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13 Lakes
Directed by James Benning
Running time 135 minutes

13 Lakes is a 2004 16mm film by American independent filmmaker James Benning. It is an instance of slow cinema, placing emphasis on introspection and contemplation.


The film is 135 minutes long and consists of 13 ten-minute static shots of lakes from throughout the United States. There is no conventional plot, characters or dialogue. The composition has been described as "symmetrical, minimalistic and repetitive", encouraging "sensory and sensuous engagement".

In several cases, boats can be seen and sounds such as waves, motors, bird calls, thunder and rain can be heard. Benning has said that he does not intend the work to be about environmentalism.


According to the credits, the lakes are:

  1. Jackson Lake - Wyoming
  2. Moosehead Lake - Maine
  3. Salton Sea - California
  4. Lake Superior - bordered by Ontario, Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Michigan
  5. Lake Winnebago - Wisconsin
  6. Lake Okeechobee - Florida
  7. Lower Red Lake - Minnesota
  8. Lake Pontchartrain - Louisiana
  9. Great Salt Lake - Utah
  10. Lake Iliamna - Alaska
  11. Lake Powell - Utah & Arizona
  12. Crater Lake - Oregon
  13. Lake Oneida - New York


The film was added to the US National Film Registry as a "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant film" in 2014.

  • 13 Lakes essay by Scott McDonald on National Film Registry site
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