… is a very well programmed and introduced film series that takes place in London at the BFI (British Film Institute) Southbank. Yes, what is the essay film that we talk about and often connect to films that we don’t know where to categorize… This is the intro text written by Kieron Corless, taken from the site, link below:
“Sitting somewhere between documentary and fiction, the ‘essay film’ signals and probes, like no other form of cinema, the filmmaker’s personal relationship to the images on screen. Grappling with urgent political and philosophical issues of the day, the essay film is cinema at its most engaged and liberated… He continues: Nowadays most commentators agree that the essay film is neither documentary nor fiction but sits somewhere on its own, evincing characteristics of both through its staging of an encounter between a self, filmed images and the world. Could we label it a genre?…”
Anyway, it is a brilliant and very inviting programme that BFI has put together – with lectures at the end of August after all films have been screened. Film history it is, to offer the audience “A Propos de Nice” (Jean Vigo, 1930,), A Valparaiso (Joris Ivens, 1965), Madrid (Patricio Guzman, 2002), not to talk about the name always mentioned when essay films are screened – Chris Marker with his “Sans Soleil” (1983), Alain Resnais “Toute la Mémoire du Monde” (1966) and Humphrey Jennings masterpiece “Diary for Timothy” (1945) (photo).
What pleases me is to see John Burgan’s Berlin-film listed. I saw this film many years ago (the film is from 1998, title “Memory of Berlin”), it was impressive and wonderfully off-mainstream. We have met and corresponded
since then, and I know numerous young filmmakers, who have praised his teaching, when he was at The European Film College in Ebeltoft in Denmark. The film is “an autobiographical, made-for-German-TV essay film was much admired by none other than Chris Marker, but remains too little known despite that. Using the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 as his point of departure, Burgan recalls his life as an adopted child, linking his poignant awareness of his own split identity and his search for his biological mother to the historical trauma of the city’s divided state.”
A film that I have never heard about is “La Morte Rouge” from 2006, 35 mins., description like this: Víctor Erice’s elegic short essay takes as its starting point his first trip to the cinema as a young boy in post-Civil War Spain, but spins off to explore the theatre, now disappeared, in which he saw the film, childhood horrors, and the suffering of a people traumatised by the war’s losses. Erice skilfully weaves diverse elements – archive, newly shot footage, Arvo Pärt’s music – into an allusive meditation on history, memory and time’s corrosive impact.
Where can I get hold of this – not being able to come to London?