Andrew Key

I’m a writer. Recently I’ve mostly been writing about films and the experience of watching films, but sometimes I also write about literature, psychoanalysis, critical theory, visual art and other similar things. My first novel was released in March 2022. I’m working on my second at the moment.

* My novel, Ross Hall, was published in March 2022 by Grand Iota. It’s about Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s exile to England in 1766–67, a period which he spent writing The Confessions, botanising, and sinking into a major paranoid episode for which he blamed David Hume. You can order it directly from the publisher, or from all the usual book retailers. I wrote a short essay about my research for the book for Necessary Fiction

* Every week I write a Substack, the Roland Barfs Film Diary, which discusses every single film I watch and what else I do on the day that I watch it. Elephant Magazine called it one of the 20 best culture newsletters. In May 2022 I discussed the film diary, my thinking behind it and my frequent ambivalence about the project, on a podcast for PRISMS in Oslo.
* My recent essays and criticism have appeared in various publications, including but not limited to:

  • Vittles Magazine: on the spaghetti breakfast scene in A Woman Under the Influence: here.
  • Parapraxis Magazine: on The Beatles, The Beatles: Get Back, and group analysis: here.
  • Verso Books Blog: on Jean-Marie Straub: here. And on Jean-Luc Godard: here (also translated into Italian for MicroMega here). And on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Christ films: here.
  • Los Angeles Review of Books: on Tom Cruise: here.
  • The New York Times Magazine: on Gena Rowlands: here.
  • The Quietus: on Jane Arden, anti-psychiatry, and changes in mental health provision over the last 50 years: here.
  • Syllabus Project: an annotated list of films about psychotherapy: here.
  • Position(s) / Juxta Press: on Bruce Baillie’s 1966 film, All My Life, California, disillusionment, blue skies, dreams, grief, botanical excess, and trying to figure out how to live: here.
  • It’s Freezing in LA!: in issue #8, an essay on Pedro Costa, Cape Verde, and displacement, available to buy here. Also available online, an essay on cinematic eco-terrorism: here.
  • Lugubriations: on being a social care worker in mental health, exhaustion, love as an unhelpful side effect of care work: here. And an essay on cinephilia and Elliott Gould’s early career: here. Both of these essays were also published in the Lugubriations book, released by Broken Sleep Books.
  • New Socialist: on writing, aesthetics, climate breakdown, the everyday, the avant garde, eco-socialism, and so on: here. Some earlier pieces for New Socialist are here and here.
  • The Point: on being a participant in group psychotherapy over Zoom during the pandemic: here
  • Open City Documentary Festival: on non-fiction filmmaking, the everyday, habit: here.
  • Goodnight, Sweet Prince: on Paul Schrader’s First Reformed and climate anxiety: here.
  • MAP Magazine: on Frederick Wiseman: here.

* Other literary or cinematic reviews have appeared in Review 31 (1, 2), The Manchester Review (1), Splice (1), and 3:AM Magazine (1). I’ve also written essays about Courbet and bereavement (here), about being unable to write about John Cassavetes (here), about oil films (here), and about the provincial everyday uncanny of the English West Midlands in the work of M. John Harrison (here). In 2020 I won the inaugural Graham Greene Film Review Prize. Some short fiction has appeared in Quick Fictions and Pequin.

* Occasionally I also make various appearances to talk about films. In June 2022 I discussed Vigo’s L’Atalante for TANK Magazine. In July 2022 I introduced a screening of Altman’s 3 Women at Broadway Cinema in Nottingham; I also wrote some programme notes for a film series there. I’m open to all offers to introduce or discuss films in public forums.

* My short landscape film, I Have Rousseau (2017), also about Rousseau’s time in England, was highly commended by the Los Angeles Underground Film Forum and has since been screened in Oakland and London. You can watch it here.

* I was born in Shrewsbury in 1989. I lived for some years in Brighton, then in the San Francisco Bay Area, and now I’m based in Sheffield. I completed my BA and MA at the University of Sussex, and then I undertook some further graduate study in the Department of English and the Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley, until I dropped out.

* If you’ve enjoyed anything I’ve written and would like to tell me that, or if you’ve hated anything I’ve written and would like to tell me that, or—especially—if you’re an editor and you’d like to commission me to write something, please get in touch by email. You can also find me on Twitter, for my sins.


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︎: @rolandbarfs