The New Man

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


Appignanesi is the co-director (with Devorah Baum), producer, cinematographer and editor of this 75-minute documentary feature about the process of becoming parents. The film combines filmmaking strategies from observational documentary, self-shooting, and re-enactment to create a reflexive “auto-ethnography”. It seeks to achieve a critical distance that does not sacrifice the emotional intensity of the author’s own experience of becoming a parent, including the trauma of losing a child, seen through the prism of masculinity today. Appignanesi self-shot scenes and constructed a narrative that particularly focuses on the male experience of fertility treatment, IVF, pregnancy, and the crisis around the death of one of their twin children. Using a largely fixed frame and long takes to encourage an ironised, reflexive identification with the characters and social milieu on screen, the project examines the troubling, self-defeating limits of supposedly ‘liberated’ masculinity, discovering affects of powerlessness, redundancy, and anxiety that resonate with the male experience at large, yet are rarely depicted on screen with such intimacy. Shot over a year and edited over two, the project was advised on by experts in fertility and parenting whose insights sit alongside those of luminaries such as Zadie Smith, John Berger, Slavoj Zizek, Hisham Matar, Prof Darian Leader, Prof Renata Salecl, David Schneider, and Antony Gormley. Funded by the Wellcome Trust and Exec Produced by Charlie Phillips (Head of Guardian Documentaries) and David Baddiel, the film was released theatrically in over 25 UK sites with special events at Southbank Centre, Guardian, the Tavistock Centre, and LSHTM. Charity partners included Best Beginnings, CALM, and Birds Eye View. It was widely discussed in the national and specialist press (see, with guest appearances on Newsnight, Radio4 and BBC Radio London. It was iTunes #2 Indie Documentary and reached 2.5 million Twitter impressions on the week of release.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputFilm
Size75 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2016

Cite this