ESSAY FILM FESTIVAL 2017

A CRITICAL EYE

FOR CRITICAL TIMES

“For it is the critical faculty that invents fresh forms” (Oscar Wilde)


24TH MARCH TO 1ST APRIL

Full programme details can be found here.

The essay film is doubly an act of criticism. It engages critically with the forms of cinema and at the same time casts a critical eye on the world that cinema inhabits.

The selection of films for this year’s edition of the Essay Film Festival showcases a striking, inspirational diversity of cutting-edge practice and charged political critique from around the globe, encompassing video-essay activism, documents of war’s impact, historical reconstruction, poetry as anti-colonial gesture, self-portraiture, the diary form, found footage historiography, and meditations on landscape and the often bloody histories layered and rooted therein.

Coursing through the entire programme is a keenly felt apprehension of how the present connects with the past, how the individual connects with the social body, and how seeing is inflected by power and ideology – preoccupations that seem especially urgent and pertinent at this troubled juncture. 

We are particularly delighted and honoured to welcome the celebrated director and cinematographer Babette Mangolte to the festival for two special screenings of her essay work. Born in France but resident in the USA for many years, Mangolte’s unique body of work stretches back to the mid-1970s and incorporates reflections on her own processes in relation to capturing human subjects and landscapes on film.

We are also thrilled to welcome another veteran filmmaker, Jocelyne Saab, who will screen her fabled Beirut trilogy, shot in the 1970s and 80s, which documents not only the destruction wrought by war on the city where she was born, but also the resilience and spirit of its citizens. The poet Etel Adnan sums up the trilogy thus: “Jocelyne has instinctively grasped the essence of this conflict. This is a rare body of work, of prime importance for the history of Lebanon and beyond.”

Other filmmaker guests who will present and discuss their work in detail include Deborah Stratman, Zoe Beloff, Andrés di Tella, Ehsan Khoshbakht, and George Clark – all artists for whom the essayistic form enables a unique reflection on the social and political context in which film and reality intertwine and interact.

There will also be two UK premieres of great significance: Tongpan is a hugely important film in Thai cinema history, a collective endeavour that restages the debates between peasants and intellectuals about the controversial building of a dam in 1970s Thailand; and the recent festival hit Le Moulin, directed by Huang Ya-Li, which looks at the cultural and political history of Taiwan under Japanese colonial rule from the 1930s to the 1950s through the prism of a group of dissenting artists and poets.

Rounding things off are three special-focus curated events. Perfidious Albion is curated by Catherine Grant and Sarah Wood (two of whose films will be screened) and assesses Britain’s historical reputation for treachery; Kevin B. Lee screens and presents, alongside his own work, a variety of recent video-essay works that explore the dynamics of film criticism and political activism; and students and staff from the Bartlett School of Architecture showcase essayistic film works integrated into architectural research and practice.

Finally, in collaboration with the Goethe Institute, film scholar Volker Pantenburg will host three sessions devoted to the rich vein of essay films made in the context of West German television in the 1970s, including films by Harun Farocki and Ingemo Engström, and a discussion with Werner Dütsch.

We look forward to welcoming you to this year’s Essay Film Festival – please read on to discover more information about the sessions at the ICA, Birkbeck Cinema, and the Goethe Institute.

On behalf of the Essay Film Festival,

Michael Temple, Matthew Barrington, Azmina Abdulla, Kieron Corless, Catherine Grant, Janet McCabe, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Laura Mulvey, and Treasa O’Brien.

Programme 2017

Session #1:  327 Notebooks + Filmmaker in conversation

Friday 24 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

6:00-8:30 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]

Filmmaker Andrés Di Tella will be in conversation with John Kraniauskas (Birkbeck).


Session #2: Thinking Cinema on Television : Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), ca. 1975 (SESSION 1)

Saturday 25 March 2017

1:00–5:00 | Birkbeck Cinema | [Book here]


Session #3: The Camera: Je, or La Caméra: I, in the presence of Babette Mangolte

Saturday 25 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

6:00-8:30 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]

Filmmaker Babette Mangolte will be in conversation with Laura Mulvey.


Session #4: Three Landscape Films by Babette Mangolte + Filmmaker in conversation

Sunday 26 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

2:30-6:00 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]

Filmmaker Babette Mangolte will be in conversation with Laura Mulvey and Lucy Reynolds.


Session #5: Illustrated talk by Zoe Beloff, including screenings of three films, and conversation with Esther Leslie & Laura Mulvey

Monday 27 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

1:30–4:30 |  [Free event: Book here]


Session #6: Thinking Cinema on Television : Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), ca. 1975 (SESSION 2)

Monday 27 March 2017

6:30-8:00  | Goethe-Institut | [Book here]


Session #7: Thinking Cinema on Television : Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), ca. 1975 (SESSION 3)

Monday 27 March 2017

8:30-10:00 | Goethe-Institut | [Book here]


Session #8:  ABOUT THE ISLAND CURATED BY GEORGE CLARK

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

2:00-5:00 | [Free event: Book here]


Session #9: The Illinois Parables + Filmmaker in conversation

Tuesday 28 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

6:30-8:30 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]

Filmmaker Deborah Stratman will be in conversation with critic and film essayist Kevin B. Lee.


Session #10: Perfidious Albion, a programme curated by Catherine Grant and Sarah Wood

Wednesday 29 March

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

1:00–6:00 | [Book here]


Session #11: Le Moulin, introduced by Luke Robinson

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

8:30-11:30 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]


Session #12: Screening of Tongpan (Euthana Mukdasanit, Surachai Janthimathorn, 1977) with introduction and discussion

Thursday 30 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema,  43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

3:30–5:30 | [Free event: Book here]

Tongpan will be introduced and discussed by May Adadol Ingawanij (Westminster), Graiwoot Chulphongsathorn (Queen Mary London).


Session #13: Critique, Protest, Activism and the Video Essay, a lecture-performance by Kevin B. Lee

Thursday 30 March 2017

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

8:45–11:00 | Cinema 1 | [Book here]


Session #14: The Architectural Essay Film, with Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Friday 31 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

11:00–16:00 | [Free event: Book here]

A special two-part collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture.


Session #15: Essay Film Festival 2017: Screening of Filmfarsi with filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht in conversation

Friday 31 March 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

6:00–9:00 | [Free event: Book here]

Filmmaker Ehsan Khoshbakht will be in conversation with Treasa O’Brien (Westminster)


Session #16: Screenings and discussion with filmmaker Jocelyne Saab

Saturday 1 April 2017

Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

1:00–6:00 | [Book here]

Filmmaker Jocelybe Saab will be in conversation with Tim Markham (Birkbeck) and Stefanie van der Peer (Exeter)

Preludes 2017

Preludes 2017


video-letters-robert-kramer-and-stephen-dwoskin-1024x576Prelude #1: Video Letters

Friday 20th January 2016, 6pm-9pm

 

Introduced by film historian and Kramer expert Bernard Eisenschitz


Prelude #2: Bette Gordon

Saturday 18th February 2016, 1pm-4pm

 

Selection of shorts by the American director curated by Dr. Erika Balsom