Bottom 40% of all time (see others with this rank)

Festival Year

2002 (click here to see all competition films from this year)


Documentary Competition

Non-Cast Credits

Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering Kofman, Kirsten Johnson, Matt Clarke, Ryuichi Sakamoto


There is a persistent American fascination with French philosopher Jacques Derrida and his theory of deconstruction that this work by Kirby Dick (Sick, Chain Camera) and Derrida's former student, Amy Ziering Kofman, questions and exemplifies. The founder of a school of critical thinking that radically questions the nature of texts, the reader, and the multiple layers of meaning at work in language, Derrida's work has been a profound influence on analysis of literature, linguistics, philosophy, law and architecture. And although best known for his early work, this last decade has witnessed an outpouring of Derridean though on a broad range of subjects from justice to national identify. But this filmic portrait is neither an explanation nor a biography in any traditional form.

A complex and reflexive work that attempts both to capture its protagonists and be a cooperative venture with him, the film juxtaposes moments from Derrida's personal life with excerpts from his writing, carries on an ongoing interview, and explores questions and issues generated by his work. The often-renowned impenetrability of modern intellectual thought for the layman, while being a key aspect of the filmmakers' process, is surprisingly a nonissue in the understanding and experience of its subject.

Certainly as ambitious and innovative as any film of recent memory in its attempt to address the nuances and sometimes opaqueness of philosophical thought, Derrida is an exceptionally well conceived and produced inquiry that brings the personal and the theoretical, the public and the private to bear in a meditation on a great thinker's spirit and themes.


Geoffrey Gilmore (see other films reviewed by the same reviewer)

Film Takes Pace.