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River of Fundament

Friday, December 4 - Thursday, December 10, 2015

A film by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler

Set across the American landscape, the film RIVER OF FUNDAMENT is an epic story of regeneration and rebirth. Loosely based on the 1983 Norman Mailer novel Ancient Evenings, with an ancient Egyptian protagonist who sought reincarnation three times in the hope of achieving immortality, RIVER OF FUNDAMENT borrows its structure from Mailer’s text, corresponding to the seven stages the Egyptian soul undergoes in its journey toward new life. Conceived as a nontraditional opera written in collaboration with longtime collaborator Jonathan Bepler, the film combines documentary footage of three live acts performed outdoors in Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York with live-action cinema largely set in a careful recreation of Mailer’s Brooklyn brownstone apartment, where the late author’s wake is underway.

Imagined as a lavish dinner party attended by New York’s cultural literati, the wake takes place inside the Mailer apartment as it is ferried down the river. Intercut with scenes from the outdoor live acts, the story of Norman’s three-time journey along the river of fundament parallels that of the automobile, and is equally populated by the incestuous characters belonging to the myth of Osiris. As the story of Norman’s lives is recounted to him by an elder pharaoh, Norman’s widow and wives contemplate the soul’s journey as a series of recitatives, quoting passages from Ancient Evenings, as well as from American authors Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William S. Burroughs.

RIVER OF FUNDAMENT shows in three acts, with each section separated by a 20-minute intermission. The three parts should be seen in order, but not necessarily in one sitting.

Separate admission for each section, or purchase a series pass ($40 general admission, $25 IFC Center members), which allows you to select one ticket for each of three parts of RIVER OF FUNDAMENT. You can make these selections in person at the box office. The series pass will also include a free copy of the 32-page RIVER OF FUNDAMENT program, which is being created exclusively for this IFC Center engagement.

Click here to purchase a series pass online

Use the series pass to see the complete work — either in one day, or at any showtimes throughout the week. The shows are scheduled to make it easy to spread out a complete screening across three successive days:

See all three parts by attending the 7:20pm shows on Fri Dec 4 (Act 1), Sat Dec 5 (Act 2) and Sun Dec 6 (Act 3).

See all three parts by attending the 815pm shows on Mon Dec 7 (Act 1), Tue Dec 8 (Act 2) and Wed Dec 9 (Act 3).

Note that the three parts will always be shown in order, so there will be at least one opportunity each day to see the complete RIVER OF FUNDAMENT, as a single-day marathon experience. All individual showtimes are listed below, but, for your convenience, here is a list of each opportunity to see all three parts in a row in one sitting:

Fri Dec 4 starting with Act 1 at 1:05pm, or 7:20pm

Sat Dec 5 at 10:50am, or 5:05pm

Sun Dec 6 at 2:55pm (includes Matthew Barney in person at end of Act 3)

Mon Dec 7 at 2:00pm

Tue Dec 8 at 11:45am, or 6:00pm

Wed Dec 9 at 3:50pm

Thu Dec 10 at 11:45am, or 6:00pm

Series Films