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Columbus - IFFR 2017-1.jpg
Kogonada (center) in 2017
Seoul, South Korea[1]
OccupationVideo essayist, filmmaker
Years active2012-present
Notable work

Kogonada, sometimes styled :: kogonada,[1] is a South Korean-born American[2] filmmaker known for his debut film Columbus as well as his video essays: short videos which analyze the content, form, and structure of films and television series generally through narration and editing. His video essays often highlight a particular aesthetic used by film directors. He is a regular contributor for Sight & Sound magazine and is frequently commissioned by North American home video distributor The Criterion Collection to create supplemental videos for its releases.

Video essays[edit]

Kogonada made his first video essay "Breaking Bad // POV" in January 2012. Using clips from the American television series Breaking Bad, the video displays the series' use of numerous point of view shots from unusual angles and objects. Kogonada was inspired to create the video essay while he watched the series, noticing a recurring visual aesthetic used throughout the series.[3][4]

Kogonada's first commissioned work was for Sight & Sound magazine in February 2013, titled "The World According to Koreeda Hirokazu", which highlights director Hirokazu's regular focus on everyday life in his films.[4][5] Since then, most of his video essays are commissions for companies which include the British Film Institute (publisher of Sight & Sound),[6] The Criterion Collection,[7] Samsung,[8] and the Lincoln Motor Company.[9] Kogonada's works are part of a growing movement of creating video essays as a visual form of analysis, appreciation, and criticism on the internet,[10][11] with other known creators of video essays including Nelson Carvajal and Tony Zhou,[12][13] as well as film critics Kevin B. Lee, Matt Zoller Seitz and Scout Tafoya.[14][15][16] His video essay "Hands of Bresson" was chosen by filmmaker Robert Greene for Sight & Sound as one of the best documentaries of 2014, with Greene stating that works like his "make clear that the line between nonfiction film and video essay is at best blurry and the best work should simply be celebrated as cinema."[17] In March 2016, Kogonada was part of the official jury for the 16th LPA Film Festival at the Canary Islands, Spain, where he taught a master class and had screenings for 14 of his video essays at the "Bande à part" section.[2][18][19]

Kogonada's video essays about influential film directors include[20]


Kogonada's video essays typically showcase a particular theme or aesthetic regularly used by a filmmaker either throughout a filmography or within a single work.[4] Some examples are his three video essays on the aesthetics of American director Wes Anderson, who is known for using unusually symmetrical framing in his films.[24][25][26]

His video essays are formed through the juxtaposition of images, conveying thoughts through a particular arrangement of clips.[27] In an interview for Nashville Scene in March 2015, Kogonada likened creating video essays with preparing sushi: "With sushi, every cut matters. And so do the ingredients. Those two ongoing choices are the difference. What you select, and how you cut it." In comparing written essays with visual essays, Kogonada noted how words form precise observations of ideas, while visuals could convey a particular idea without providing a definite explanation. He explained that "[i]f you want to delve deep into theory, texts are the perfect medium .... However, when I'm making visual essays, I treat words as supplementary."[4]

Personal life[edit]

Kogonada's identity is nearly unknown, wishing to keep his identity anonymous, although conversely he attends the screenings of his works. He explained in an interview through e-mail for Filmmaker Magazine: "I like Chris Marker's idea about your work being your work. I’ve also never identified much with my American name, which always feels a little strange to see or hear .... And I'm quite fond of heteronyms."[27] The moniker is taken from Kogo Noda, frequent screenwriter for Yasujiro Ozu's films.[28]


  1. ^ a b c d e ":: kogonada". BFI. British Film Institute. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b Hidalgo, Mónica (9 March 2016). "Kogonada and Simone Grau, at the Festival's Workshops". LPA Film Festival. Promocion Ciudad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria SA. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  3. ^ :: kogonada (9 January 2012). "Breaking Bad // POV on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Ridley, Jim (19 March 2015). "kogonada: The Image Master". Nashville Scene. Southcomm Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  5. ^ :: kogonada (18 March 2013). "The World According to Koreeda Hirokazu on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  6. ^ :: kogonada (23 February 2015). "The long conversation: Richard Linklater on cinema and time". Sight & Sound | BFI. British Film Institute. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  7. ^ :: kogonada (5 December 2014). "Watch Criterion Designs". The Criterion Collection. The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  8. ^ :: kogonada (15 June 2015). "Elemental on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  9. ^ The Lincoln Motor Company (2 September 2015). "Expansion: The Feeling Stays With You on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  10. ^ Lee, Kevin B. (December 17, 2015). "Poll: The Best Video Essays of 2015". Keyframe. Our Film Festival, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016. ... there are more practicing video essayists and regularly producing sites than can fit into a cohesive network or community .... As with just about everything related to the Internet, too much is the new normal in the world of video essays.
  11. ^ "In Reference to: Visual Essays". Berlinale Talents. Berlinale Talents. 15 February 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2016. Recent years have seen the increased popularity of short online videos that explore films or the œuvre of a director by reworking and commenting on shots and scenes to reveal new insights.
  12. ^ Carvajal, Nelson. "Nelson Carvajal on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  13. ^ Zhou, Tony. "Tony Zhou on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  14. ^ Lee, Kevin B. (17 June 2014). "Filmmakers in Disguise". Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  15. ^ Marshall, Colin (19 February 2015). "What's the Big Deal About Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel? Matt Zoller Seitz's Video Essay Explains". Open Culture. Open Culture, LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  16. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller; Tafoya, Scout (2 March 2015). "The Unloved, Part Fifteen: "The Lone Ranger" & "Heaven's Gate"| MZS". RogerEbert.com. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  17. ^ Greene, Robert (4 August 2015). "The best documentaries of 2014". Sight & Sound| BFI. British Film Institute. Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  18. ^ "KOGONADA'S WORKS". :: Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival. Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Retrieved 25 July 2016.
  19. ^ Hidalgo, Mónica (11 March 2016). "Kogonada's film essay works, in Bande à part". LPA Film Festival. Promocion Ciudad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria SA. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p :: kogonada. ":: kogonada Home Page". kogonada. kogonada.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l kogonada. "kogonada Vimeo". vimeo. vimeo.com. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  22. ^ a b :: kogonada. ":: kogonada Criterion Collection Author Spotlight". The Criterion Collection. criterioncollection.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  23. ^ a b c d e Kogonada. "Kogonada Criterion Collection Author Spotlight". The Criterion Collection. criterioncollection.com. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  24. ^ :: kogonada (30 January 2012). "Wes Anderson // From Above on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  25. ^ The Fox & Mr. Anderson. YouTube. March 11, 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  26. ^ :: kogonada (17 March 2014). "Wes Anderson // Centered on Vimeo". Vimeo. Vimeo, Inc. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  27. ^ a b Macaulay, Scott (17 July 2014). ":: kogonada". Filmmaker Magazine. Filmmaker Magazine. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  28. ^ Buder, Emily (August 8, 2017). "'Columbus': Video Essayist Kogonada on His Stunning Feature Debut and Why Critics Should Make Movies". No Film School. Retrieved December 5, 2019.


  • Thomas Elsaesser, Malte Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses, 2nd, Routledge, 2015, 246 p; ISBN 1317581148, ISBN 9781317581147.
  • For the Love of Cinema: Teaching Our Passion In and Outside the Classroom / Rashna Wadia Richards, David T. Johnson, Indiana University Press, 2017, p. 185; ISBN 0253030129, ISBN 9780253030122.

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