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Articles from 26(2)/2021

Looking for the Essay: A Journey of Rediscovery


Collective Subjectivity in the Essay Film

Mieke BAL

Drifting with Cousins: Mark Cousins and the Psychogeographical Essay Film Abstract:



This article discusses a selection of works by filmmaker Mark Cousins, arguably an under-examined figure with regard to film studies. It is contended that Cousins has fashioned a distinctive approach to the essay film. Adopting a “psychogeographical” perspective, this article will analyse Wh... Read More

Keywords: Essay film, psychogeography, dérive, creative practice

Memory of Berlin: An Accidental Autoethnography



Although the term autobiography features regularly in the essay film literature, autoethnography appears less so. John Burgan made Memory of Berlin (1998) in his thirties, to tell the story of how he was “triggered” by the fall of the Wall in 1989 to search for his birth mother... Read More

Keywords: John Burgan, Memory of Berlin, autoethnography, essay film, research, autobiography

The Essay Film as an Archival Practice for Self-representation



The essay film as a form of expression allows filmmakers to delve into soul searching to elaborate autobiographical representations using experimental devices without the constraints of conventional narrative structures. By placing themselves in the foreground, experimental filmmakers can interrogate the wo... Read More

Keywords: Essay film, autobiography, archive, self-reflexivity, home movies, Chilean cinema, Tales from my Chilhood, Evil Eye

Found Footage and the Construction of the Self: Dream English Kid 1964–1999 AD (Mark Leckey, 2015) and Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream (Frank Beauvais, 2019)



When looking at some recent essay films exploring personal and family stories, one notices that it is quite common and even expected to include personal archives and historical material alongside the primary narration and original footage. What is less common is when the film does not appear to use any orig... Read More

Keywords: First-person filmmaking, found footage, appropriation, individual and collective memories, personally constructed archive, voice-over, Michel Foucault

Individual Testimonies of Trans-individual Crisis: The Covid-19 Confinement Essay Film



The COVID-19 pandemic, and the unprecedented confinement measures it prompted governments to take, has led to a boom of audiovisual testimonies of the numerous facets this global phenomenon has assumed. Some of the testimonies have taken the shape of essay films which embrace the topic of the restrictions i... Read More

Keywords: pandemic media, essay film, carceral experience, (self-)confinement film, lettres de cinéma

Foregrounding the Digital Medium: Self-reference and Metareference in Video Essays

Cristian Eduard DRĂGAN


This article focuses on video essays —understood as that specific subgenre of audio-visual productions that can be considered the main descendent of the essay film. Both are, in a sense, subjective explorations of certain subject matters via cinematic means —with the prime exception that video e... Read More

Keywords: Self-reference, metareference, video essay, essay film, self-representation, medium, medium-awareness, digital video

The Amazed Spectator: An Essay Film Focused on the Viewers

Teresa LIMA


This article intends to identify characteristic traits of the essay film in The Amazed Spectator / O Espectador Espantado (2016), by the Portuguese filmmaker Edgar Pêra. Throughout the analysis, I reflect on how the use of different types of resources—technical (3D), compositio... Read More

Keywords: The Amazed Spectator, essay film, spectatorship, Edgar Pêra, 3D

Thinking Trauma, Essayistically: Configurations of Home, Loss and Memory in Liwaa Yazji’s Haunted (Maskoon, 2014)



Liwaa Yazji’s film Maskoon (Germany/Syria/Lebanon, 2014), internationally known as Haunted, follows nine individuals in the midst of the ongoing civil war in Syria, including a couple trapped in their house surrounded by snipers, a Syrian man of Palestinian descent who has fled to Lebanon, a ... Read More

Keywords: Maskoon/Haunted, essayism, essay film, dialog, Syria, civil war, trauma, memory, home, haunting

Cinematic Dissidence: Copel Moscu’s Essay Subversiveness in Ceaușescu’s Romania



This article explores Copel Moscu’s short essay films Evening Classes / Seraliștii (1982) and A Day Like Any Other / Va veni o zi (1985), analysing how a critical and political perspective was developed by the filmmaker under the inquisitive view of the communist r... Read More

Keywords: essay film, subversiveness, communist censorship, associative montage, self-reference

The Essay as Mode of Expression and the Essayistic Practices in Radu Jude’s Cinema

Doru POP


Like most European national cinemas, the Romanian film industry has developed a strong tendency towards authorship, with many contemporary filmmakers using various forms of expression that represent their personal views about the world, society and humanity. While Romanian cinema did not fully develop its o... Read More

Keywords: Romanian cinema, essay film, essayistic practices, visual essay, essay genre, Radu Jude

World Cinema and the Essay Film: Research into Transnational Modes of Thought and Meaning-making



Review of:
World Cinema and the Essay Film: Transnational Perspectives on a Global Practice, edited by
Brenda Hollweg and Igor Kristić. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 248 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4744-2925-2 (paperback)

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The Audiovisual Essay in the Post-Cinematic Age



Review of:
Beyond the Essay Film: Subjectivity, Textuality and Technology, edited by Julia Vassilieva and Deane Williams. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020, 245 pages. ISBN: 978-94-6372-870-6 (hardback)

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