Amie Siegel


One in a series “ciné-constellations,” feature-length associative visual essays. Dream-like and propositional, works in this series mirror shared concerns of voyeurism, psychoanalysis, memory, surveillance, and modernist architecture. These films engage in a self-reflexive inquiry into nonfiction film practices, including objectivity, authority, and performance.

Empathy reverses the psychoanalytic gaze back onto the psychoanalyst. Three genres—fiction, screen test, and documentary interview—provoke questions about power, manipulation, and understanding. A fictional narrative about a voice-over actress in psychoanalysis interweaves with “screen tests” of actresses auditioning for her role in Empathy, as well as interviews with actual psychoanalysts.

As the film unfolds, the genres collide and break apart. Individuals from interviews begin to appear in the fictional space of the narrative, television documentary is parodied in a film-within-a-film essay on modernism and psychoanalysis, the actor playing the fictional analyst reveals himself to be one in real life. Empathy enacts issues of disclosure, identity, sexual exploitation, and voyeuristic transgression of private space turned public.

Empathy, 2003

35 mm film, 92 min., color, sound

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