Volume 1, Issue 19: Black Lives Matter Playlist V
Camden International Film Festival, Les Quatre Cents Coups, Join the Screenworks Team
On Friday, I released the latest episode of the The Video Essay Podcast, which features the complete audio from “Seen and Heard: Selections from the Black Lives Matter Video Essay Playlist,” a screening and panel co-moderated by Cydnii Wilde Harris, Kevin B. Lee, and me at the London-based Open City Documentary Festival. The screening featured short interviews with four creators on the list: Jazmin Jones, Professor Flowers, Nzingha Kendall, and Cydnii. We had a fantastic time chatting with them about their work and the playlist! I’d like to also extend a huge thank you to the team at Open City, who put this event together and generously agree to share the audio!
All of the proceeds from the event were donated to Black Minds Matter UK. Please consider making a donation, here.
As will become clear once you begin listening to the podcast, the interviews took place in between three separate screening blocks. The videos essays, of course, are not included in the audio above. Ideally, as you are listening to the podcast, you will pause the audio and return to this webpage and watch the videos! I added twenty seconds or so of elevator music in between each segment to give you some time to pause and adjust yourself. Anyway, here are the videos!
And we also have some very exciting news to share! The playlist will makes it second appearance on the festival circuit this Friday, October 9th at 5 p.m. EST, at the Camden International Film Festival. The event is FREE!!! The programming will feature a new slate of videos, and include interviews with Bria Nachele, Cara Washington, Manny Fidel, and the hosts of the podcast For All Nerds.
RSVP and join us here.
Partnership with the Cary Comes Home Festival
Another reminder that the podcast is partnering with the Cary Comes Home Festival, the Bristol, UK-based festival honoring the life and work of Cary Grant, to present "The Journeys of Cary Grant: An Audiovisual Celebration."
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Grant’s journey to the United States and international stardom, we are seeking video essays exploring journeys of many types. We are interested in exploring the idea of the journey, not only in terms of geography, place, space and physical travels (both real life and on film), but also in terms of psychological journeys: voyages of identity, self-discovery and self-invention. We are open to all kinds of journeys, including fan journeys, star pilgrimage, set-jetting, movie location tours and rephotography and all forms of audio-visual criticism, including video essays, fanvids, and any kind of video that reappropriates footage of Cary Grant. Videos of any length will be accepted but the ideal length will be between 5-6 minutes.
All submitted work will be featured on the Cary Comes Home website and on The Video Essay Podcast website. Some of the best work will be featured on an episode of The Video Essay Podcast which will be recorded live at the virtual festival in November. Creators will be invited to join the conversation!
The rolling deadline for submissions is Friday, October 16th. Submit here.
News & Notes
I need your help curating this section!! Have something that should be featured? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Screenworks is looking for two associate editors to join their editorial team. Learn more here. Deadline to apply is Oct. 31. (P.S. I’m an assistant editor, and would definitely encourage anyone reading to apply!)
Attend the virtual book launch for Beyond the Essay Film: Subjectivity, Textuality, and Technology on Oct 6. Register here.
A new issue of MAI Journal, featuring a video essay by Catherine Grant.
Apply for the Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant. Deadline is October 31.
Tecmerin has put out a call for video essays, due Oct. 15. More here.
Student Spotlight: Q&A with Morgane Frund
Each week, the newsletter will aim to feature a video essay made by a student(s) along with a short Q&A. Is there a student(s) or former student(s) of yours you would like to see highlighted? Email email@example.com.
Morgane Frund created this video essay under the supervision of Johannes Binotto at The Lucerne School of Art and Design.
Still images are used throughout your video essay to great effect, particularly in the way in which they evoke the last shot of Les Quatre Cents Coups (The 400 Blows). Could you elaborate on your decision to use still images rather than, say, play a moment on a loop, slow it down, or use some other strategy we often see in video essays?
In general, I believe it’s always interesting to stop on a specific frame and take the time to really look at it. Observing Les Quatre Cents Coups through stills opened me to a new reading of the film. I think it makes you take a step back from the narrative and reinterpret what you feel toward the object, a little bit like looking at pictures of an event you experienced. To me, the last shot of the film also has a strong sense of nostalgia, and I wanted to use that reference to evoke the little girls’ story and their ghostly presence in the narrative.
More often than not, I think video essayists are often drawn to working with films that they enjoy. Why did you decide to create a video essay about a film that, as you say in the piece, is not one you are particularly fond of?
I think that not being fond of Les 400 Coups allows me to see something else in the film. I’ve spent most of my childhood looking for relatable female characters in books or films without much success, and Truffaut’s film isn’t helping very much here, especially if we look at Antoine’s Mother. But because I was desperately looking for a positive female figure in there, I noticed the three little girls in the cage. So sometimes not being in love with a film allows you to get to know it differently and find some hidden treasures in it. I think it’s also interesting to note that Truffaut himself later criticized his work in that sense, acknowledging that the way he portrayed Antoine’s mother wasn’t fair. I like the idea of trying to discuss these issues within the film, looking at what could have been made differently and asking oneself what it would have changed.
What was your creative process like? More specifically, how fully formed was the idea for this video prior to the editing process? How did the shape and narrative of the video change as you worked?
At the beginning, I was mostly interested in the actress who plays the little girl standing in the middle. I was deeply impressed by her gaze and I asked myself if she acted in other films, but I couldn’t find any evidence of it. I started wondering what the film would have been like, if she had been a bigger part of it. Following that, I built an argument around her place within the scene and the film. Usually, the writing process is where everything takes place for me. But for this project I recorded the voice over quite early, so it was semi-improvised. I did only one take and then I edited it and worked on the visual aspects.
I really love this notion of a personal, alternative film history. It seems to me the form of the video essay is ideal for such histories. Would you agree? What is it about the form, in your view, that allows for such effective retellings?
I think that the form of the video essay highlights the subjective aspect of the argumentation and that’s precisely what is needed for a personal, alternative film history. It’s different for everyone and it’s perpetually evolving, so doing it in the form of a paper for example might make it look too unpersonal and “frozen”. Hearing the voice of the person and/or watching the material being re-edited in a new way makes you very conscious of the active intervention that took place, reminding you that you are watching someone’s retelling and that it was recorded at a certain moment. There is also something uplifting about the idea that everyone can create their own personal film histories and that these retellings can interact with one another, creating together a plural and alternative film history.