This issue of The Cine-Files is dedicated to the memory of Lesley Stern, a writer whose work in many ways exemplifies a key aim of the audiovisual essay—to write about the cinema cinematically. With words alone, Lesley could conjure an image and set its signification in motion in a manner more akin to an essay film than a scholarly essay. Weaving together first-person remembrance, film theory, and history, while vividly drawing out the sensory details of cinematic mise en scène, her writing defies easy categorization and reminds us that the cinema’s significance is at once socio-historic and intensely personal. Filtered through her unique sensibility, works of criticism became works of art.
I feel fortunate not only to have had Lesley as an inspiration, but also as a dear friend. It was a great joy to work with her on the essay she wrote for The Cine-Files in 2016, “‘Once I’ve Devoured Your Soul, We Are Neither Animal Nor Human’: The Cinema as Animist Universe.” The title alone still fills me with delight. To me, that essay perfectly exemplifies not only Lesley’s rich, associative method, but also her persistent questioning of familiar and comfortable boundaries and her bold flights of speculative imagining. Her unending curiosity, kindness, energy and honesty made her a joy to be near. I will miss her greatly.
The Spring 2016 issue of The Cine-Files also features this interview in which Lesley reflects on her writing about the cinema.
published on January 31, 2021