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Essay Film and Narrative Technique: First Symposium of the BAFTSS ‘Essay Film’ Research Group

Saturday 18 November 2017, 10.00AM to Sunday 19th, 4pm

Call for Papers deadline for abstracts: 30 September 2017

Venue: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, University of York

Organised by: BAFTSS & The Interdisciplinary Centre for Narrative Studies 

The Essay film is defined as a very special kind of non-fiction, which employs fictional techniques. There is very little research on the way these films are scripted and how screenwriting comes into play in the phase of the film’s development. Documentary scripts rarely make it into the BFI library archives, as their minor collection testifies. The first aim of the symposium is to address this problem and develop an understanding of the work done in this area. The second aim of the symposium is to develop collaborations for the fostering of further research.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Laura Rascaroli.


Abstracts are invited on topics related to Screenwriting Non-fiction and Narrative Techniques in the Essay Film, including but not limited to:

  • Archival research: finding the scripts
  • Testimony translated into script
  • The process of writing for the essay film
  • Screenwriting and the personal camera
  • Screenwriting animation in the essay film
  • New forms of scripts
  • The blurred boundaries between narrative techniques and screenwriting
  • Voice-over as script
  • The presence of the author in word
  • The relationship between documentary and essay film
  • The essay-film: from treatment to production
  • The absence of the screenplay in the essay film


Proposal acceptance notification: 15th October 2017.

Abstract submission: Please submit your abstract (max 300 words) along with key references, institutional affiliation and a short bio (max 150 words) or a panel proposal, including a panel presentation (max 300 words) along with minimum 2, maximum 3 individual abstracts.


Send the Abstract to Romana Turina (

Symposium Organisers: Romana Turina (University of York), Richard Walsh (University of York)


Location: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, University of York