Essay Film Now : Shortlsted artists to feature in event at Whitechapel Gallery

  • This special event on the 21st January from 2-6pm, is dedicated to the art of the Essay Film, and will feature the four filmmakers who have been shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Essay Film Award, worth £10,000 to the winners and £1,000 to each runner up.

    The award winning filmmakers Charlie Lyne, Marianna Simnett, Sam Stevens and Sarah Wood have all very diverse practices within the genre. The audience will have the chance to hear first hand about their filmmaking and see their latest work.

    Charlie Lyne’s films use existing footage cleverly pieced together to reveal disconcerting undertones such as in Beyond Clueless (2014); Sam Stevens' main interests centre on ecological, social and political realities in Europe as found in his film Atlantropa (2009), which imagines a bridge across the straits of Gibraltar; Marianna Simnett uses surrealist techniques in her work to blend real and imagined events into magic-realist morality tales where she often plays the protagonist undergoing significant physical duress such as in The Needle and the Larynx (2016); and Sarah Wood for whom language has dominated her practice to-date alongside a focus on archive and the way it is used to perform evidence as a shorthand for meaning such as in I Am A Spy (2014).

    For more information about the featured filmmakers and their websites please go to :

    In recent years, Essay Filmmaking as a genre has received widespread recognition and is a growing art form, due in part to digital filmmaking. It is a hybrid form bringing together elements of documentary and experimental filmmaking where the voice of the maker or artist is very evident in the narrative thereby allowing themes or ideas to come through in different ways not seen in standard documentary films. Classic exponents of the essay film genre include Chris Marker, Harun Farocki, Patrick Keiller and Agnes Varda.

    The winner of the award will be announced at the AF Awards 2017 on the 25th January at 7.15pm.

    The event will conclude with writer and expert on the genre Sophie Mayer who will be discussing the rich history of the essay film, and its contemporary diversity as seen in the shortlisted artists’ work. The event will be chaired by Gareth Evans writer, producer and film curator at the Whitechapel Gallery.

    Tickets £12.50/£10.50 concs - available from

    About Sophie Mayer
    Sophie Mayer is the author of POLITICAL ANIMALS: THE NEW FEMINIST CINEMA (IB Tauris, 2015) and THE CINEMA OF SALLY POTTER: A POLITICS OF LOVE (Wallflower, 2009) and a regular contributor to Sight & Sound, The F-Word and Literal magazine. She works with queer feminist film curators Club des Femmes, and with Raising Films, a campaign and community for parents and carers in the film and TV industry. Her most recent poetry collections are (O) (Arc, 2015) and kaolin (Lark Books, 2015).