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Thinking Images

The Essay Film as a Dialogic Form in European Cinema

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David Montero

The essay film – ‘a form that thinks’ – serves to create a self-reflexive space for contemporary society by challenging expectations and demanding the creative involvement of the spectator. Using film to provoke thought has never been more important than now, when non-fiction films are gaining in popularity and playing a growing part in debates about culture and politics. This timely publication argues that the appeal of the essay film lies primarily in the dialogic engagement with the spectator and the richness of the intellectual and artistic debate it stimulates.
The book focuses on the work of three key European film directors associated with the essay film: Chris Marker, Harun Farocki and José Luis Guerín. It provides a detailed analysis of several films by each director, exploring the relationship between dialogism and essayism in their work and placing this in the wider context of debates on the cinematic essay as a genre. Central aspects of essayistic filmmaking are explored, including its radical approach to knowledge, its distinctive patterns of subjectivity, its challenging of the formal representation of reality, and its contribution to new understandings of spectatorship. Written with clarity and perception, this volume offers new insights into the rise of the non-fiction film and the essay film, in particular.

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Acknowledgements vii

Extract

Acknowledgements Thanks for film and video availability to the Bibliothèque du Film (BIFI) and staf f at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and to Antje Ehmann from ‘Farocki Filmproduktion’ in Berlin. Access to José Luis Guerín’s original script for Train of Shadows would have been impossible without the help of staf f at the Biblioteca de la Generalitat de Catalunya in Barcelona. I would also like to thank the University of Bath Inter-library Loan staf f. Vanessa Callard, from the Department of European Studies and Modern Languages at the University of Bath, swiftly resolved administrative issues related to my research. Christa Blümlinger, Josep M. Català, Antonio Weinrichter, Helena Lopez, Jon Kear, Catherine Lupton, Michael Witt, William Brooks, David Gillespie, David Clarke, James Callow and Laura Rascaroli have at dif ferent points provided feedback, drawn my attention towards events, helped me improve the text and/or suggested ways forward. Dr Peter Wagstaf f contributed good advice and many corrections. I would like to thank all of them deeply. I am equally indebted to my colleagues within the Spanish section at the Department of European Studies and Modern Languages in the University of Bath, who helped me to cope with teaching demands while I was completing this research. Friends have been an endless source of support. Thanks to Pablo Mar- tínez, Carlos Leal and Fermín Seño in Spain for sharing my enthusiasm for the work of Chris Marker. As with every other intellectual undertaking I have...

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