Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 3pm
Peter Wollen's Friendship's Death

361 Stagg Street, Suite 407, Brooklyn

Introduced by Audrey Wollen

Friendship's Death, Peter Wollen, 1987, digital projection, 78 mins

Friendship’s Death is the theorist Peter Wollen’s only solo feature, starring Tilda Swinton in one of her first speaking roles, after her 1986 debut in Derek Jarman’s Caravaggio. The film tells the story of a robot from outer space named Friendship (Swinton, in the first of many android-esque roles to come) who, intending to make first contact with MIT, instead crash-lands in Amman, Jordan during Black September, the armed conflict between the Jordanian military and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1970. There, she meets a jaded Glaswegian journalist named Sullivan, played by Bill Paterson, and they take shelter from the civil war in two adjacent hotel rooms. Friendship, a pre-programmed humanist, discovers the practice of her theory in bits and pieces, through their earnest discussions, some assorted wind-up toys, the Arsenal/Hotspurs game on TV, the violent histories of colonialism lived out around them, and the unceasing bravery of the Palestinians. Sullivan eventually manages to procure travel papers for both of them, but Friendship decides the most human thing to do, the most ethical, is to stay and join the Palestinian armed resistance. Sullivan is shocked: "You want to become a martyr. The first machine martyr… I don’t doubt that the Palestinians have been wronged. I admire their struggle. But it is not your struggle, whoever you may be.” Friendship responds with words painfully apt for this moment: “I can make it mine.”

Wollen, like Sullivan, was also in Amman during Black September, working as a journalist. Like Sullivan, he never returned. But nearly twenty years later he made this film, a speculative memory. It was Wollen’s first feature, and his last. For the past thirty or so years, Friendship’s Death has been difficult to find and see, suppressed, until very recently, for its explicit revolutionary politics, its uncomplicated support of the Palestinian right to resist. In a time of extreme McCarthyism and public punishment for creative workers who express solidarity with Palestine, it is essential to remember the efforts of previous generations who let their political commitments expand their field of vision, building worlds, fictional or otherwise, against the genocidal logic of Zionism.

- AW

Tickets - Pay what you can ($10 suggested donation), available at door. All proceeds from the box office will be donated to Palestine Legal.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 2:30pm. No entry 10 minutes after start of show.