Sofie Benoot, PhD in the Arts

Through Film History the essay film moves fluently across different genres. Throughout the history of the film essay genre we can find multiple interesting cross-pollinations between film noir, science fiction, western and documentary. In this doctoral research I will attempt to focus on the possible cohesion between the detective genre and the essay film.

This research follows from some pertinent ecological questions that are being addressed in the arts nowadays. Due to enormous contemporary ecological challenges and the recent annunciation of the Anthropocene as a new era, an increasing focus on the reshaping of the relation between human and world is noticeable in different disciplines of art.  The prevailing rigorous dichotomy between human and non-human, nature and culture is not longer valid from the perspective of the Anthropocene. The possible declaration of this new era asks for new ways of storytelling about how humans relate to the (outside) world. As a documentary essay filmmaker I share these concerns and I engage myself in this eminently transdisciplinary discussion. I want to conduct research to find new story perspectives and techniques that can be used by the essay filmmaker to portray the relation between human and non-human.

To find an answer to this question I will search for a new narrative position, a position that manifests itself in the film essay not only as a narrating voice but also shines through in other artistic formal choices ( cinematography, narrative structures, sound, plot… ). I will investigate if the genre of the metaphysical detective can serve for a suitable “antropocenic” narrative position for the essay film. The metaphysical detective is a genre that uses the conventions of the classical detective to question the epistemological relationship between human and world. This variation of the detective offers a promising perspective for the debates that the notion of the Antropocene has started.


  • Dr. Roel Vande Winkel (Supervisor, LUCA)
  • Dr. Pieter Vermeulen (Co-supervisor, KU Leuven)

Research Unit: Intermedia

Duration: 2018-2022

Contact: sofie.benoot@luca-arts.be