‘The Self-Portrait in the Moving Image’, Birkbeck Cinema,
 Friday 28 February & Saturday 1 March 2014

Within the large field of first-person film and video (including autobiography, diary films, travelogues, video letters), self-portraiture is a singular form that does not consist so much of an account of the filmmaker’s intimate life as a representation of the artist by her/himself, at a given instant of her/his work. A very common practice in painting, self-portrait is more difficult to define in the moving image. It is a hybrid form, which has flourished in recent years and does not fit in with the traditional definition of documentary or fiction, as it breaks the canons of both genres. The investigative and self-reflexive stance of the self-portrait raises questions about the issue of intimacy (which ‘self’?), the appearance and corporeality of the subject (which face? which body? which voice?) and the medium itself (which film to make? for whom is it made?).

This event proposes to reassess the practice of self-portraiture in the moving image by showcasing and discussing a broad variety of films, including works by Robert Kramer, Aleksandr Sokurov, Jonas Mekas, Vincent Dieutre, Jack Hazan, Chantal Akerman, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, and Sarah Turner. It will also be an opportunity to discover some rarely screened experimental films, which will be projected in 16mm.

Invited participants:

  • Cecilia Sayad (University of Kent), author of Performing Authorship: Self-Inscription and Corporeality in the Cinema (I.B. Tauris, 2013)
  • Laura Rascaroli (University College, Cork), author of The Personal Camera: Subjective Cinema and the Essay Film (Wallflower Press, 2009)
  • Alisa Lebow (University of Sussex), editor of The Cinema of Me: the Self and Subjectivity in First Person Documentary (Columbia University Press, 2012) and author of First Person Jewish (Minnesota, 2008)

Organised by Laura Busetta (PhD The Self-Portrait Film, Sapienza University of Rome, 2013), Marlène Monteiro (PhD candidate Exposed Intimacy, Birkbeck College), and Muriel Tinel-Temple (PhD The Filmic Self-Portrait, EHESS-Paris, 2004).


Two-day ticket: £12 (concessions £8). Friday only: £5 (concessions £3). Saturday only: £10 (concessions £7). To purchase tickets for this event, please go to: https://www2.bbk.ac.uk/bimi/

Full details of programme: