20 Jul 2017 – 20 Jul 2017

PNI, London

Johan Grimonprez

Movie Night #2: dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y

Johan Grimonprez, dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, 1997

Where once [history] was something one read about, inspected through stone monuments and written documents, drew lessons from or tried to leave behind, it now appears to exist in suspended animation, neither exactly 'behind' us, nor part of our present, but shadowing us rather like a parallel world, hyper-real and unreal at the same time. 

Thomas Elsaesser


Johan Grimonprez’ dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y is one of the most impressive video essays of recent years. This disquieting reflection on contemporary history (that eerily foreshadowed 9/11) casts an eye on the post war historical landscape, as seen through the lens of airplane hijacking. 

Combining archival footage, television advertisements and home video, dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y traces the history of hijacking, starting with the first televised hijackings of the 1960’s, where the romanticised revolutionary figure of the terrorist-come-freedom-fighter takes centre stage. This historical trajectory culminates with the anonymous parcel bomb of 1997, in which the terrorist has altogether disappeared from view. 

Enriched by excerpts from Don DeLillo’s novels Mao II and White Noise and an eclectic soundtrack devised by David Shea, the film examines television and the media's role in the construction of truth (or untruth), making it of increased importance and relevance when considering today’s political landscape.

dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y will be the first in a two-part series of screenings at Project Native Informant.


We would like to thank Johan Grimonprez for allowing us to screen the film and making the event possible.