Truls Lie, editor of DOX and filmmaker, made a fine inspirational introduction to what is the film essay. He stressed the characteristics of the genre and showed great classic clips from masters like Jean-Luc Godard (photo) (”L´Histoire du Cinema”, Chris Marker (”Sans Soleil”), Alain Resnais (”Night and Fog”) as well as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Haron Farocki. For Lie the essayistic documentary is ”a meeting ground for documentary, avant-garde and art impulses”. It can be a critical reflection (Marker’s many films on the American dominance of world politics) and/or an authorial ”voice” – great to watch Godard, cigar in mouth writing on his classical typewriter. The genre gives more freedom, it is elusive and inclusive, and it has an open structure. Lie also showed clips from his new film on Jørgen Leth, Danish filmmaker
The first half of Lie’s lecture was decicated to this historical perspective on great names of Cinema, whereas his second half included a trailer for his own film project from the Middle East, where he wants to focus on the situation of the women in Egypt and in other places in the region. His approach provoked a lot of comments from the participating film people, the strongest from Khaled Jarrar, Palestinian filmmaker, who argued that Lie with his images was just reinforcing the stereotypes that are always conveyed when Westerners want to make film. A couple of people in the auditorium said that Westerners should not make any films outside their own country!
Lie thought that the essay film was on its way back, I think he is right as it is one of the many ways being unfolded to fight against the mainstream documentary that lives under the tyranny of the (television) formats.