Guy Ben-Ner's film, Soundtrack, is set on familiar territory, his own kitchen. At various times, Ben-Ner has used his kitchen in order to act out literary epics, notably Moby Dick and Robinson Crusoe. In Soundtrack, he is acting out scenes from the Steven Spielberg film, War of the Worlds. The domestic setting is complemented by another Ben-Ner trope, his own family as protagonists. This time the cast of family members is large and there is a novelty: all the spoken words, as well as the music, are supplied by Spielberg's film. The cast do not so much dubbing as 'budding', to use Ben-Ner's term.
Ben-Ner has filmed family conflict before, as well as his own conflictual relationships, and the kitchen is his chosen location, because the domestic kitchen is an historical locus for drama. There is plenty of drama in Soundtrack, as Ben-Ner's banal preparations for a meal turn into an increasingly hysterical disaster-zone of conflagration and disintegration. The rising panic of the voice-buddied participants, notably Ben-Ner's three children, adds to the disorder bordering on menace. Other filmic references are present, in two key scenes, a cameo appearance by Avi Mograbi, notable Israeli documentary filmmaker, and a segment which mimicks a scene from Luis Bunuel's Un chien andalou, Mograbi's appearance, along with fleeing video footage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, remind us that a war of the worlds is as much territorial as domestic. A snatch of dialogue from Spielberg's film have the children asking if the filmic risk of terrorism in War of the Worlds is the same as 'European terrorism'. "No" replies their father, Ben-Ner.
The fast pace of Soundtrack is allied to superb editing, showcasing the enormous talent of this independent film artist. It is the third occasion in which Gimpel Fils has presented Guy Ben-Ner's films and this current screening should not be missed.
Guy Ben-Ner’s is currently exhibiting a new installation at Manifesta 10, St Petersburg. His solo exhibitions include Spies, Site Gallery, Sheffield, Moby Dick, Museum Kunst der Westküste, Alkersum, Germany, Thursday the 12th, Mass MOCA, North Adams, MA, USA, and Real Life: Ron Mueck and Guy Ben-Ner, Shawinigan Space, National Gallery of Canada, Shawinigan, Canada. He lives and works in Tel Aviv.