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The Audiovisual Thinking Process in Contemporary Essay Films (ed.) Comparative Cinema 10(18) (2022)

Monterrubio Ibáñez, Lourdes; Català Domènech, Josep Maria; Rascaroli, Laura; Kouvaros, George; Bacqué, Bertrand

Born out of modern cinema, the essay film departed from the dominant forms of fiction and documentary cinema in order to explore an unknown territory defined by subjectivity, hybridization and reflection, evolving to become “a form that thinks,” as Jean-Luc Godard defined it. The final decades of the twentieth century witnessed the consolidation of the essay film, which was enabled by postmodern thought and culture, as well as by the development of video recording technology. In this mode, works by Chris Marker, Roberto Rossellini, Orson Welles, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jonas Mekas, Harun Farocki, Agnès Varda, Wim Wenders, Guy Maddin, Peter Watkins, Chantal Akerman, Alexander Kluge or Johan van der Keuken, among many others, developed a practice of audiovisual thinking for which Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988−1998) could be considered the epitome, marking a turning point that also took place at the end of the century. Over the last twenty years, this essayistic practice has proliferated due to the digital revolution, facilitating diverse experiences of subjectivity and intimacy, and multiplying the possibilities of audiovisual editing; that is, of the very thinking process that defines this filmic form. Taking this itinerary into account, this issue proposes to analyze the manifestations of the contemporary essay film in relation to its audiovisual thinking process in search of the connotations, tendencies, specificities and transformations of this audiovisual form in the twenty-first century.

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