In the epigraph to his new book, writer, film programmer, and performance artist Stanley Schtinter succinctly describes his project: “Last Movies is a dedication to the absence of choice, to chance. If there is any bias in the cast-list it is a bias coded into the telling of the first century of cinema (that I parasitise); the result, a forensic of the last earthly dance of a star, and the pause they took (if indeed they did) to catch a movie.” 

Envisioned as both a writing project and an epic durational film program, Last Movies explores the (deceptively) morbid subject of the final films watched by a selection of 20th-century luminaries. Delving into the lives and ultimate viewings of figures ranging from Franz Kafka to John F. Kennedy to Kurt Cobain to members of the Heaven’s Gate cult, the book maps a strange and surprising cultural history from a seemingly arbitrary scatter plot.

Film Comment editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute sat down with Schtinter and critic Erika Balsom, who wrote the book’s foreword, to discuss the many layers of Last Movies, how the project is actually life-affirming, why the author dressed up like a cop for a recent Q&A in London, and much more.

Last Movies is available now from Tenement Press.

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