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Essay Film as a Dialogical Form


Naz Önen

Başkent University of Ankara, Faculty of Communication, Communication and Design Department, TR
About Naz

Naz Önen works as a Research Assistant in Başkent University's Communication and Design Department. Currently a Ph.D. student at Hacettepe University's Communication Sciences Program, she graduated from Bilkent University’s Media and Design MFA Program. She has directed and produced several short films, took part in national and international film festivals in addition to photography and new media exhibitions. Her current research areas are focused on Alternative Photographic Processes, Family Photography, Media Archeology, Found Footage and Essay Film.

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The essay film is one emerging genre in which the sonic elements and the editing characteristics are constructing the basis of its communication structure within and beyond the audiovisual material. This paper will enlighten the unique language and the means of communication of the essay form. In the essay film, the voice functions as a means of expression as opposed to a stack of sounds. With the support of the editing elements, the voice becomes a stylistic reflection towards the world, where the audience perceives the tone of the filmmaker. The voice is also not a rhetoric that oppresses the viewer but functions as a bridge to communicate with, and throughout, the audiovisual material as an artistic act that demands an intellectual response, like an open letter to be finalized in the viewers’ mind. The essay film does not seek to provide answers. Rather, it asks questions to the viewer, directly or indirectly, throughout the dialogue as the core of this filmmaking style. For the filmmaker to communicate with their viewer effectively, they position themselves as part of the audience. The essay film strives to go beyond formal, conceptual, and social constraint. Its structure undermines traditional boundaries, and is both structurally and conceptually transgressive, as well as self-reflective. It also questions the subject positions of the filmmaker and audience as well as the audiovisual medium itself – whether film, video, or digital electronic. This work highlights the dialogical characteristics of the essay film through a selection of essay film works with a focus on the voiceover usage and editing characteristics, to understand how a body of essayistic work addresses the viewer for a dialogical relationship.

How to Cite: Önen, N., 2019. Essay Film as a Dialogical Form. JOMEC Journal, (13), pp.93–103. DOI:
Published on 04 Feb 2019.
Peer Reviewed


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