Essay Film Festival 2018

Sunday 25 March 2018, 14:30
The Third Part of the Third Measure
The Otolith Group, 2017
HD video, 43 minutes – UK cinema premiere.

Having previously shown their work at the inaugural Essay Film Festival in 2015, The Otolith Group return this year with the UK cinema premiere of their latest film, The Third Part of the Third Measure, an essay about the work of Julius Eastman, the queer African-American avant-garde composer, pianist, vocalist and conductor. From the late 1960s until his death in 1990 at the age of 49, Eastman wrote and performed compositions whose ecstatic militant minimalism initiated a black radical aesthetic that revolutionized the East Coast new music scene of the 1970s and 1980s.

No recordings of Eastman’s compositions were released during his lifetime.

Cinema One, ICA Book here


Sunday 25 March 2018, 20:15
Luz obscura,
Susana de Sousa Dias, Portugal, 2017,
DCP, 76 minutes, Portuguese with English subtitles – UK premiere.

Susana de Sousa Dias’s Luz obscura – literally ‘obscure light’ – is a highly sensitive and beautifully crafted essay film about the lives of political prisoners during Portugal’s Salazar dictatorship (1926-1974), and the devastating effects this repression had on their children.

Materially the film is constructed from two main sources: the photographs of the prisoners taken by the Portuguese state police, the PIDE, and the recorded testimony of the prisoners’ children recalling their experiences. In the hands of Sousa Dias, this formal combination is devastatingly simple and effective, a model of filmic rigour and intelligence, as she carefully allows these powerful materials to unfold their story of persecution, imprisonment, torture, secrecy, and separation.

Cinema One, ICA Book here


Monday 26 March, 12noon-18:00
You Know the Way and the Language : Public Spaces | Buildings | Engagement

Jef Cornelis made over 200 films for the Belgian public service broadcaster, BRT (Belgische Radio- en Televisieomroep). Most of these made-for TV films were about artists and art exhibitions, while others experiments in television broadcasting: the blending of art- and documentary styles, the tension between audial and visual discourses, an intervention into the public domain through representing civic life, national identity, heritage and nation building, and a dialogic encounter with TV viewers and a national citizenry. This highly original body of TV work, both in its engagement with its subject and the formal possibilities of TV, are seldom shown; and this event will centre on an even lesser-known aspect of Cornelis’ work, his TV films about architecture, public spaces and social housing, forms of social living, urbanity and rurality made for Belgium public service television.

Birkbeck Cinema: FREE event
Book here


Wednesday 28 March 2018, 12:00
Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot
Barbara McCullough, 2017
HD Video, 72 minutes – UK premiere.

Barbara McCullough’s Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot is a portrait of the late musical genius and community activist Horace Tapscott. The film reflects on the connections made through black music to local activism in Los Angeles and to questions of pan-Africanism. Historically the figure of the griot is a storyteller, and this is how Tapscott is presented, telling the story of his life through the development of the Los Angeles Jazz scene.

McCullough’s film portrait of Horace Tapscott is informed by a similar set of concerns, embedding the inspirational musician into the fabric of the LA Rebellion.

Birkbeck Cinema: FREE event Book here


Wednesday 28 March 2018, 20:35
No intenso agora
João Moreira Salles, 2017
DCP, 127 minutes, Portuguese, with English subtitles – UK premiere.

A personal and historical essay film about the intensely dramatic political landscape of the late 1960s, João Moreira Salles’s No intenso agora moves between his family history, notably the holiday movies shot by his mother on a visit to Maoist China at the time of the Cultural Revolution, and a wide range of archival footage recording some of the student-led protest movements and quasi-revolutionary events that nearly turned the world upside down in the summer of 1968.

With the fiftieth anniversary of France’s May ’68 on the horizon, No intenso agora provides an original and by no means uncritical perspective on the much-celebrated Parisian student protests that are often presented as the epicentre of a global earthquake of strikes, demonstrations and riots that spread across Europe and the world in the late 1960s.

Cinema One, ICA
Book here


Map and transport details
Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image,
43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

ICA, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH


Films in collaboration with The Essay Film Festival, Courtisane Film Festival and with the support of Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the National Film Development Corporation of India.


The Otolith Group, The Third Part of the Third Measure, 2017. Film still.


Project Category
film programme