ESSAY FILM FESTIVAL 2020

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Given the current circumstances, we have decided to cancel the Essay Film Festival, due to run 26 March-4 April, with a view to rescheduling the programme at a later date. This applies to all screenings and events due to take place at Birkbeck, ICA, Goethe-Institut, Institut Français, and Close-Up.

Michael Temple, Director, on behalf of Essay Film Festival & Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image

The Essay Film Festival, now in its sixth edition, presents a global range of contemporary and restored essayistic works, each exploring the critical and creative zone of possibilities that lies between experimental and documentary modes of filmmaking.

FULL PROGRAMME HERE

This year’s programme features several key themes and strands:

New work by the Otolith Group and restored essay films by Ruchir Joshi and the Yugantar Collective engage with the cultural history and politics of India, providing imaginative and insightful perspectives on the educational projects of Rabindranath Tagore, the wandering Baul musicians, the changing cities of Ahmedabad and Kolkata, and the political struggles of Indian women. A symposium on the work of author and filmmaker Joshi will take place during the festival with guests from India, France and the USA, while Yugantar member Deepa Dhanraj will join researchers from Berlin Arsenal and Goldsmiths to discuss the restoration of the collective’s films.

From Argentina, France, UK and the Philippines come challenging found footage experiments by Leandro Listorti, Frank Beauvais, Sarah Wood and John Torres, which critically examine the status and uses of images today while transforming them into moving and fascinating new creations. A student-led research workshop with guest filmmakers will analyse the theory and practice of found footage in the digital age.

US artists Garrett Bradley and Cauleen Smith investigate and celebrate the depth and diversity of African-American lives, past and present, with works that, like all good essays, both question the viewer and invite us into an ongoing conversation. Both Bradley and Smith will give lecture-workshops about their practice alongside the screenings of their films.

Developing the theme of ‘the living archive’, a series of events will address the cultural politics of film restoration, featuring works by Jocelyne Saab, Mostafa Derkaoui, Ingemo Engström and Gerhard Theuring, in addition to the restored films of Ruchir Joshi and the Yugantar Collective.

Finally, Israeli filmmaker Tamar Rachovsky will join the festival to present and discuss Home in E Major, which looks at complex questions of identity and belonging through the deceptively simple lens of the diary film.

Simple and complex, contingent and reflective, hybrid and critical, the essay film that we celebrate at our festival is a constantly renewed invitation to engage with the world and to see it in new ways.

Michael Temple (Director), on behalf of the Essay Film Festival group: Matthew Barrington (Manager), Kieron Corless, Nicolas Freeman (CHASE intern), Catherine Grant, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Janet McCabe, Raquel Morais, and Laura Mulvey. 

The Essay Film Festival is a collaboration between the ICA and Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, with support from the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership.


Essay Film Festival 2020 Programme

SESSION ONE: YUGANTAR FILM COLLECTIVE

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Thursday 26 March, 18:00-21:00, Birkbeck Cinema 

Is This Just a Story? Celebrating the Yugantar Film Collective

More information here

SESSION TWO: FOUND FOOTAGE RESEARCH EVENT

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Friday 27 March, 11:00-18:00, Birkbeck Cinema 

Archive/Fictions: Found Footage and the Essay Film

More information here

SESSION THREE: OTOLITH GROUP/O HORIZON

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Friday 27 March, 20:30-22:30, ICA 

Essay film exploring the educational philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore

More information here

SESSION FOUR: TORRES/LISTORTI

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Saturday 28 March, 18:00-19:30, ICA 

UK premieres of found footage works by Leandro Listorti and John Torres

More information here

SESSION FIVE: RUCHIR JOSHI/ELEVEN MILES

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Saturday 28 March, 20:00-23:00, ICA 

UK premiere of restored classic Indian essay film

More information here

SESSION SIX: RICHTER/BEAUVAIS

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Sunday 29 March, 18:00-20:00, ICA 

Double bill of experimental works by Hans Richter and Frank Beauvais exploring the personal and the everyday

More information here

SESSION SEVEN: RUCHIR JOSHI/SHORT FILMS & CONVERSATION

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Sunday 29 March, 20:30-22:30, ICA 

Ruchir Joshi: short film programme and conversation

More information here

SESSION EIGHT: RUCHIR JOSHI/SYMPOSIUM

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Monday 30 March, 10:00-19:00, Birkbeck Cinema 

Ruchir Joshi Symposium: Essays in Text and Image

More information here

SESSION NINE: TAMAR RACHKOVSKY/HOME IN E MAJOR

Tuesday 31 March, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema 

A first-person essay film about unlikely friendships and what it means to find a home

More information here

SESSION TEN: SARAH WOOD/SHORT FILMS PROGRAMME

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Tuesday 31 March, 20:55-23:00, ICA 

To bring the world into the world: a programme by Sarah Wood

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SESSION ELEVEN: WORKSHOP WITH GARRETT BRADLEY

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Wednesday 1 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema

Workshop with Garrett Bradley

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SESSION TWELVE: GARRETT BRADLEY/AMERICA AND OTHER WORKS

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Wednesday 1 April, 21:00-23:00, ICA

UK premiere of America and conversation with Trevor Mathison

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SESSION THIRTEEN: WORKSHOP WITH CAULEEN SMITH

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Thursday 2 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema

An illustrated lecture by Cauleen Smith

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SESSION FOURTEEN: DRYLONGSO

Thursday 2 April, 6.00 -7:30, Close Up Cinema

16mm Screening of the recently released debut film by Cauleen Smith

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SESSION FIFTEEN: CAULEEN SMITH/SHORTS PROGRAMME

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Thursday 2 April, 21:00-23:00, ICA 

Cauleen Smith: short film programme and conversation

More information here

SESSION SIXTEEN: TRIBUTE TO JOCELYNE SAAB

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Friday 3 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema

A tribute to the work of Jocelyne Saab presented by Mathilde Rouxel

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SESSION SEVENTEEN: ABOUT SOME MEANINGLESS EVENTS

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Friday 3 April, 8:15, French Institute

UK premiere of restored Moroccan essay film banned forty years ago

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SESSION EIGHTEEN: TRANSIT/ESCAPE ROUTE TO MARSEILLE

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Saturday 4 April, 14:30-19:30, Goethe-Institut

UK premiere of restoration of Escape Route to Marseille adapted from the novel Transit

More information here