“Film,” Phillip Lopate has griped, “is treated as the dumb blonde of media.” Rejecting the notion that words and images are antagonistic, the critic and essayist has long maintained that in cinema, voiceover narration should not be suspect and “literary” ought not to be an insult. In this lecture, Lopate goes “In Search of the Essay Film,” a genre that can take many forms. From the impersonal to the autobiographical, the cinematic essay breaks the bonds of the documentary (a term sometimes taken to mean “a non-fiction movie that doesn’t upset anyone”). His lecture will be followed by two examples: Alain Resnais’ massively influential Night and Fog is a detached treatment of a huge subject (the Holocaust and beyond), while Alan Berliner’s Nobody’s Business is an intensely subjective investigation into the filmmaker’s own father. These films show some of the smarter possibilities, but Lopate will undoubtedly detail others. Lopate speaks at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art’s East Building Auditorium, 4th St. & Constitution Ave. NW. Free. (202) 737-4215.

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