Coronavirus Updates: USC  |  SCA

DAMNATION by Janice Lee: An Ekphrastic Response Inspired By Béla Tarr

October 29, 2013, 7:00 P.M.

The Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre, SCA 112, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

The USC School of Cinematic Arts invites you and a guest to attend a special presentation and discussion of the book:

Damnation by Janice Lee: An Ekphrastic Response Inspired By Béla Tarr

To include readings by Janice Lee, film clips from Béla Tarr's Damnation & Sátántangó, and a panel discussion on ekphrasis, obsession, Béla Tarr, and the long take with Jon Wagner, Jared Woodland, & Rebekah Weikel.
7:00 P.M. on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013
The Albert and Dana Broccoli Theatre, SCA 112
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

About Damnation

No technique of cinema is as royal and as risky as the Long Take—audacious in its promise of unified time and space, terrifying in what that might imply. Inspired by the films of Hungarian auteur Bela Tarr, famous for his long take, and the novels and screenplays of Tarr’s great collaborator László Krasznahorkai, Janice Lee’s Damnation is both an ekphrasis and confession, an obsessive response, a poetic meditation and mirror on time; time that ruthlessly pulls forward with our endurance; time unleashed from chronology and prediction; time which resides in a dank, drunk, sordid hiss of relentless static. As declared in Tarr’s film Damnation, “All stories are about disintegration.”


Praise for Damnation

"That a film or a series of films is inspirative of a literary work of the most poetic and sophisticated kind is a rare phenomenon. Janice Lee's book is the meeting point of two sensitivities of the finest. One is for the most desperate conditions of life in its objectivity, the other is for the most sublime, even divine spiritual reflection of this life. Lee's Damnation is a beautiful variation on these themes that are at the depth of every film of Béla Tarr."     

-- ANDRÁS BÁLINT KOVÁCS, Author of The Cinema of Béla Tarr: The Circle Closes

"Like its image of a furtive Holy Book that drives its bearers mad, Janice Lee’s Damnation hovers with remarkable grace between the sublime states of faith and terror. The graceful immediacy with which she navigates frame after frame of struggling humans caught up in the veils of darkness, thunder and silence, and moral duty bears resemblance to Saramago’s The Cave or McCarthy’s Child of God, though perhaps even more haunted, stripped to bone. “Anything that God takes part in is the most horrific thing you’ve ever imagined,” she writes, and then holds the reader in that vast anticipation, with mesmerizing results."

-- BLAKE BUTLER, Author of Scorch Atlas and There Is No Year

"Damnation is a crucial node in contemporary ekphrasis, an inspired contribution to the art of slow seeing, and a document of cinematic obsession. Here Janice Lee conjures an alien, allegorical world that hovers just next to ours, a world which both repels and invites our visitation. She seeds her scenes with countless knockout sentences, whose lush music complicates her project’s austerity."

-- MAGGIE NELSON, Author of Bluets and The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning

About the Guests

JANICE LEE is a writer, editor, and scholar living in Los Angeles. She is the author of KEROTAKIS (Dog Horn Press), Daughter (Jaded Ibis), and Damnation (Penny-Ante Editions). She is Co-Editor of the online journal [out of nothing], Reviews Editor at HTMLGIANT and currently teaches at California Institute of the Arts. She can be found online at

JON WAGNER, PhD, is a Professor of Critical Studies at California Institute of the Arts and a Visiting Professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. He is a translator, poet, and media scholar whose books include Television at the Movies; Cinematic and Critical Responses to American Broadcasting (Continuum) and Andrée Chedid: Fugitive Suns; Selected Poetry (Green Integer). He is currently completing a book on the French poets Yves Bonnefoy and Saint-John Perse.

REBEKAH WEIKEL founded the journal "Penny-Ante" in 2006, which saw three issues. In 2012, Penny-Ante was reformed as a small press and has since produced books and other forms of media under the series title "Success and Failure." Along with her publishing efforts, she has produced works of writing, sound, art and film. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

JARED WOODLAND lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on a novel about animality, narrative, and the Midwest. His short fiction appears in [out of nothing], and he writes reviews for HTMLGiant. With Janice Lee, he is writing a book on the long take in Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 6:30 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago