jeremy Narby; artist/collector Andreas Zuest; and dancer/choreographer Andrea Nann.

He regularly performs together with guitarist and improviser Fred Frith, and has performed to compositions of George Crumb and Shostakovitch, as well as alongside musicians Biosphere, Murcof, Monolake, and many others.

Peter Mettler: Pictures of Light takes place November 8 – 12.

Peter Mettler's Gambling, Gods, and LSD

Full Lineup:

Balifilm + Plastikman in Detroit + Mixxa Excerpts
Peter Mettler, 1997 + 2013, Switzerland/Canada; 90m
Music and film, or film as music, alongside an exploration of the frontiers of improvisation, have been defining characteristics for Mettler both in documentary field work and in the recent culmination of live image-sound mixing performance. Mettler will present a selection of shorts and excerpts including Balifilm, a musical diary and homage to a culture of nature and creativity, scenes from Plastikman in Detroit, on the influential techno artist, and excerpts of musician/filmmaker improvisations using a specialized software called MIXXA.
Sunday, November 10, 6:30pm
Director Peter Mettler in attendance

The End of Time
Peter Mettler, 2012, Switzerland/Canada, 35mm; 114m
“Time means we are,” one subject tells us midway through Mettler’s latest globe-hopping, mind-bending essay film. It’s also what musicians manipulate when they let one note follow another; what a lone Hawaiian resists by living in a freestanding house surrounded by active lava flows; what nuclear physicists split in Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider; and what we watch when we go to the movies. And the end of time? That, Mettler suggests, has to be seen to be believed—in this case, by way of a bravura finale inspired by the director’s experiments with live image mixing. With its stunning footage, diverse subject matter, and surprising associations, The End of Time is one of Mettler’s most accomplished reflections on humanity’s place within an unpredictable world. A co-presentation with Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival. A First Run Features release.
Saturday, November 9, 6:30pm – LOCATION: Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street
Director Peter Mettler in attendance

Gambling, Gods, and LSD
Peter Mettler, 2002, Switzerland/Canada, 35mm; 180m
Acid trips, cave paintings, airport evangelists, slot machines, techno music, laughter therapy, electro simulation chairs, mystically-minded Swiss biochemists with Spinozan theories of oneness and unity… Gambling, Gods and LSD remains Mettler’s most exhaustive investigation into the human drive for transcendence. He encounters subjects who seek pleasure so that they might move beyond it, subjects who avoid pleasure for the same reason, subjects who gorge, deprive, deify, and debase themselves. All share a common dissatisfaction with their present circumstances, a longing to cheat death and/or conquer life. The resulting film is a fascinating, globe-spanning study of the many varieties of religious experience.
Friday, November 8, 7pm
Director Peter Mettler in attendance

Peter Mettler's Picture of Light

Manufactured Landscapes
Jennifer Baichwal, 2006, Canada, 35mm; 90m
Stunningly shot in super-16mm by Mettler, Manufactured Landscape is both an absorbing portrait of the celebrated photographer Edward Burtynsky, who specializes in large-scale studies of industrial vistas, and a thoughtful exploration of the aesthetics and social and spiritual dimensions of globalization today. Director Jennifer Baichwal follows Burtynsky to China and Bangladesh, focusing on the human cogs in the machine by contrasting Burtynsky’s epic photographs with the tedium the workers endure and the sometimes toxic and alienating impact of globalization on the very people the transformations are supposed to benefit most.
Tuesday, November 12, 9pm
Director Peter Mettler in attendance

Petropolis + Eastern Avenue
Peter Mettler, 1985 + 2009, Switzerland/Canada, 101m
A travel diary film, Eastern Avenue collects Mettler’s impressions of Switzerland, Berlin and Portugal, shot during the spring of 1983. Organized more or less chronologically, it’s a film of small details, fleeting associations and brief epiphanies, a record of what it’s like to find yourself in a place, and a state of mind, where every change in the weather and every unfamiliar sight registers with special clarity. The film will be preceded by Petropolis, which takes a sweeping view—shot from a moving helicopter—of Canada’s sprawling, unpopulated Alberta tar sands in 2009: vast swaths of empty space cut through by oil flows and neighbored by a massive industrial center-slash-oil refinery. It portrays the close, fragile bonds between people and the natural world.
Friday, November 8, 4:30pm
Tuesday, November 12, 6:30pm
Director Peter Mettler in attendance on Nov 12

Picture of Light
Peter Mettler, 1994, Switzerland/Canada, 35mm; 83m
In the early ’90s, Mettler embarked with a small crew on a 1,000-mile journey by train in the hopes of filming the unfilmable: the elusive, majestic Northern Lights. In Picture of Light, the director pairs footage of the phenomenon itself—deep greens, blinding whites, shimmering, dancing streaks, wisps and rays, all captured at a mere three frames-per-second—with his own voice-over reflections, interviews with villagers living under the Lights in a remote Manitoba town, and dispatches from astronauts stationed in the (comparatively) far reaches of space. As the film goes on, it starts to question its own intent: can you record the texture of an experience so immediate and ephemeral? Should you?
Friday, November 8, 2:30pm
Sunday, November 10, 9:00pm
Director Peter Mettler in attendance on Nov 10