Emma is a leader and lecturer in ECA where she runs the Post Graduate department in Documentary Film.
Emma’s research focuses on documentary directing and especially looks at collaborative practice and how documentary form can evolve beyond traditional narrative structures. She recently co-directed a feature documentary called “Becoming Animal” (2018) with Swiss Canadian director and cinematographer Peter Mettler. A filmic journey with the cult philosopher and writer David Abram, it explores how our sensory relationship with the “more than human” world has evolved into its current state. It opened at CPH DOX and has been nominated for many international awards including Best Documentary at CPH DOX, Edinburgh Film Festival, Documenta Madrid, Docs Against Gravity and has played at many other international festivals including IDFA, Jihlava, RIDM, Montreal as well as obtaining cinema release in Switzerland, Canada, UK and Germany. See https://www.becominganimalfilm.com.
Her last film, “I Am Breathing” (2012) co- directed with Morag MacKinnon was about a man who, paralysed by Motor Neurone Disease, confronts questions of life and death as he prepares to leave a legacy to his son. The film explored how documentary could communicate the ineffable state of complete paralysis and aimed to find a language which empowered Neil by using his blog as a narrative device. It has played in over 50 countries winning awards and nominations (Winner of Best Director Scotland BAFTA; Audience Award, Document Festival; Shortlisted for Best Feature IDFA , Hot Docs, three Scottish BAFTA nominations; Winner Riverrun Best Documentary) and was broadcast on Film 4 and many other countries. https://www.iambreathing.com/tags/reviews
Emma frequently writes and gives lectures internationally about approaches to documentary narrative. She mentors many projects internationally as a story editor/ consultant including a new film by Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi, produced by Orwa Nyrabia. She has been a mentor or speaker with filmmakers or organisations in India, Ghana, South Korea, China, Qatar, Egypt, and all over Europe working with organisations such as IDFA, EDN, Doc Edge Kolkata, Doha Film Institute, Institute of Documentary Film, Storydoc, Norwegian Film School and many others. She is on the Board of Scottish Documentary Institute and on the Assembly of DoxBox.
She has been making documentaries for 15 years including “What Age Can You Start Being An Artist?” for Channel 4 (2004, nominated for Grierson Award); “Gigha: Buying Our Island (2002)”, a one-hour film for BBC/Scottish Screen; and “Flight”, a BBC/Canadian co-production (2000). She also directed many mainstream BBC documentaries and programmes including “The Culture Show” . Her short experimental work, “71˚N.” was nominated for Best short EIFF and was highly commended by the judges. Emma’s background in experimental theatre and performance gave her a background in questioning form and a deep belief in collaborative creative practice. She started and ran Clanjamfrie Theatre Company from 1990-2000 which did large-scale site-specific performances combining film and live performance. She worked with, amongst others, Robert LePage on Tectonic Plates which she acted in and co-created as part of Theatre Repere. Emma studied English at Oxford University and theatre in Paris with Phillipe Gaulier. In 2013 she was named as one of Canongate’s Future 40 “multi-disciplinary artists they’re banking on to define the next 4 decades.”
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