Due to Covid-19, the 2020 Essay Film Festival was sadly cancelled, with a view to reschedule the events. It was set to showcase work by The Yugantar Film Collective, The Otolith Group, Ruchir Joshi, Garrett Bradley, Cauleen Smith and more.
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.
Essay Film Festival 2020 Programme
Thursday 26 March, 18:00-21:00, Birkbeck Cinema
Is This Just a Story? Celebrating the Yugantar Film Collective
Friday 27 March, 11:00-18:00, Birkbeck Cinema
Archive/Fictions: Found Footage and the Essay Film
Friday 27 March, 20:30-22:30, ICA
Essay film exploring the educational philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore
Saturday 28 March, 18:00-19:30, ICA
UK premieres of found footage works by Leandro Listorti and John Torres
Saturday 28 March, 20:00-23:00, ICA
UK premiere of restored classic Indian essay film
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
Sunday 29 March, 20:30-22:30, ICA
Ruchir Joshi: short film programme and conversation
Monday 30 March, 10:00-19:00, Birkbeck Cinema
Ruchir Joshi Symposium: Essays in Text and Image
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
Tuesday 31 March, 20:55-23:00, ICA
To bring the world into the world: a programme by Sarah Wood
Wednesday 1 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema
Workshop with Garrett Bradley
Wednesday 1 April, 21:00-23:00, ICA
UK premiere of America and conversation with Trevor Mathison
Thursday 2 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema
An illustrated lecture by Cauleen Smith
Thursday 2 April, 6.00 -7:30, Close Up Cinema
16mm Screening of the recently released debut film by Cauleen Smith
Thursday 2 April, 21:00-23:00, ICA
Cauleen Smith: short film programme and conversation
Friday 3 April, 14:00-17:00, Birkbeck Cinema
A tribute to the work of Jocelyne Saab presented by Mathilde Rouxel
Friday 3 April, 8:15, French Institute
UK premiere of restored Moroccan essay film banned forty years ago
Saturday 4 April, 14:30-19:30, Goethe-Institut
UK premiere of restoration of Escape Route to Marseille adapted from the novel Transit