Alternative Cinema: Films by Chloé Galibert-Laîné

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Little Hall’s Golden Auditorium screened four Chloé Galibert-Laîné films as a part of the Alternative Cinema series and in anticipation of her planned arrival on the week of Sept. 26. Assistant Professor of Art & Art History Yi Cui hosted the event, and opened it by explaining that the films fall into the essay films category: a format that “transcends boundaries.” She articulated that essay film does not have set conditions like other traditional film styles, and that it is challenging to describe because its impetus is to be interpreted differently on an individual, subjective level. Cui detailed that Galibert-Laîné’s essay film expanded her perspective on cinematography. 

The four films shown were “Once Upon a Screen: True Enough” (2022), “A Very Long Exposure” (2020), “Reading // Binging // Benning” (2018), and “Forensickness” (2020). The 2018 film, “Reading // Binging // Benning,” was co-authored by Chloé Galibert-Laîné and Kevin B. Lee. Uniquely, none of these films besides the 2018 piece  had a defined structure or purpose. Unlike the other films screened, this one clearly said, “Maybe when you’re watching the film, you’re already making it.” 

The last film, “Forensickness,” was of the longest duration and featured a captivating subject matter.  Galibert-Laîné was inspired by Chris Kennedy’s “Watching the Detectives,” which, according to, was an observation of the reaction in online “chat rooms” to the Boston Marathon Bombing of April 2013. The group of users attempted to identify culprits, though much of the work was harmful speculation. “Forensickness” assembled images of “Watching the Detectives” with various other media about the search from news outlets and other films, appearing to describe Galibert-Laîné’s thought process about its production.

Sophomore Liz Armstrong praised the commentary made through “Forensickness.

“I thought it was really interesting how [Galibert-Laîné] decided to make a documentary exploring how through media the public reacts and can take hold of a devastating attack like what happened in Boston and apply their own ‘detective work,’ and how sometimes it can be helpful, while in other cases it spreads false information and assumptions,” Armstrong said.

Senior Patrick Taylor added his thoughts on “Forensickness.

“I enjoyed how the filmmaker delved into a very online subject but made it accessible for people who might not be totally in-the-know,” Taylor said. “The film focused on the bigger picture and significance of these interactions but also made sure the personality and minutiae of these threads [weren’t] lost.”

Sophomore Leila Bekaert compared Galibert-Laîné’s films to online video essays.

“I actually like watching video essays on my own time, typically through YouTube, so it was interesting to see an official screening be dedicated just to these essay film formats,” Bekaert said. “I love video essays in general, whether it be discussing an existing movie or just about a current topic because it presents a person’s interpretation and thoughts through an engaging format. I […] had to make a video essay last year for one of my film classes and enjoyed the experience of making a compelling argument through a video.”

When asked what they thought the primary aim of “Forensickness” was, Taylor and Armstrong gave differing answers.  This goes to show how open-ended interpretations of Galibert-Laîné’s essay films can be, and that they have no particularly defined agenda. Each viewer of Galibert-Laîné’s essay films will have a unique experience and interpretation.