Essay Film Festival 2018: Montgomery Clift documentary (work-in-progress session)- Report and Interview with the Film-Makers

by Danielle Capretti

There was palpable excitement amongst the audience for a work-in-progress screening of a Montgomery Clift documentary at the BIMI on 27th March 2018.  Would they just be viewing selected clips, introduced by the filmmakers?  Or perhaps even more?  When the audience learnt they would be the first people beyond the film’s collaborators to preview this work, their anticipation increased a few notches.

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Essay Film Festival 2018: Thomas Elsaesser

We are happy to present a recording of a discussion between Thomas Elsaesser and Erica Carter (King’s College London) following our screening of his film The Sun Island on 28th March 2018.

In his first film, The Sun Island, Thomas Elsaesser, eminent film theorist and film historian, documents the life and professional career of his grandfather, Martin Elsaesser (1884-1957), who was architect and chief city planner in Frankfurt from 1925 to 1932. The recent and controversial acquisition of the latter’s landmark building, the Frankfurt Central Market, by the European Central Bank as the site of their new headquarters, allows the film to draw attention to the importance of Martin Elsaesser’s place in the city’s architectural history, and to the neglect of his legacy.

But the film also revolves around Martin’s private life, and notably his wife Liesel’s long-standing liaison with landscape architect Leberecht Migge. Home movies and photographs are combined with personal letters and contemporary interviews to create an intimate portrait of these relationships, and of the protagonists’ collective attempt to create a self-sufficient utopia on Sun Island during the crucial years between the Weimar Republic and World War Two.


Further Information:

1. Martin Elsaesser Stiftung PDF

2. Review of The Sun Island

3. Thomas Elsaesser website

Essay Film Festival 2015: Thom Andersen

From our archives we are happy to present four major recordings of acclaimed film-maker Thom Andersen introducing his films and discussing his career.  Thom was a guest of the 1st Essay FIlm Festival held in 2015 and in these recordings he is in conversation with Kodwo Eshun of the Otolith Group and Michael Witt.

EFF 2015: The Thoughts That Once We Had – Thom Andersen Introduction (March 25th, 2015):

EFF 2015: The Thoughts That Once We Had – Q & A Thom Andersen and Michael Witt (March 25th, 2015):

EFF 2015: Thom Andersen Shorts – Introduction (March 28th, 2015):

EFF 2015: Thom Andersen Shorts – Q & A Thom Andersen + Kodwo Eshun (March 28th, 2015):


Writing with The Camera: Unconventional approaches to Essay Filmmaking

The BAFTSS Essay Film SIG and the Derek Jarman Lab


 Writing with The Camera: Unconventional approaches to Essay Filmmaking

 A roundtable discussion and workshop for essay film practitioners and enthusiasts. The gathering aims to promote the exchange of knowledge and ideas about the screenwriting process and screenplay development for the essay-film, as part of the London Essay Film Festival.

Date of the workshop: 24th March 2018 (10 am – 1 pm).

Deadline: 15th March 2018

Location: Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck School of Arts, Birkbeck London WC1H 0PD

During the session, we will introduce approaches to screenwriting outside conventional formats and discuss how the participants’ essay-film projects might draw from the application of similar development techniques. The focus will be on processes of layering, working and re-working material, remaining flexible to facilitate moving backwards and forwards between scripting, editing and devising sound/VO. Filmmakers Romana Turina and Rebecca E. Marshall will look at this process within their completed works and how open systems of development loops can make use of both carefully planned sequences and unexpected moments.

Participants of the workshop will be asked to bring examples of storyboard/script/ notebooks/image collection from their projects. In the second part of the session, we will share and discuss these documents.


Date: 24th March 2018

Time: 10am – 1pm

  • 10 am: welcome, opening presentation and introduction
  • 10:30 am – 12 am: Roundtable Discussion – individuals present their ongoing projects one by one.
  • 12 am – 1 pm: Participant’s Materials displaying on the tables – knowledge exchange and discussion on process.



If you are interested in participating, please send a 150-word description of the project and a 100-word bio to:  or

before 15th March 2018.

Session One: Laura Rascaroli Lecture With Screening Of La Bocca Del Lupo

Essay film specialist Laura Rascaroli will give a talk on lyricism and poetry in the essay film, and introduce Pietro Marcello’s La bocca del lupo [The Mouth of the Wolf] (2009).

Wednesday 21 March 2018, 18:00 

Birkbeck Cinema: FREE event [book here]

Opening Lecture: ‘Compounding the Lyric Essay Film: Towards a Theory of Poetic Counter-Narrative’, by Professor Laura Rascaroli, University College Cork; followed by a screening of Pietro Marcello’s film La bocca del lupo [The Mouth of the Wolf] (2009)

La bocca del lupo [The Mouth of the Wolf], Pietro Marcello, Italy, 2009, DVD, 68 minutes, Italian with English subtitles

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