Restored by Lightbox Film Center, ‘The Innerview’ reemerges in Rotterdam

February 8, 2023

The Innerview, written, produced and directed by Richard Beymer, is the second film to receive a complete restoration through Lightbox Film Center’s burgeoning preservation program. The 1973 avant-garde film, an unclassifiable and thought-provoking documentary, was digitally restored in partnership with Northeast Historic Film, the National Film Preservation Foundation and Corpus Fluxus, with generous support from Ron and Suzanne Naples.

The film returned to the screen for the first time since the mid-1970s as part of the International Film Festival Rotterdam in early February. Beymer’s career in film is an intriguing one. After starring in several of Hollywood’s prestige productions, namely, 1959’s The Diary of Anne Frank and 1961’s West Side Story—in which he appeared as Tony opposite Natalie Wood’s Maria—Beymer quit acting to focus instead on making his own films. The first among those was the award-winning A Regular Bouquet: Mississippi Summer, which Beymer made in 1964 to capture the voter registration efforts of Black volunteers during the Mississippi Summer Project. The film offers a rare and unflinching portrait of the American south during the Civil Rights era.

The Innerview represents Beymer at the height of his art. The film, which features found footage presented as a stream-of-consciousness assemblage, has remained in a state of flux for nearly 50 years. Beymer continues to work and rework it, bleaching segments of the original 16mm footage or inserting new footage of different formats. The version screened in Rotterdam is the oldest-known iteration and is understood to be the closest to the film’s original form. Beymer remains at work on a director’s cut, which will be featured in the 2024 Rotterdam festival. Both versions will be screened at Lightbox later this year.

The Innerview is a thoroughly remarkable, dazzlingly complex achievement that must surely rank among the major works of the American avant-garde cinema,” the Los Angeles Times noted in its 1973 review of the film. “Indeed, The Innerview celebrates the miraculous, infinite resources of the cinema itself.”

In the early ’90s, Beymer returned to acting to take on the role of Ben Horne in David Lynch’s cult hit Twin Peaks and the show’s 2017 reboot. His more recent films include 2010’s The Passing of a Saint, which documents the funeral rights of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who developed and introduced the world to transcendental meditation, and 2014’s It’s a Beautiful World, a chronicle of his trip to India with Lynch. In addition, Beymer continues to write, sculpt and paint at his Iowa studio.