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The Essay Film Festival returns to Birkbeck and the Institute of Contemporary Arts

Festival will run from 24 March- 1 April 2017

 After two highly successful instalments, the Essay Film Festival will return to Birkbeck and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) for its third edition from 24 March – 1 April 2017.

By now established as the pioneering international showcase for this most multifaceted and dynamic of documentary forms, the Essay Film Festival is a collaborative venture between the ICA, Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, and the Goethe-Institut London.

This year’s edition will feature innovative essay films both recent and historical from Argentina, USA, Taiwan, Germany, Thailand, Lebanon, and the UK.

Alongside this diverse programme of screenings, the festival will give audiences the opportunity to engage with a range of special guests, including veteran filmmakers and newcomers, film critics, historians and scholars.

This year’s selection of films encompasses self-portraiture, video-essay activism, documents of war’s impact, the diary form, poetry as anti-colonial gesture, found footage historiography, and meditations on landscape and the often bloody histories layered and rooted therein.

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

This edition’s centrepiece is a strand dedicated to director and cinematographer Babette Mangolte, whose 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. Babette Mangolte will be present at the festival to discuss her work and show several of her films.

Other featured artists appearing in person at the ICA include filmmakers Andrés Di Tella (327 Notebooks) and Deborah Stratman (Illinois Parables), and the renowned critic and digital essayist Kevin B. Lee (Transformers: The Premake).

Another major highlight is the presence of veteran filmmaker Jocelyne Saab, who will join the festival at Birkbeck Cinema to screen and discuss her fabled Beirut trilogy, shot in the 1970s and 1980s, which documents not only the destruction wrought by civil war on the city where she was born, but also the resilience and spirit of its citizens.

Birkbeck Cinema will also host events featuring the presence of Zoe Beloff (Two Marxists in Hollywood), George Clark (Sea of Clouds), Sarah Wood (Boat People), and Ehsan Khoshbakht (Filmfarsi).

Finally, film theorist and curator Volker Pantenburg will be present at Birkbeck Cinema and the Goethe-Institut to introduce a special strand of events about televisual film criticism made for German TV in the 1970s, including work by Harun Farocki and Ingemo Engström.

For the full programme, please go to the Essay Film Festival website.

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