Calling all Derridettes: The headiest movie in the annual "Film Comment Selects" is surely The Ister, a three-hour Australian cine-essay inspired by Martin Heidegger's 1942 lecture course on the 19th-century German poet Friedrich Hölderlin's Danubian ode.

David Barison and Daniel Ross's digital-video doc travels upriver past presidential visitations (Romania), bombed bridges (Serbia), Stalin-era steelworks (Hungary), Nazi concentration camps (Mauthausen), and mock classical temples (Bavaria) to the heart of darkness, the Black Forest cabin where Heidegger wrote Being and Time. There is evidently a German term for aquatic road movies—wasserstrasse—but The Ister also offers a stream of consciousness. Three philosophers, including onetime bank robber Bernard Stiegler, and filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg provide commentary on Greek myths, European history, and Heidegger's theory of agribusiness.


The Ister
Directed by David Barison and Daniel Ross
February 13, Walter Reade

You may wonder if the humble DV mini-cam is the technology that enframes the river's essence. Indeed, the onrushing landscape, however despoiled, is a Bazinian counterpoint to the babbling brook of Heideggerian seinundzeitis. The movie's single Sunday-afternoon screening will be followed by a panel discussion.


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