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Shaping Contemporary Film Culture A: The Essay Film and the Archive


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 7
  • Convenors: Professor Laura Mulvey, Michael Temple (subject to change)
  • Assessment: an essay film season programme (1000 words) and critical reflection on film selection (2000 words)

Module description

The theory and practice of the essay film has recently attracted considerable attention. As a form of cinema that ranges from experimentation with moving images through to personal mediations, often combining the political with the poetic, the essay film eludes easy definition. As such, it presents an interesting challenge for programmers. At the same time, film archives have increasingly made their material more accessible, giving moving image artists and film theorists the opportunity to experiment with film.

This module introduces you to innovative ways of programming and archiving film and screen media, and includes the opportunity to participate in The Essay Film Festival.

Indicative module content

  • The essay film: theoretical definitions and critical reflections
  • Autobiographical cinema and the essayistic voice
  • Between documentary and essay: from the personal to the political
  • Jean-Luc Godard as film essayist
  • The politics of the archive
  • Recovering the past: curating forgotten films