Anthology Film Archives

SUSPENSION (Simón Uribe) + Highway Films

September 9 – October 6

Simón Uribe

2019, 75 min, digital. In Spanish with English subtitles.

In partnership with Icarus Films, Anthology hosts the virtual theatrical premiere run of the new documentary SUSPENSION, beginning on Wednesday, September 9.

SUSPENSION takes as its subject the San Francisco-Mocoa highway in Colombia, where the Andes mountains meet the Amazon jungle. The main link between these two cities, it may be the most dangerous stretch of road in the world. Shrines dot the route, marking the spots where many have died. A decades-long effort to build a new road is a case study in what one engineer terms “political madness.” Animated promotional videos of the route show gleaming bridges, elevated highways soaring over the rainforest, and crisp cars. Meanwhile, what little actual progress is made comes in the form of small crews, some hacking away with machetes.

We watch as one crew works on a bridge literally to nowhere – painstakingly spreading and raking concrete on a structure whose very construction is an exercise in futility. After they run out of money and abandon it, the bridge becomes a magnet for visitors taking selfies and enjoying the view as they lean on the gleaming yellow guardrails. Bikers roar through the “road closed” gates, pulling wheelies on the empty structure. The anti-erosion walls built to protect from landslides become a combination playground and climbing wall for the young people scaling them and sliding back down.

Geographer Simón Uribe’s debut feature places the history of a crucial piece of infrastructure at the center of an ecological drama in which humans are at the mercy of mudslides, torrential rains and volatile rivers. SUSPENSION is a cinematic illustration of humankind’s struggle to control nature.

We will supplement the new feature film with encore screenings of several other highway-themed films from our 2019 “Infrastructure on Film” series: Hartmut Bitomsky’s REICHSAUTOBAHN (1986, 90 min), and Dominic Angerame’s short films, PREMONITION (1995, 10 min) and IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN EVENTS (1997, 23 min). For more detailed descriptions of these films, see below. And to watch the films themselves, click on the titles above.

SUSPENSION is available here for a streaming rental fee of $10. AFA Members can watch for a discounted price of $7; members, please email for the discount code.

Director Simón Uribe will take part in a virtual Q&A on Thursday, October 1 at 7pm EDT; access details coming soon!


Additional films:

Available for a streaming rental fee of $6!
Hartmut Bitomsky
1986, 90 min, 35mm-to-digital. In German with English subtitles. Courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek.
“‘Where Germany ends,’ Hitler once said, ‘the potholes begin.’ And so he set about engineering the massive public works project known as the Autobahn. Hailed as a hedge against unemployment, a stimulant for a sluggish economy, a boon for car owners, and an efficient network for military transport, REICHSAUTOBAHN forwards the notion that from its conception the Autobahn ‘wasn’t to be just a road, it had to be a cultural institution.’ Accordingly, Bitomsky states that the Nazis didn’t develop the idea of the uberhighway, they simply formulated the aesthetics of the monumental road. REICHSAUTOBAHN drives headlong into the cultural politics of a ‘road without obstacles,’ the perfect symbol for a nation seeking extreme unification.” –PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE

Streaming for free on Anthology’s Vimeo page!
Dominic Angerame

1995, 10 min, 16mm-to-digital
The San Francisco Embarcadero Freeway comes to life in this elegy for modernity. The Freeway was deemed a triumph of engineering, a monument for human inventiveness. With the 1989 earthquake, however, the freeway was severely damaged and with it all the industrial-technological promises it held. PREMONITION shows the situation before the crisis, a deceptive moment of industrial harmony.

“The concrete world of the American infrastructure and its demise are made strangely poetic in this expressionist documentary which shows the vacant San Francisco Embarcadero Freeway before its destruction. In an atmosphere of daylight, mystery, Angerame sows inklings and reveals the past encircled by the future. Lyrical, ominous, comic, PREMONITION works on the attentive viewer like a remembrance of something that is to happen, a silent, telling daydream.” –Barbara Jaspersen Voorhees

Streaming for free on Anthology’s Vimeo page!
Dominic Angerame

1997, 23 min, 16mm-to-digital
After the 1989 quake the city of San Francisco decided to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway once and for all. The climate of dread evoked by PREMONITION is followed by a primitive yet seductive “tableau” of twisted metal. The bulldozers are prehistoric monsters that tear bits of metal and stone from the vulnerable concrete. Angerame films the spectacle in extremely precise shots that surgically unveil our obsession with destruction and technological decline.

“[A]n exquisite black-and-white surrealist depiction of the Embarcadero Freeway demolition, in which dinosaur-like tractors gnash at an organic tangle of steel reinforcements. Inanimate objects and heavy machinery become living metaphors for generation through the director’s signature use of high-contrast, time-lapse, and double exposure cinematography.” –Silke Tudor, SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY

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