Messaging between the lines : a case for multiple, respectfully-handled perspectives in the essay film

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


In the non-fiction film, and particularly the essay film, directors sometimes use multiple story lines, or perspectives, to approach an argument from several different angles. Out of this synthesis, a separate overarching thesis emerges which, I argue, is an effective method of conveying the filmmaker's voice. However, it is not only the use of these multiple perspectives that contributes to a greater meaning between the lines, it is also the filmmaker's treatment of the subjects that provide those accounts and viewpoints. This paper examines several case studies of essay films to investigate the efficacy of multiple perspectives and the subject treatment thereof in communicating the film's thesis. I find that, provided the subjects are treated with respect and given space to tell their own stories, the use of multiple voices can make a film's statement much more powerful than by using the filmmaker's voice alone.


Backyard is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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