Eric Coombs Esmail

Following the documentary impulse to the limits of observation.
2023 / 1987 

Critical   Media

Documentary & Pedagogy


Critical   Media

Documentary & Pedagogy


American Refuge (feature documentary)
For more information, find mimesis outside the academy.
Contact for all inquiries.

American Refuge

        People flee to the upland forests to reinvent themselves after personal and social trauma, but they soon learn that the the American West is a site of eternal return, and the past is always present.

Feature documentary     forthcoming (co-directed with Christian Hammons)

Documentary Media Poetics: a handbook for theory and practice

       Documentary Poetics are the study and practice of documentary arts as a method for building and transforming our world. They allow us to recognize the documentary impulse inherent in all art, an impulse that is driven by experience.

Open Education Resource and Course Handbook
(co-authored with Laurids Sonne)


              In a small town, a girl learns that her brothers have kidnapped the bully who drove her fraternal twin to suicide. A story about poverty, race, sexuality, and violence on the high plains.

Short fiction     2019
(co-directed with Christian Hammons)


              In 1979, Prof. Dennis Van Gerven exhumed the bodies of 400 Nubian mummies from the desert in Sudan.  They were itinerant farmers in the 6th and 7th centuries BC, but in the three decades after they were excavated, they would go to work again as "messengers from the poor."  At the end of his career, Van Gerven reflects on his life with the mummies and their afterlife in the United States speaking to the problems of poverty and discrimination.

Short documentary     2019
(co-directed with Christian Hammons)