Documentary Film Essay

Documentary Film Essay-58
Rascaroli’s dismissal of Moore underestimates how his blunt-force polemics elicit (and even solicit) an active response from the audience, stimulating a critical engagement with the film and its political discourse, a strategy akin to the incendiary film essays of Santiago Álvarez (featured in the BFI series).Richter’s definition doesn’t help much to differentiate the essay form from much of experimental cinema.On this score the cause célèbre is Chris Marker, who figures prominently in the theorising done to date by essay film scholars such as Rascaroli, Nora Alter and Timothy Corrigan, as well as in Andrew Tracy’s feature article on the subject in the August 2013 issue of .

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Minding the as-yet-unfulfilled potential of critical online media, I take great interest in the BFI Southbank’s August S&S Deep Focus series on essay filmmaking as a much-needed occasion to reflect on the significance of this word ‘essay’ in relation to film and video.My own entrance into this field was an organic synthesis of my backgrounds as a film critic and a filmmaker, two modes that had competed with each other in my mind until I started to pursue the possibilities of critically exploring cinema through the medium itself.This practice is readily possible in an age when digital technology enables virtually anyone with a computer (not even a video camera, as images are overly abundant and accessible) to produce media with nearly as much ease as it is to consume it.Therefore we would like to draw your attention to our House Rules.In a world bedazzled by intractable images, do we need the essay film now more than ever? Lee weighs up this distinctively self-aware, searching form of cinema through both video and text–Sight and Sound The Essay Film: Some Thoughts of Discontent from Kevin B. I cannot recall how the term ‘video essay’ came to be the adopted nomenclature for the ever-increasing output of online videos produced over the past few years by an ever-growing range of self-appointed practitioners (including myself).Film scholars have been among the first to seize on these resources for teaching.Teachers used them to show formal innovation, combination of techniques, and the way in which films deal with questions of identity.But there is no question that over the accumulation of scenes, a socially critical discourse emerges, in a mode that’s highly relevant to critical (or uncritical) media today: the film plays like an extended of real-life scripted events.In his own way, Farocki’s work fulfills another wish for the essay film expressed by Tracy that I share, to see the image “as part of a matrix of meaning that extends beyond the screen.” This takes me back to this article’s starting point in the contemporary morass of online clip compilations and fan tributes that pass as essays, and what alternative mode of media could place us in a more critically aware position with regard to how media functions in our lives, where it comes from, what larger forces are behind its dissemination and our consumption of them.He once described his practice as “images commenting on images”, an analytic technique that, through its resourcefulness and simplicity, frequently yields eloquence.He is represented in the BFI series by , a perversely inspired selection, given how much more overtly essayistic some of Farocki’s other films are compared to this Wiseman-esque observational chronicle of behavioural training sessions (birthing lessons, police drills, a striptease rehearsal).


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