Essay Film and Narrative Techniques: Screen-Writing Non-fiction

Ed. collection, 11. February 2019.

Call for Chapters

Edited by Romana Turina and Kiki Tianqi Yu

Essay film has increasingly become an inclusive notion, usually emphasising the subjective expression of the filmmaker, through various forms of narrative techniques, often merging the fiction with nonfiction. With the growing attention on essay films in film festival circuits and academic world, however, little research has been done on the phase of the film’s development, when what we call essay films are going through the ‘screen-writing’ process, a stage when various forms of image collecting, script (re)writing and film (re)editing are involved, contributing the presentation of the final film. In addition, essayistic non-fiction scripts and the documentation of editing procedures rarely make it into the archives, as the presence of very minor collections testifies. Following on the work of the BAFTSS Essay Film Research Group, the Symposium held at the University of York (November 2017), the workshop held at the London Essay Film Festival in collaboration with The Derek Jarman Lab (March 2018), and the essay film panel at BAFTSS Annual Conference (April 2018), which lay the foundations for this book, we are looking for chapters that have a specific focus on the actual development process for essayistic nonfictions. The call is open to international filmmakers, artists, screenwriters, and scholars of all backgrounds, countries and regions, but the contributions need to be written in English.

The collection is intended to explore singular instance of different methods of screen-writing for the essay film form and present a diverse set of analyses of canonical and unconventional approaches enabling the production, both as an expression of personal camera, collaborative/collective work, and experimental work where the boundaries between different art forms blurs and merges. We are looking for contributions from filmmakers and practice-led/based researchers, to share their reflections on their production process, either mainstream or niche practices, and also insights from scholars approaching the production contexts of essay films in varying forms, single screen or installations. Production diaries/notes, and interviews with filmmakers are welcome, especially when these materials are supported by conceptualisation, contextualisation or comparison between different development processes. We also welcome reflections on the relationship between traditional scriptwriting and editing, as part of ‘screen-writing’ paths. 

The topic might include but do not need to be limited to:

• The process of ‘writing’ essay film
• To break the boundaries: editing or scriptwriting
• Different methods of Screen-writing process
• Voice-over and different use of languages
• Screen-writing and the personal camera
• The use of animation and photography and other art forms in essay films
• The presence/absence of the author
• Collective and collaborative screen-writing processes
• The essay-film: the literary in motion
• Narrative and non-narrative techniques in essay films
• The absence of the screenplay
• Ideas in motion: the screenplay in flux
• From science to story: when the essay film is translating science into visual storytelling.

 Please e-mail abstracts (250-300 words) plus author bios (100 words per author) to:

Romana Turina ( and/or

Kiki Tianqi Yu (

by Monday 11 February 2019.

Draft chapters (5000-6000 words) are likely to be due in July 2019, with a final delivery date envisioned for January 2020. 


My very best wishes,

Dr.​  Romana Turina
Senior Lecturer Film