Essay Film Studio – statement

The essay film tends to be treated as a genre distinguished by its characteristic features such as subjectivity or hybridity, and a tendency to blend contradictory orders – theory with practice, knowledge with emotions, facts with fiction. As such, the essay film has a history, a set of canonical works and a list of household names including Chris Marker, Agnès Varda, Harun Farocki, Jean-Luc Godard or Orson Welles. Creatively drawing from this tradition, at the Essay Film Studio we expand on the meaning of the “essay” by reconnecting it to its root, which derives from “an attempt”, an exploration that is constantly being repeated in order to grasp various phenomena in the very process of their description.

In our view, the essay is not necessarily a genre, but rather an attitude, a cognitive and artistic method that doesn’t stick to established forms and figures, but forces one to reinvent them every step of the way, revise one’s assumptions, point-of-view and modes of expression.

Therefore, the main question that we aim to explore in the seminars, workshops, discussions and film projects carried out in the framework of the Studio, is not what the essay film IS, but what it CAN become in the hands of the artists and researchers who will choose to deploy it as a mode of investigating reality through the essayistic practice.

What instruments, methods, and poetics do essayist have at their disposal in the current media landscape? How can they creatively built upon the film history and simultaneously engage with the new audiovisual forms? How can we imagine the equivalent of scribbling with images and sounds (cinécriture), the essayistic practice natively performed in the audiovisual domain, the act of doodling not with a pen, but with a camera, and the aid of the editing software?

Such objectives require specific means and conditions of production, that provide makers with the most precious of resources – the time, and the space to make attempts, to fail, to experiment and test various assumptions, to risk producing materials that will never be used, and to take radical detours if the material demands it. The open-ended nature of the research performed in the Essay Film Studio will allow for the trial-and-error testing of diverse formal strategies, without the necessity to adhere to any preconceived format (duration, genre etc.). Given that, the Studio recognizes not only the finished products but also the failed attempts and partial results as valid research materials and sources of practice-based knowledge

Studio Leaders
Kuba Mikurda, k.mikurda@filmschool.lodz.pl
Stanisław Liguziński, s.liguzinski@vnlab.org