Call for proposals: The Essay Film Festival: Research, Critique, Practice

The Essay Film Festival: Research, Critique, Practice

A call for proposals for a student-led symposium reflecting on EFF 2020

As part of its new collaborative partnership with CHASE, the Essay Film Festival is inviting proposals from doctoral students for a student-led symposium exploring essayistic forms and their relationship to academic research, social critique and artistic practice.

The conference will combine research presentations and film screenings, including examples of practice-led researchers talking through, questioning and “essaying” their own work. This event will follow the sixth edition of the Essay Film Festival, which will take place at Birkbeck Cinema, ICA, Goethe-Institut and Institut Français, from 26 March to 4 April 2020.

The symposium will be held at Birkbeck Cinema Saturday 30th May 2020, more than a month after the end of the festival. The idea of the conference is therefore to provide a space for critical reflection and debate, with a certain detachment from the EFF programme itself, as well as to propose and discuss new directions for the festival in the future.

Key themes of this year’s Essay Film Festival include:

●      Found footage – an essential essayistic practice for exploring the relationship between archives, history, memory and narration.

●      Film adaptation – specifically essayistic or experimental approaches to the practice of “translating” between media forms, between historical contexts, between cultures.

●      Filmmaking collectives – foregrounding group-based film and video-making practices, especially those that operate outside, or in opposition to, the cultural mainstream.

●      Sound – exploring interaction between the auditory and the visual within the medium of film and video.

●      Documentary in India and Southern Asia – with a focus on marginal, experimental, and politically engaged practices.

●      The politics of film restoration – especially of “forgotten” works, oppositional or counter-cinema, and films coming from a position of alterity or marginality.

In addition to conference papers, the symposium will be open to presentations that take the form of video essays, sound compositions, visual studies, and other creative interventions in the debate around the history and contemporary relevance of essayistic practices.

Proposals are now welcome from those wishing to engage with any aspect of this programme of events, or indeed with aspects which are not covered by the programme.

Deadline: Friday 13th March 2020

Submission: Expressions of interest and conference proposals (no more than 250 words) should be sent to the following address, marked “EFF symposium”:

Further information about the Essay Film Festival is available from the EFF website ( and BIMI website (

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

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