Writing with images: The Film-Photo-Essay, the Left Bank Group and the pensive moment

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Journal Article
Journal of Screenwriting, 2015, 5 (1), pp. 59 - 84
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© 2014 Intellect Ltd Article. This article is focused on the film-photo-essay form. The first part of the article is a narrative account of my experiments ‘writing with images’ in the early and mid-2000s, using (the then) new digital tools to make film-photo-essays. My account reflects on how the change from analogue to digital affected my approach to photography, film-making and writing with images. I then look at the case study of Siberia (2009), an illustrated script that was written following my experimentation with the film-photo-essay form. The second part of this article is a more general enquiry into the film-photo-essay form and work that combines cinema and photography. I discuss the contemporary interest in work that falls on a spectrum between photography and cinema; often referred to as ‘still/moving’. I then focus on the ‘Left Bank Group’, whose work often combined cinema, photography and the literary and philosophical essay. Examples from the ‘cine-writing’ of Alain Resnais, Agnes Varda and Chris Marker highlight how Raymond Bellour’s idea of the ‘pensive moment’ is apt in relation to their work. I argue that still/moving forms allow more space for audience interaction and emotional response than conventional narrative cinema; and in a world saturated with information and cluttered with images, there is an important place for new pensive hybrid art forms.
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