Watching and Making: A specific question of cinema which allows the discovery of the different parameters of cinema on every encounter: mise en scène, sound, light, acting, editing… Featuring resources to explore the topic in an educational setting. An exploration of what is hidden and what is shown in film: Enigmas, withheld information, secrets, mysteries and revelations – why and how are things hidden or shown in cinema? This question intersects with every stage in the creation of a film.

Presentation of challenges

Alain Bergala is a critic, film maker, teacher at La Femis - the French state film school, and artistic advisor with Cinema, Cent ans de Jeunesse. Using film clips he illustrates the different domains of hidden / shown, a key issue from the beginning of cinema – to tell, to hide, to suggest.

A question / a sequence

Alain Bergala analyses the first scene of the film, in which the director gradually reveals to us the elements in play: a male prisoner waits for the right moment to escape from the car in which he is transported. With the absence of dialogue, using masking, playing with soft and sharp focus and highlighting sound from outside of the frame Robert Bresson patiently pieces together the fragments of tension, suspense and violence that bring the characters to life.

Film Extracts


Before the advent of cinema ‘to tell’ was to say certain things and hide others. Without the listener there is no storytelling, one depends on the other. In cinema, throughout the duration of a film, or even a scene, filmmakers use a multitude of ways to play with and engage the spectator: the signalling of an ending that is then delayed; showing things to the audience that the principal character can not see; reveal at the last possible moment something we should see and then replace it with something else

Suggesting Rather than Showing

Without showing everything, nor hiding altogether, the use of sound from out of shot, masking and revealing, allows filmmakers to play with our expectations, and, sometimes, our fears.