The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction

Nora M. Alter

Columbia University Press

The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction

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Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231178211

416 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£24.95

Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231178204

416 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

Pub Date: January 2018

ISBN: 9780231545983

416 Pages

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List Price: $29.99£24.95

The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction

Nora M. Alter

Columbia University Press

Nora M. Alter reveals the essay film to be a hybrid genre that fuses the categories of feature, art, and documentary film. Like its literary predecessor, the essay film draws on a variety of forms and approaches; in the process, it fundamentally alters the shape of cinema. The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction locates the genre’s origins in early silent cinema and follows its transformation with the advent of sound, its legitimation in the postwar period, and its multifaceted development at the turn of the millennium. In addition to exploring the broader history of the essay film, Alter addresses the innovative ways contemporary artists such as Martha Rosler, Isaac Julien, Harun Farocki, John Akomfrah, and Hito Steyerl have taken up the essay film in their work.
For many years, Nora Alter has been our most brilliant advocate of the essay film as an open genre that floats between documentary, fiction, and the art film. The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction is the first comprehensive survey of this difficult and experimental genre in both its historical context and variable aesthetic manifestations. The depth and complexity of Alter’s account of the essay film’s critical force and aesthetic innovations will not soon be surpassed. D. N. Rodowick, Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago
This magisterial study marks a milestone in scholarship on the most intellectually expansive and unpredictable film genre of the last half-century. Global in scope, Alter’s book displays the essay film's astonishing richness of forms and functions from its beginnings in the 1920s to contemporary art installations. Both a reliable history and a sharp-eyed investigation, The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction is indispensable for anyone interested in the past and future of nonfiction cinema. Anton Kaes, University of California, Berkeley
The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction is unfailingly lucid, balanced, and informed. Alter provides generous and illuminating analyses of specific films, filmmakers, and decisive shifts in the arts and media history. Her book is a definitive guide to the multiple modes of production and global contexts of a vital tradition that continues to enrich contemporary culture and nurture critical thought. Edward Dimendberg, University of California, Irvine
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Beginnings
2. Speaking Essays or Interruptions
3. The Essay Film as Archive and Repository of Memories
4. The Essay Film as the Fourth Estate
5. The Artist Essay: Expanding the Field and the Turn to Video
6. New Migrations: Third Cinema and the Essay Film
7. Beyond the Cinematic Screen: Installations and the Internet
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Nora M. Alter is professor of comparative film and media studies in the School of Theater, Film, and Media Arts at Temple University. She is author of Vietnam Protest Theatre: The Television War on Stage (1996); Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967–2000 (2002); and Chris Marker (2006). She is also coeditor with Timothy Corrigan of Essays on the Essay Film (Columbia, 2017).