The essay film: A film form with imagination

November © Courtesy of Hito Steyerl

’20 20:00


Kunsthal Gent
Lange Steenstraat 14, Ghent


€ 8 / € 5 (reduction) Order

No more seats available.

In recent years, OFFoff has more often shown films that fall under the heading “essay film” or “cine essay”. This autumn is no different with films of Jean-Daniel Pollet and James Bridle, as well as with this program, which is entirely devoted to this very versatile film form.

In 1940, Hans Richter described the essay film as “the shaping of ideas on screen, using everything that exists and that allows to be invented.” Eighty years later, essay films enjoy much recognition and cinephile appreciation as a special category of film practice, with their own history and their own canonical figures and texts. They are often creative and experimental documentaries at the crossroads of social and personal histories. They relate to the literary essay by ‘writing with the camera’, whereby the film author visually or verbally shapes his thoughts around an idea or a subject, starting from a wide arsenal of visual materials and storytelling strategies, but above all also drawing from experiences, feelings and fascinations.

Due to the subjective approach, imagination and fiction often play an important role in the search for insights into their own and shared reality. In fact, in many essay films, fiction is the connecting layer between the focus on interpreting reality on the one hand and a personal story with its own imaginary logic on the other. This also applies to the surprising films in this program, which land in a wonderful way from reality into fiction, or vice versa.

This program is part of a research project led by Isolde Vanhee and is a collaboration between OFFoff and LUCA School of Arts.

Thom Andersen

Juke: Passages from the Films of Spencer Williams

US • 2015 • 29' • b&w • digital

Hito Steyerl


DE • 2004 • 25' • colour • digital

Patrick Keiller

Stonebridge Park

GB • 1981 • 21' • b&w • 16mm