Stephen Dwoskin + Robert Kramer, France, 1991, Betacam SP or digital
In the first Essay Film Festival Prelude we present the rarely screened series of video letters exchanged between the filmmakers Robert Kramer and Stephen Dwoskin made between February and June 1991.
Steve Dwoskin on the video letters: “It was more like writing, in that you didn’t have to involve anyone else in it. Not including editing was again like doing a written letter – you don’t really edit your letters when you write to friends – so the idea was simply to just do whatever we could in the camera.”
Robert Kramer on the video letters: “I used to spend a lot of time thinking about the letter, and where to start and how to do it. I would plan this whole thing out. There’s a lot of that feeling which does merge film and performance. I like the tension that’s in that situation and try and work it all out physically. It’s another way of thinking about mise en scene.”
“We want to make films that unnerve, that shake assumptions, that threaten, that do not soft-sell”
Robert Kramer, ‘Newsreel’ Film Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1968-69), p.46, University of California Press
The late ’60s and ’70s saw the development of documentary film collectives in the UK that addressed the burning political issues of their day. They developed radical forms of independent film production and distribution prior to digital or the web and produced a large body of work, from short agitational cinetracts to sophisticated essayistic features.
The symposium seeks to re-ignite the work of this radical wave, to ask how they engaged with politics and film and how this might inform politically engaged filmmaking today. It will feature films, and filmmakers, from the ’70s generation alongside radicals of today. Here is the keynote address by Federico Rossin (Critic and Curator).