Will DiGravio interviews Catherine Grant for THE VIDEO ESSAY PODCAST!

Will DiGravio just published Episode 2 of his new show THE VIDEO ESSAY PODCAST, which features a truly in depth interview with me about the detail of how I make my work, and in particular about how I made my recent video essay The Haunting of THE HEADLESS WOMAN.

The Haunting of THE HEADLESS WOMAN from Catherine Grant on Vimeo.

49 minutes in, we also get to talk about our love for one of my favourite video essays: Cydnii Harris‘s COTTON:THE FABRIC OF GENOCIDE.

Cotton – The Fabric of Genocide from Cydnii Harris on Vimeo.

Thanks, Will, for your enthusiasm, knowledge and advocacy of this form – I’m going to love following the podcast!

(Next episode in two weeks: Philip J. Brubaker gets the THE VIDEO ESSAY PODCAST treatment!)


My Year’s Work in the Audiovisual Essay and Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies: 2017 Edition

2017 has been a momentous year, work-wise, for me.

Below are links to my online publications (including video essays, recorded talks and interviews) and a list of my public lectures. I made quite a few more audiovisual essays than those listed here, several of which will be published in 2018.

So, please continue to watch (and listen to) this space!

I also continued to curate for Audiovisualcy, and to co-edit [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, which has published three issues so far in 2017.

Catherine Grant in Conversation with John Gibbs

“Catherine Grant was to be a keynote speaker at Videographic Film Studies Now, a workshop organised by John Gibbs at the University of Reading in April 2017. As events transpired, the workshop clashed with the interview for what was to become her new post of Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies at Birkbeck. She travelled to Reading in advance to record this In Conversation which was then screened in the cinema at the Minghella Studios as part of the workshop. It also means that we can now share her thoughts with a wider audience more effectively than would be possible with a more conventional keynote appearance.”

‘Videographic Star Studies and the “Late Voice”: Carrie Fisher, John Hurt and Jeanne Moreau’, In Media Res, September 1, 2017. Online at: http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/imr/2017/08/15/videographic-star-studies-and-late-voice-carrie-fisher-john-hurt-and-jeanne-moreau

‘Star Studies in Transition: Notes on Experimental Videographic Approaches to Film Performance’, Cinema Journal, Volume 56, Issue 4, 2017. Open Access PDF:  http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.cmstudies.org/resource/resmgr/in_focus_archive/InFocus_56-4.pdf

‘Creative Possibilities’, Viewfinder, July 4th, 2017. Online at: http://bufvc.ac.uk/articles/creative-possibilities

‘Looking at To-Be-Looked-at-Ness: Feminist Videographic Criticism’, [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film and Moving Image Studies, 4.1, 2017. Online at: http://mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/intransition/2017/03/12/looking-be-looked-ness-feminist-videographic-criticism


(October 2017): The above video was the latest part of my ongoing sensuous-methological research on the STELLA DALLAS adaptations and their relationship to the forms and affects of the maternal melodrama. You can read about the first instalment in this project in “The Marriages of Laurel Dallas: Or, The Maternal Melodrama of the Unknown Feminist Film Spectator”, MEDIASCAPE, Fall 2014. Online at: tft.ucla.edu/mediascape/Fall2014_MarriagesMelodrama.html (this essay has been translated into Spanish by Cristina Álvarez López and published here: cinentransit.com/las-bodas-de-laurel-dallas/)

THRESHOLDS (For Tobe Hooper)

A rapidly and roughly-made–but heartfelt–tribute to director Tobe Hooper (1943-2017) and to three magisterial moments that most terrified me from his work. Assembled on the day of Hooper’s death.

NOT A GRANDE DAME (For Jeanne Moreau)

In memory of Jeanne Moreau (1928-2017).

A video tribute to the intelligence and humility of her acting, made on the morning of the news of her death.

Featuring a film sequence from ASCENSEUR POUR L’ÉCHAFAUD/ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (Louis Malle, 1958, with music by Miles Davis), and segments from an interview Jeanne Moreau participated in with Charlie Rose in 2002 (online here: https://youtu.be/Q1MIYbuV6fk).

AT THE LIMIT (Or, Vice Versa)

Some Deleuzian film-material thinking or -voyaging:

‘The libido does not undergo metamorphoses, but follows world-historical trajectories. From this point of view, it does not seem that the real and the imaginary form a pertinent distinction. A real voyage, by itself, lacks the force necessary to be reflected in the imagination; the imaginary voyage, by itself, does not have the force, as Proust says, to be verified in the real. This is why the imaginary and the real must be, rather, like two juxtaposable or superimposable parts of a single trajectory, two faces that ceaselessly interchange with one another, a mobile mirror. Thus the Australian Aborigines link nomadic itineraries to dream voyages, which together compose “an interstitching of routes” .. “in an immense cut-out [découpé) of space and time that must be read like a map.” At the limit, the imaginary is a virtual image that is inter-fused with the real object, and vice versa, thereby constituting a crystal of the unconscious. It is not enough for the real object or the real landscape to evoke similar or related images; it must disengage its own virtual image at the same time that the latter, as an imaginary landscape, makes its entry into the real, following a circuit where each of the two terms pursues the other, is interchanged with the other. “Vision” is the product of this doubling or splitting in two (doublement ou dedoublement], this coalescence. It is in such crystals of the unconscious that the trajectories of the libido are made visible.’

Text from Gilles Deleuze, “What Children Say,”, ESSAYS CRITICAL AND CLINICAL (London: Verso, 1998), pp. 62-3.

Remixed Film: Bits & Pieces nr. 352: New York, man met camera op wolkenkrabber in aanbouw (Eye Film Instituut Nederland, 2011). Online at: https://www.openbeelden.nl/media/104841/BP352_New_York_man_met_camera_op_wolkenkrabber_in_aanbouw

Music: “Velvet Ladder” by Blue Dot Sessions (Free Music Archive Attribution-NonCommercial License. Online at: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Blue_Dot_Sessions/TinyTiny_Trio/Velvet_Ladder)

Thanks for the inspiration to Stanisław Liguziński and Nadine Boljkovac.


A follow up to my tiny video-curio SPARKLE (about PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and Carol Morley’s THE FALLING), a new remix-comparison of moments in Jonathan MIller’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND (BBC, 1966): https://vimeo.com/157653540). Also related to this video: EFFACE: https://vimeo.com/104309443.

Reordered verses from  William Wordsworth. 1770–1850, 536. ODE:
Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. (See full version here: http://www.bartleby.com/101/536.html)


A video about the ending of Lucrecia Martel’s LA NIÑA SANTA / THE HOLY GIRL (2004), using insights about the film from Deborah Martin’s book THE CINEMA OF LUCRECIA MARTEL (Manchester University Press, 2016) and Sophie Mayer’s chapter ‘Gutta cavat lapidem: The sonorous politics of Lucrecia Martel’s swimming pools’, in THE CINEMA OF THE SWIMMING POOL, eds. Christopher Brown and Pam Hirsch (Peter Lang, 2014). FOR STUDY PURPOSES ONLY – NO SIGNIFICANT SPOILERS.

The video is dedicated to pioneering queer and feminist film curator and critic B. Ruby Rich, one of the foremost advocates of the work of LA NIÑA SANTA’s director, and much other queer New Argentine, and Latin American Cinema. Rich’s career is being justly celebrated at a screening and discussion event taking place between June 21-25, 2017, at the Barbican Cinema (and other London venues) as part of their 2017 Film in Focus season. The event is entitled ‘Being Ruby Rich’ and is sponsored by Film London and co-curated by Club des Femmes, the queer-feminist film curating collective. LA NIÑA SANTA, a film championed by Rich, alongside Martel’s other films, will be screened with an introduction by Sophie Mayer at the Barbican Cinema on Sunday, June 25, at 6pm. For further information, see http://www.clubdesfemmes.com/portfolio-item/ruby-rich-22-25-june-2017-save-date/.

Also see the following online celebration of Rich’s work (with lots of links to accessible resources) here: http://filmstudiesforfree.blogspot.com/2017/06/richly-resourceful-on-bruby-richs-work.html


LOVE ACTUALLY provides a rich vein of cosmopolitan material, reworked here for some post-Brexit reflections and lamentations.

All film clips from LOVE ACTUALLY (Richard Curtis, UK. 2003)

MUSIC: Realismo Visceral by Monplaisir, shared under a CC0 1.0 Universal License at the Free Music Archive: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Monplaisir/Baisers_de_Sonora/Monplaisir__Cie_-_FAWM2017_-_11_Realismo_Visceral

SPOKEN WORDS: From “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” (1966) by William Weatherspoon, Paul Riser, and James Dean (lyricist)

HURT VOICES (For John Hurt)

A rough and ready lament for the loss of John Hurt (22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017) and much else.

HURT VOICES from: DOCTOR WHO (“The Day of the Doctor”) BBC Enterprises, 2013; 1984 (Michael Radford, 1984, plus images); THE NAKED CIVIL SERVANT (Jack Gold, 1975); THE ELEPHANT MAN (David Lynch, 1980); MERLIN (“Diamond of the Day”, Pt 2), BBC Enterprises, 2012.

MUSIC: BONSOIR by Mon Plaisir, Shared under a CC0 1.0 Universal License at the Free Music Archive: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Monplaisir/Lack_of_Feedback/Monplaisir_-_Lack_of_Feedback_-_01_Bonsoir

VIDEO: Catherine Grant, January 28, 2017

MOVIE MOTHER (For Debbie Reynolds & Carrie Fisher)

In Memory of Debbie Reynolds (1932-2016) & Carrie Fisher (1956-2016). Featuring Reynolds singing ‘A Home In The Meadow’ from HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1962). Photograph via Mabelman’s Old Hollywood: https://m.facebook.com/503036713042457/photos/pb.503036713042457.-2207520000.1482976376./1408438325835620/?type=3&theater.

Video by Catherine Grant, December 29, 2016

SIMULACRUM (For Carrie Fisher)

Made in memory of Carrie Fisher (1956-2016) on the day after she died (December 28, 2016).

MUSIC: SIMPLE by ORBIQUE Licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License at the Free Music Archive. http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Orbique/none_given_1578/17_-_orbique_-_simple_-_always_now_never_after

IMAGES and AUDIO FRAGMENTS captured and remixed from “Hollywood wild child Carrie Fisher bares all” (https://youtu.be/EMv8XyJFcik), “Princess Leia” GIF (http://giphy.com/gifs/star-wars-princess-leia-vmZ1JygedN6us) and “Carrie Fisher Accidentally Holograms Jimmy Kimmel (https://youtu.be/AW5aDJczD1g)

Keynote Addresses, Invited Lectures, Selected Seminars and Screenings in 2017

Participant in Trinh T. Minh-ha Symposium, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, December 3, 2017

“On Lucrecia Martel, audiovisually,” University of Exeter Film Studies research seminar series 2017/18, November 27, 2017

Participant at Fair Dealing conference, Birkbeck Cinema, Birkbeck School of Arts/Derek Jarman Lab, November 24, 2017 (talk online here and here)

Participant at Film and Fair Dealing event, Birkbeck School of Arts/Derek Jarman Lab, November 6, 2017

“Critical practice on the move: audiovisual approaches to cinema and screen media studies,” Opening Keynote Lecture at SOCINE XXI, the 21st annual conference of the Sociedade Brasileira de Estudos de Cinema e Audiovisual, October17-20,  2017, UFPB, João Pessoa, Brazil.

“Sensuous Methodologies: Or, What can we do with the audiovisual essay?” seminar at the University of the West of England, October 25, 2017

“On Lucrecia Martel, videographically, “Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Studies research seminar series 2017/18, King’s College, University of London. October 4, 2017

“The Rise of the Video Essay in Film Studies,” British Film Institute Library, October  2, 2017.

“Sensuous Methodologies: Or, What can we do with the audiovisual essay?”, Face of Terror Workshop, September 11-13, 2017, NTNU Trondheim, Norway

Participant in the Film Criticism in Motion: Audiovisual Explorations on Film round table event, Locarno Festival, Switzerland, August 6, 2017.

Five of my audiovisual essays curated in the Interfaces, Bodies, Gazes programme by Daniela Persico, Locarno Festival, Switzerland, August 6, 2017.

Guest Presenter and Scholar-Artist in Residence at the National Endowment for the Humanities funded, two week-long event on Scholarship in Sound and Image: Producing Videographic Criticism in the Digital Age – A Workshop at Middlebury College, Vermont, USA, June 2017

“What can the Audiovisual Portrait-Homage do for Film Star Studies?,”Keynote at the annual conference of the Associação de Investigadores da Imagem em Movimento (AIM), Universidade do Minho (Braga), Portugal, May 10-13, 2017.

“Audiovisual Film Studies and Videographic Criticism,”Keynote lecture at “Videographic Film Studies Now”, a one-day workshop for colleagues from across the university sector working in videographic film, television and screen studies, Department of Film, Theatre & Television, University of Reading, April 3, 2017 (see video above).

Perfidious Albion, an Essay Film Festival programme, curated by Catherine Grant and Sarah Wood, Birkbeck Cinema, March 29, 2017

“Star Studies in Transition: Notes on Experimental Videographic Approaches to Film Performance,” Invited research seminar, Penn State University, Philadelphia, USA, March 21, 2017

“Sensuous Metholodologies: Audiovisual Film Studies”, Invited research seminar and workshop, Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA, March 20, 2017

“What can the Audiovisual Portrait-Homage do for Film Star Studies?,” Invited research seminar, University College Cork, Ireland, February 6, 2017


Video essays and roundtable at the 70th Locarno Festival

20664083_10211254059799747_5167115746637010626_nI was very honoured to be invited by Locarno Festival Critics Academy director and festival programmer Daniela Persico (one half of the marvellous Filmidée film criticism and film education duo) to screen some recent and new video works and participate in several roundtables and workshops at this year’s festival in southern Switzerland.

Five of my audiovisual essays (see below) were curated in the Interfaces, Bodies, Gazes programme by Persico, alongside a selection of videographic works by Kevin B. Lee and Oswald Iten. The screening programme followed the Film Criticism in Motion: Audiovisual Explorations on Film round table event on August 6th, 2017, which also featured my collaborator and [in]Transition co-editor colleague Chiara Grizzaffi, who presented the trailer for the fantastic Per una controstoria del cinema italiano project.

  • The Secret Thoughts of Laura Jesson (as Voiced by Celia Johnson) (2017), 5’ 53’’
  • Beast Fables 1: “Your mother can’t be with you any more” (2017), 2’ 57’’
  • Beast Fables 4: “You should have told me, Mother” (2017), 5’ 56’’
  • Beast Fables 5: “You’re so very cruel” (2017), 2’
  • Therese & Carol & Alec & Laura (A Brief Encounter) (2015), 1’ 19’’
Screenshot from BEAST FABLES 4
Screenshot from Beast Fables 4: “You should have told me, Mother” (Catherine Grant, 2017),

My Year’s Work in Audiovisual Essays and Videographic Film Studies

Below is a list of the thirteen videos I have made and formally published in the last twelve months. There are a few unlisted ones that I made and haven’t yet published: these should see the light of online day in the next calendar year.

It’s actually been quite a slow year for me on the production front as I had a lot of teaching as well as editorial and curatorial work at [in]TransitionREFRAME, and elsewhere. In 2017 I hope to make more research-related videos, and also to work on some longer pieces, as I am fortunate to have a six-month long paid study leave (the second such period in my twenty-five years as an academic). #newyearsresolutions.

  • SPARKLE: A tiny video-remix comparison of some glimmering audio/visual moments from Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975), The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999) and The Falling (Carol Morley, 2014). https://vimeo.com/157653540
  • THE PERSISTENCE OF VISION: A video tribute to the work of film scholar Elizabeth Cowie, featuring Morocco, Now, Voyager and Let There Be Light, as well as the voices and choices of Andrew Klevan, Christine Evans, Coral Houtman and Sarah Wood https://vimeo.com/169120246
  • MATCHES – featuring Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios / Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988) https://vimeo.com/178181337



Online Film Audio-Commentaries and Video Essays Of Note

In Film Studies For Free‘s humble opinion, one of the most exciting online areas for potential Film Studies‘ development is rapidly emerging from the already hugely popular Web 2.0 practice of video-sharing. It has never been easier to publically display work in which moving (and still) image-tracks, created by others, can be ‘overlaid’ with one’s own recorded words/sounds/text, to create web ‘video-essays’ or online ‘audio-commentaries’.

The practical/technical side of this activity should provide few challenges for the YouTube generation: the main issue to consider in relation to the educational uses of such ‘user-generated’ resources is, as ever, that of the quality of content. But there are plenty of noteworthy models around, from which Film Studies teachers and students can gain insight and inspiration, such as Susana Medina‘s excellent video essay on fetishism in the work of Luis Buñuel, embedded above (and also available on MySpace and at the Internet Archive).

To celebrate these developments, and to support them in a small way, Film Studies For Free has created a new (right-hand margin) list of links to freely accessible online audio commentaries, video essays, and ‘alternative’ DVD commentaries. The list currently links to the following websites: Shooting Down Pictures; Susana Medina, ‘Buñuel’s Philosophical Toys’; Listology List of Best Fan Commentaries (until 2005); Sean Weitner and Andy Ross on Mulholland Drive; Whiggles.com on Suspiria and Profondo Rosso; and Renegade Commentaries. Suggestions of other websites or items of this kind are, as ever, warmly welcomed.

By far the richest website resource in this area, to date, is the one at the head of FSFF‘s current list: Kevin B. Lee‘s fabulous Shooting Down Pictures. As GreenCine Daily rightfully testified back in July 2008 (when Film Studies For Free was barely a twinkle in this neophyte blogger’s eye): ‘For some time now, Kevin B Lee‘s video essays have been among the most exciting developments in film blogging, suggesting not an alternative but supplemental form of film criticism accessible to anyone online.’

Lee is a filmmaker and multimedia producer based in New York City. Shooting Down Pictures primarily serves as a repository for a wide variety of materials connected with his project of viewing every film on the list of 1000 greatest films of all time, as compiled by They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? Rather than simply writing about, or gathering pre-existing resources together for these films — both of which Lee does brilliantly, it must be said — he also makes video essays about them and commissions others to provide their own audio commentaries, including ones by such luminaries as Nicole Brenez, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Paolo Cherchi Usai, Richard Brody, Karina Longworth, Andy Horbal, Mike D’Angelo, Matt Zoller Seitz, Preston Miller, Vadim Rizov, and Girish Shambu.
The current full list of video essays by Shooting Down Pictures is given below, but also check out the video index Lee maintains at YouTube where these and many other videos by him, or fabulously ‘mashed up’ by him, are hosted.

After a recent flurry of literally feverish activity, Film Studies For Free is going to take a richly-deserved, two-week break so that its cold-ridden author can become fully healthy once more, and go off to deliver a talk on her own work (which is not totally unconnected to the focus of today’s blog post, as it happens). In the meantime, FSFF leaves you with a little video essay by Lee and Dan Sallitt on another of this blog’s favourite filmmakers (alongside Buñuel), Claude Chabrol. Adieu, pour le moment…