The Film

A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM

The world’s first movie about kids in global cinema. It’s a passionate, poetic portrait of the adventures of childhood – its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and stroppiness – as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries.It includes classic movies like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Red Balloon, also dozens of masterpieces (many directed by women) that are almost unknown.It combines the child’s eye view of Mark Cousins’ acclaimed film The First Movie, with the revelations and bold movie history of his 15 hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey.

As such, A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is an eye opener, a landmark film and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.

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WATCH THE MAKING OF THE FILM »

The Filmmakers

Mark Cousins
Timo Langer
Adam & Mary
Neil Mcglone

Mark CousinsWriter/Director/DP

Why Make this Film?

I've always been interested in kids in movies. They're often less controllable and controlled than adult actors. Many children in films are, of course, projections of adult concerns but, in some of the best films about kids, and the ones where children have a degree of agency, we can see glimpses of almost natural behaviour, or of ad-libbing for the camera which is playful, fine-grained, fresh.

I love such moments in a movie when the director cuts the kid a bit of slack to be themselves, show off, have fun, get upset. Such emotions come and go in kids really quickly, almost like a movie editor can cut in an instant between different situations. Movies seem alive in such moments, unpredictable, capricious. I hope we've incorporated some of this in A Story of Children and Film.

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Timo LangerEditor

Timo Langer (*1978) is a Director and Editor currently living in Edinburgh, UK. He started making films in his late teens and after graduating High School he went on to educate himself away from TV screens and Hi8 Cameras. He began at The New York Film Academy producing and directing short films and working as a technical advisor. After studying photography at Bolton University he attended The German Film School and graduated as a Digital Artist (PgDip). He then went to Edinburgh College of Art where he received a Master of Design in Visual Communication (Mdes) and later on graduated from the Edinburgh Skill and Media Academy as a Master of Fine Art in Advance Film Practice (MFA).

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Adam Dawtrey & Mary BellProducers

Sometime in early 2009, I bumped into Mark Cousins on the street in Edinburgh, and asked what he was up to. He said that he and Tilda Swinton had dreamed up a new idea for a film festival that summer, which involved pulling the Screen Machine, a 38-ton mobile cinema, by hand across the Scottish Highlands, showing great movies in small villages along the way. They called this wild idea The Pilgrimage.

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Neil McGloneResearcher & Advisor

Hi, I'm Neil, I'm 41 and from Woodbridge in Suffolk.

I've been in love with films since I was a child when I used to go to my local cinema every Saturday from about the age of 8 or 9 to what was then called a "Cine-Disco" (child of the 70's!). The local "Cine-Disco" involved about an hour of music where us kids were allowed up on the main stage to dance about to the music, chat with our mates, eat lots of sweets and learn what it was all about to speak to girls! Then once the hour of music was over we all returned to the cinema seats and were treated to some cartoons, an old black and white mystery serial that would run on each week and then a main feature. The main feature would invariably be anything that was out at the time like "Star Wars" or "Superman" but more often than not, it would be something by the Children's Film Foundation. All this fun, music and film for just a weekly sub of about £2 !

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Trailer

Process

THE MAKING OF THE FILM

 

View Mark’s Scribbles »

Press & News

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The World Premiere in Cannes!

A Story of Children and Film had its world premiere on May 17th in the Official Selection of the Cannes Film Festival, as part of the Cannes Classics section. The screening was presented by Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux. The screening led to a series of great reviews, including the first 5-star review of Cannes from the Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw Writes a 5 Star review to ASOCAF!

“Mark Cousins’s personal cine-essay about children on film is entirely distinctive, sometimes eccentric, always brilliant: a mosaic of clips, images and moments chosen with flair and grace, both from familiar sources and from the neglected riches of cinema around the world. Without condescension or cynicism, Cousins offers us his own humanist idealism, as refreshing as a glass of iced water.” [The full review can be accessed here.]

 

Charlotte Higgins Interviews Mark on Behalf of The Guardian

“In A Story of Children and Film,” Charlotte says, “[Mark] leads us on an odyssey around his imagination.” Read this enlightening interview on the Guardian website.

 

The Hollywood Reporter review:

“[ASOCAF] produces shards of insights and impressions in a way that, like the best archival works, provide inspiration for further research and discovery. Throughout, the film is rich in [its cinematic] finds, works seldom seen or discussed but, in many cases, just as impressive as the famous examples he samples.” Part of Todd McCarthy’s Cannes review of the film. Read the complete review here.

 

The Variety review:

“An idiosyncratically personal yet captivating companion piece to ‘The Story of Film.’” Read it on the Variety’s website.

 

RogerEbert.com: “The latest documentary by the movie-crazy genius of applied cinephilia.”

The movie is as self-indulgent as it is brilliant. I happen to be a fan of Cousins’s way of looking at the movies and registering their minute shifts of style…A Story of Children and Film makes us aware of how cinema has portrayed young faces looking at the world and reflecting upon its wonders and monstrosities alike…I have nothing but admiration for Cousins and hope he will follow this “Story” with many more to come. [read Michał Oleszczyk's full Cannes report at RogerEbert.com.]

 

EYES IN: “Film Director Cousins Is Celebrating a Masterpiece.”

Vivian Van Dijk writes: “The screening of A Story of Children and Film left me with a portfolio of knowledge about not only the history of children in film, but also about many learning effects of film itself. Film director Mark Cousins has made with this film a blueprint for many film generations to come. This is a must-see for anybody who is attending this Cannes Film Festival. Whether you are a film student or a successful film director already or just a film lover, Mark Cousins knows how to point you to the key ingredients that make children shine in film and also make their roles and behavior in film transparent.” Read the full lovely review + an interview with Mark by Tarik Khaldi here.

 

Scotsman: “Cousins examines the role of children in cinema, offering his own unique take along the way.”

Read Jonathan Melville’s Three Good Reasons to Enjoy Cannes here.

 

Another Cannes Review by ScreenDaily

“An engaging, heartfelt, thoughtful and occasionally insightful delve into how childhood and children haver influenced and inspired great cinema through the decades, Mark Cousins’ accessible and watchable documentary confirms what has long been suspected…that the many aspects of childhood bring out the best in some of the world’s greatest film-makers.” — Mark Adams.
Read the review here.

 

Mark in Q&A with Film4.com editor Catherine Bray

“Irish filmmaker and critic Mark Cousins recently premiered his new film A Story Of Children And Film in the Cannes Classics strand at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. A documentary very much in the vein of Mark’s 15 hour epic series The Story Of Film, this feature is a relatively compact 101 minutes which should be absolutely up the street of everyone who enjoyed The Story Of Film. Mark used footage he’d shot of his nephew and niece at play to explore the different aspects of childhood in film around the world and throughout the history of film.  Here, he shares with Film4.com editor Catherine Bray the story of how the project came about, and reflects on his own formative film experience.” READ MORE

 

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Karlovy Vary IFF to screen ASOCAF

“One of the greatest cinephiles among filmmakers, [Mark Cousins] has created a pioneering and emotionally compelling composition with the help of 53 clips.” — Karlovy Vary IFF

We are delighted to announce that A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is having its third major festival screening (after Cannes and the upcoming edition of Edinburgh IFF) at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2013 on June 29th at 4pm in Congress Hall.

“Childhood is the subject of Cousins’ exciting new journey through the history of film, as well as the themes connected to it – loneliness, playfulness, adventure, and mystery,” reads the brochure of one the most exciting film festivals in the world.

Also a second screening is scheduled by Kalovy Vary for the Small Hall on July 5 at 12:30.

EIFF preview in the Scotsman includes ASOCAF among its list of recommended films.

“Following up his magnificent documentary The Story of Film and his playfully indulgent What Is This Film Called Love?, Mark Cousins’ latest meditation on cinema looks at its connection to childhood. Another typically thoughtful trawl through the history of film seems likely.” [More here]

 

All Children Are Artists

With just five days left to the UK premiere of A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM at at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Mark has given a lengthy interview to the Scotsman, discussing Margaret O’Brien’s brilliant clumsiness, ASOCAF’s enthusiastic reception in Cannes, unsentimental depiction of children in Iranian cinema, as well as Picasso and filmmaking in the digital age.

Andrew Eaton-Lewis whose interview with Mark has touched on many aspects of childhood and cinema calls the film “a poetic, often hypnotic meditation on childhood.”

Full interview is now online here.

A round-up of the EIFF reviews:

Ross Miller, Thoughts on Film: “A charming and observant slice of cinematic nostalgia…[Mark Cousins'] conviction and passion are palpable while his excitement and enthusiasm for art of form – which he describes as the one which has looked at kids more than any other – bleeds out of the screen. For any cinephile it would be tough to watch this film and not feel a sense of joy…an intimate lyrical essay on the unique way cinema can showcase childhood.”

Chris Buckle, The Skinny: “This side-odyssey is a stimulating and perspective-broadening experience.”

Michael Clancy, The Artifice: “[Cousins'] research is in depth, his observations poignant. It makes for an excellent companion piece to his early opus, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, making Cousins one of the most astute and thoughtful filmmakers working today.”

Teddy Jamieson, Herald Scotland: “[Cousins] sees the world in cinema (and in world cinema) and then wants you to see it too…But really the thrill of A Story Of Children And Film is the way it makes us pay attention to stuff we might ignore.”

Euan Andrews, EdinburghGuide: “Cousins strings his thesis together with ease, a particularly sublime transition displaying how adults are seen through childish eyes cutting from an old Tom and Jerry cartoon to Lynne Ramsay’s ‘Gasman’.”

MyFilm.Blogspot.com: “This is a poem about children and about childhood./This film is poetry in motion./This film is, like all great poetry, pure emotion.”

Emma Thrower, The Hollywood News: “Transcendent and essential, Mark Cousins’ A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is a glorious celebration of children on celluloid.”

Andrew R. Hill, Blasted: “We’re spellbound by this film…entirely apposite given its subject; we marvel with childlike wonder at both children in cinema and at cinema itself.”

Siobhan Callas, Britflicks: “it’s full of thought provoking observations and snippets from films you may have never seen, but will now probably want to!”

Gareth Negus, blogging for MOSTLYFILM, has picked the film as one of his ten best of the EIFF, arguing that “I have a simple test when it comes to books or documentaries about film: they should tell me about films I had never previously heard of, and make me want to see them. Cousins’ work consistently does this.”

Dial M For Movies: “The wealth of knowledge and films shown, places Cousins near the top of the documentary genre.”

Steven Neish, HEY U GUYS.CO.UK!: ”A Story Of Children And Film is a true delight.”

Check pictures of the Q&A, right after the premiere of the film in Edinburgh here. On stage are Mark, Laura, Ben and Pasquale Iannone.

 

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ASOCAF gets its North American premiere at Toronto IFF

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced the line up of its 2013 edition. Great news is that A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM is going to have its North American premiere during this much anticipated festival of film lovers and international cinema aficionados.

ASOCAF is selected for the TIFF DOCS sections which is known for showing the best non-fiction cinema from around the world.

 

In Poland

baner2013en

 Two Riversides Film and Art Festival in Poland to screen ASOCAF.

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“A Story” Goes to Kosovo

Dokufest is an International Documentary and Short Film Festival that is held every year during August in Prizren, Kosovo. A STORY OF CHILDREN AND FILM, an official selection of the festival, will be shown there on 21, August at 16:00, Kino Europa Pllato. More information here.

 

Cambridge Screening

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The Cambridge Film Festival has announced ASOCAF among the films to be shown in the 33rd edition of the festival. More information on their website.

 

Visiting Telluride

TFF40

Mark has returned to his favorite film festival, Telluride in Colorado (celebrating its 40th anniversary), showing both ASOCAF and his new feature Here Be Dragons.

In the meantime, after screening of ASOCAF on the second day of the festival, a blogger from Telluride has written a terrific review, saying ”in addition to providing subjective insights about the nature of childhood, Mr. Cousin’s commentary points out technical details filmmakers have used to make a point, to create a mood, to elicit a psychological response from the viewer. Without pedantry, he speaks like a professor in love with his discipline, who wants the viewer to share his enthusiasm. In this he succeeds, and one leaves A Story of Children in Film more acutely aware of one’s own childhood, of the preciousness of youthful candor and spontaneity, and of cinema as an artful examiner of life. What a way to start a Telluride!”

 

Australian Premiere

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The Australian premiere of ASOCAF at the Adelaide Film Festival in October. We are thrilled to hear ASOCAF is selected as the festival closer!

A review from the Adelaide screening can be read here.

 

De Filmkrant

ASOCAF is in the list of five must-see recent films in the De Filmkrant website, a favorite Dutch film journal.

 

The UK cinema release planned for spring 2014

The ScreenDaily has published an exclusive article, breaking the exciting news of Dogwoof acquiring the rights to ASOCAF for its UK theatrical screening and DVD release.

The deal was brokered by Oli Harbottle, head of Distribution for Dogwoof, with Adam Dawtrey who has produced the film.

Read the story here.

 

More Reviews From Toronto IFF 2013:

Many more film writers, cinephiles and bloggers from north America have reflected on ASOCAF after its Telluride and Toronto screenings. Here you can access some of them:

  • Alex Ramon, Popmatters: “Cousins’s mellifluous musings merge wry humour with poetic intensity.”
  • Ryan McNeil, The Matinee: “[Scenes in the film] are more than just wonderful pieces of filmmaking, they are portraits of who children are…not how they have been told to act.”
  • David Acacia, International cinephile society: “The parallel between the antics of children and the development of film as an art form is striking.”
  • Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail: “The films’ clips are linked, not only by the categories but by visual motifs:The Yellow Balloon in bombed-out London, The Red Balloon in mid-fifties Paris, The White Balloon in modern Iran.”
  • Jordan M. Smith, IonCinema: “A Story of Children and Film takes us around the globe and through time to highlight cinematic greatness with the same brilliantly insightful wit, but this time Cousins looks for qualities sui generis to adolescence. Never before has his cinema so much resembled his written work. His vocational travels, written travails and cinematic inspiration seem to have coalesce in perfect harmony, forging a collage of intimately perceived and elegantly processed images that burn with a fire unique to the malleable and genuine age of youth.”

 

Video Interview with Mark about, among other things, ASOCAF

Fandor’s Keyframe has published a video interview with Mark which can be viewed here.

 

ASOCAF in Brazil

For its South American premiere, the film will be shown in the city of Rio de Janeiro. More info here.

 

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Mark interviewed by SBS

The lengthy interview which covers many different subjects on and around childhood is online here.

 

Other Recent Festival Screenings

 

Film Fest Gent in Belgium. A review in Dutch here.

Vancouver International Film Festival in Canada.

Doku Arts in Berlin.

Det Danske Filminstitut in Copenhagen.

 

Another Aussie Festival

The Brisbane International Film Festival is the second film fest in Australia which has picked ASOCAF for its new edition in November. The film’s page on the festival website can be accessed here.

 

Take One on ASOCAF

Amanda Randall has reviewed the film for Take One.

 

December Festivals

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The Good, the Bad, and the Critic

“Though there have been many books that analyze film and the significance of children in them, none can compare to Mark Cousins’ documentary A Story of Children and Film,” reads a great Canadian review of ASOCAF, written by Michael Carlisle for The Manitoban. Read it here.

 

The Irish Times Review

The Irish Times has called ASOCAF a “gorgeous, rigorously edited study of children in cinema.” Read Donald Clarke’s fantastic review here.

 

Wales One World Film Festival

David Anthony in his review of the film which, in his opinion, has been “a fitting opening feature for the WOW film festival” writes: “His documentary essay utterly embodies the spirit of this festival of world film by illustrating his ruminations on childhood’s representation in cinema with an eclectic mix of obscure titles from all over the globe.” The complete review is posted here on the Wales Arts Review website.

 

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the observer

List of UK cinemas screening A Story of Children and Film

 

A Story of Children and Film (2013) on IMDb

 

Films in the Story

400 Blows

François Truffaut, 1959, France
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Les Quatre Cent Coups:Truffaut's first feature length film is a moving portrayal of adolescence, loneliness, rebellion, cinephilia and freedom in the life of a young Parisian boy.

Alyonka

Boris Barnet, 1961, Soviet Union
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An Angel at My Table

Jane Campion, 1990, Australia
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Based on the autobiography of the same name by Jane Frame, New Zealand's most distinguished novelist, Campion evokes Frame's life - her impoverished childhood, growing interest in language, her shyness, diagnosis of schizophrenia, more than 200 electroshock treatment and battles with the mental health world - in a frontal, patient, and highly coloured way.

An Inn in Tokyo

Yasujirō Ozu, 1935, Japan
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Tokyo no yado:

Big Business

James W. Horne & Leo McCarey, 1929, US
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Laurel & Hardy are cinema's oldest kids. Even when they were really old the audience never wanted to believe this duo has anything to do with responsibilities of growing. Here they are shown at their most destructive, and of course their funniest!

The Boot

Mohammad-Ali Talebi, 1992, Iran
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Chakmeh:

Children in the Wind

Hiroshi Shimizu,1937, Japan
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Kaze no naka no kodomo:

Crows

Dorota Kedzierzawska, 1994, Poland
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Wrony:

Curly Top

Irving Cummings, 1935, US
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E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg, 1982, US
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Emil and the Detectives

Gerhard Lamprecht, 1931, Germany
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Emil und die Detektive:

Fanny and Alexander

Ingmar Bergman, 1982, Sweden
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Fanny och Alexander:

Finlandia

Erkki Karu, 1922, Finland
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The First Movie

Mark Cousins, 2009, UK
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Forbidden Games

René Clément, 1952, France
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Jeux Interdits

Frankenstein

James Whale, 1931, US
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Freedom Is Paradise

Sergei Bodrov, 1989, Soviet Union
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S.E.R. - Svoboda etorai:

Gasman

Lynne Ramsay, 1997, UK
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Great Expectations

David Lean, 1946, UK
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A Hometown in Heart

Yoon Yong-Kyu, 1949, South Korea
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Maeumui gohyang

Hugo and Josephine

Kjell Grede, 1967, Sweden
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Hugo och Josefin:

I Wish

Hirokazu Koreeda, 2011, Japan
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Kiseki:

Kauwboy

Boudewijn Koole, 2012, Netherlands
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Kes

Ken Loach, 1969, UK
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The Kid

Charles Chaplin, 1921, US
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The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

Djibril Diop Mambéty, 1999, Senegal
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La Petite Vendeuse de soleil:

Long Live the Republic

Karel Kachyna, 1965, Czechoslovakia
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At' zije Republika:

Los Olvidados

Luis Buñuel, 1950, Mexico
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Meet Me in St Louis

Vincente Minnelli, 1944, US
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Melody for a Street Organ

Kira Muratova, 2009, Ukraine
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Melodiya dlya sharmanki:

Mirror

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1975, Soviet Union
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Zerkalo:

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson, 2012, US
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A Mouse in the House

William Hanna & Joseph Barbera, 1947, US
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Moving

Shinji Sômai, 1993, Japan
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Ohikkoshi:

My Childhood

Bill Douglas, 1972, UK
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The Newest City in the World

Xhanfize Keko, 1974, Albania
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Qyteti më i ri në botë:

The Night of the Hunter

Charles Laughton, 1955, US
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Nobody Knows

Hirokazu Koreeda, 2004, Japan
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Dare mo shiranai:

Palle Alone in the World

Astrid Henning-Jensen, 1949, Denmark
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Palle alene i verden:

The Red Balloon

Albert Lamorisse, 1956, France
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Le Ballon Rouge:

The Ritual

Girish Kasaravalli, 1977, India
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Ghatashraddha:

The Spirit of the Beehive

Victor Erice, 1973, Spain
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El espíritu de la colmena:

The Steamroller and the Violin

Andrei Tarkovsky, 1961, Soviet Union
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Katok i skripka:

Ten Minutes Older

Herz Frank, 1978, Soviet Union
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Par desmit minutem vecaks:

Tomka and his Friends

Xhanfise Keko, 1977, Albania
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Tomka dhe shokët e tij:

Two Solutions for One Problem

Abbas Kiarostami, 1975, Iran
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Dow Rahehal Baraye yek Massaleh:

The Unseen

Miroslav Janek, 1996, Czech Republic
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Nespatřené:

The White Balloon

Jafar Panahi, 1995, Iran
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Badkonake sefid:

Willow and Wind

Mohammad-Ali Talebi, 1999, Iran
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Beed-o baad:

Yaaba

Idrissa Ouedraogo, 1989, Burkina Faso
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The Yellow Balloon

J. Lee Thompson, 1953, UK
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Yellow Earth

Chen Kaige, 1984, China
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Huang tu di:

Zéro de conduite

Jean Vigo, 1933, France
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Manifesto

The Essay Film
A Manifesto
by Mark Cousins

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In the last two years I have made three essay films – What is This Film Called Love?, A Story of Children and Film, and Here be Dragons. In the next year, I will make two more – I am Belfast and Stockholm My Love.

In making these, and watching many more – by Anand Patwardhan and Agnes Varda, for example – and after reading Philip Lopate’s book on the essay, I started to make a mental list of the elements of, and the principles behind, essay films. This list is a kind of manifesto.

1
A fiction film is a bubble. An essay film bursts it.

2
An essay film takes an idea for a walk.

3
Essay films are visual thinking.

4
Essay films reverse film production: the images come first, the script, last.

5
Filming an essay is gathering, like a carpenter gathers wood.

6
A fiction film is a car, an essay film is a bike; it can nip up an alleyway, you can feel the wind in its hair.

7
A road movie has outer movement, an essay film has inner movement.

8
An essay film is the opposite of fly on the wall.

9
An essay film can go anywhere, and should.

10
Two essay films should be made every year. Why? Because, after F for Fake, Orson Welles said this to Henry Jaglom during lunch at Ma Maison: “I could have made an essay film – two of ‘em a year, you see. On different subjects. Various variations of that form.”

11
Commentary is to the essay film, what dance is to the musical.

12
All essay films would be improved by a clip of Dietrich (see Marcel Ophuls).

13
An essay film cannot create the atmosphere of Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard;
A fiction film cannot explain that atmosphere.

14
Even Hollywood makes essay films – look at DW Griffith’s Intolerance.

15
Essay films are what Astruc dreamt of.

16
Digital had made Astruc’s dream come true.

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