Emma Davie runs the postgraduate department in Film which specialises in documentary making. Her research area is documentary filmmaking. Her work explores approaches to narrative structure and form and uses collaboration as a tool for experimentation. Her most recent film is the feature documentary “Becoming Animal” (2018). Co-directed with Swiss-Canadian director and cinematographer Peter Mettler, it proposes a different kind of nature film: one which traces the act of seeing. Travelling to the Gran Teton Park with philosopher David Abram, it examines our shifting relationship to what we call “nature”. 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 Agains 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.
Her previous feature documentary "I am Breathing" (2012) was co-directed with fiction film maker Morag Mckinnon. It continues her interest in how collaboration informs the process including a central collaboration with Neil Platt, the subject of the film. It has won or been nominated for many awards including three Scotland BAFTAs in 2013. Emma also collaborates as a story editor/ consultant on various films including the new film by Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi.
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 has also directed short experimental work including "71˚N." ( nominated for Best short EIFF). Emma's background in experimental theatre and performance gave her a background in questioning form and a deep understanding and belief in collaborative creative practice. She started and ran Clanjamfrie 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. 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.”
Emma works with filmmakers internationally to develop their work at different stages of film development and editing, as a workshop leader tutor and story consultant. She has taught or given lectures or workshops with DocEdge in India, European Documentary Network at various international events including Thessaloniki Doc Festival, Below Zero, Norway, IDA in Prague, Ex Oriente Film Festival, IDFA in Amsterdam, Storydoc in Greece, National Film School in Norway, Discovery Campus, Crossing Borders in Shanghai, DocMontevideo in Uruguay, Qumra Film Event in Doha, Ramallah and many other places. She taught at the European Film College in Denmark and was on the board for EDN for 4 years.
Emma’s research focuses on documentary filmmaking 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” with 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 Agains 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
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 to avoid victimising Neil or making him an " object" of the camera by using his blog as a narrative device. It has played in over 45 countries, winning awards and nominations (Audience award, Document; Shortlisted for Best Feature IDFA, Hot Docs, three Scottish BAFTA nominations; Winner of Best Director Scotland BAFTA; Winner Riverrun Best Documentary) and was broadcast on Film 4 and in many other countries. see iambreathing.com
Emma frequently writes and gives lectures internationally about documentary structures and is currently a story editor/consultant on various films including a new film by Syrian filmmaker Diana El Jeroudhi, produced by Orwa Nyrabia. Previous work includes "Artist as Leader" (2009) Film to support and further the questions of how an artist's practice can be used as a model for other leadership. The project was part of the AHRC funded On the Edge led by Anne Douglas and Chris Fremantle. "Research into the role of the artist working in public indicates that artists are uniquely placed to inform and creatively develop public life. In seeking to understand the Nature of Creativity in public contexts, this research focuses on the concept of ‘leading through practice’."