The essay film

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


This paper discusses the essay film and its practice. Criteria are established for the form: It should be less than feature length. It must have text. The text must represent a single voice, and the speakers attempt to work out some reasoned line of discourse on a problem. The text must have a strong personal point of view. The text's language should be as eloquent and interesting as possible. Three films are analyzed that illustrate the essay film form: Chris Marker's 'Letter from Siberia', Cindy Stillwell's 'Mating For Life', and Werner Herzog's 'Grizzly Man'. I conclude that the essay film form is a viable alternative to traditional documentary filmmaking styles. It is particularly useful in specific historical, social, and political contexts as a means of influencing public opinion and advocating for change.


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



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