Sat 25 – Fri 31 March 2023
The Essay Film Festival returns to the ICA with a wide-ranging selection of formally ambitious and politically engaged films of past and present.
Lebanese artist Rania Stephan’s intimate conversational portrait of Syrian writer and activist Samar Yazbek explores the limits of language in the face of atrocity and displacement, while her Beirut street-scenes and her mixing of private and public archives ask important questions about memory and witnessing.
The inherent violence of colonialism and its cultural legacies are examined by Med Hondo’s essay on the lives of immigrant workers in France and by Assia Djebar’s poetic reworking of archive images shot in the Maghreb.
Innovative and creative approaches to anthropological investigation are proposed by Ruchir Joshi’s study of Bengal’s traditional wandering musicians and by Jocelyne Saab’s lovingly crafted portrayals of Egypt in a time of transition.
A new essay film by Lis Rhodes combines aesthetic complexity and social analysis, while a collaboration between researcher Ian Christie and filmmaker Chiemi Shimada casts a fresh eye on Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein’s time spent in Mexico in 1931.
Experimental and political, the essay film calls into question the language of representation and operates at the forefront of cinema’s critical engagement with the world.
The Essay Film Festival is proposed by Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the ICA, with the support of CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership and in collaboration with Open City Documentary Festival.