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(Credit: Far Out / Press)


Short of the Week: Kogonada's beautiful video essay on Robert Bresson

'Hands of Bresson' - Kogonada

Video essays on cinema are an art form in their own right, often revealing grand truths about the films we love the most. Before he became one of the most exciting filmmakers in the landscape of contemporary cinema, Kogonada was a prominent practitioner of this art, and he made essays on various filmmakers – from Ingmar Bergman to Robert Bresson.

Kogonada had been cited as one of the most important figures of the growing online film criticism movement, alongside others such as Tony Zhou. However, he eventually graduated to bigger projects and made his debut feature Columbus in 2017, which explored the relationship between cinema and architecture.

Recently, he released a high-concept sci-fi feature called After Yang, which dealt with the mythology of artificial intelligence. In an interview, the director explained: “I think when we think about A.I. it’s already implicitly fascinating to us – we think that we’re going to find something that contains some hidden truth, or something really complicated.”

For this edition of Short of the Week, we have chosen Kogonada’s video essay on the pioneering French filmmaker Robert Bresson. Titled Hands of Bresson, Kogonada uses footage from the majestic filmography of the French auteur to comment on his unique perception of the human condition and the external world.

To those familiar with Bresson’s works, it is no secret that the characters who haunt the frames are often as inexpressive as automatons. In Bresson’s world, superficial facial emotions are not the basis of inter-personal connections, so Kogonada rightly focuses on the all-connecting, simple action of touch.

Kogonada is a master essayist who shows us how Bresson looked at the world through the infinite manoeuvres of hands. These hands participate in the endless, soulless exchange of capital, but they are also capable of feeling and are often more expressive than the most elaborately written speeches.

Watch the short below.