About Ella Raidel

About Ella Raidel

Ella Raidel, Ph.D., is a filmmaker, artist, and researcher. She is an Assistant Professor at NTU Singapore at ADM School of Art, Design, and Media and WKWSCI School of Communication and Information.

In her interdisciplinary work – films, videos, writings – she focuses on the socio-cultural impact of globalization with a focus on urbanization and Asian cinemas. She is interested in reflexive forms of narration in questioning the representation in documentary films. Her film-making corresponds with her writings on Sinophone cinema for researching the poetics in image-making. Her work has been presented and distinguished in numerous international film festivals, exhibitions, and biennials. She is the co-editor (with Peng Hsiao-yen) of Altering Archives, The Politics of Memory in Sinophone Cinemas and Image Culture (Routledge Contemporary China Series 2018) and has publicized on Tsai Ming-Liang’s work.

We Will Always Have Paris

We Will Always Have Paris

We’ll always have Paris (2020) contradicts the logic of representation; the film becomes a simulation of an architecture film, of a capitalism critique, of a ghost story: as they say in the film classic Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.” Sixpackfilm

Presented at

Antimatter – International Media Art & Experimental Cinema Festival [18 Oct]

Architecture Film festival Lund/Sweden [16 Oct]

A Pile Of Ghosts

A Pile Of Ghosts

World Premiere of A Pile of Ghosts, 70 Min., 2021 at the AFFR Architectural Filmfestival Rotterdam 2021

What is real and what isn’t in a replicated city? Ella Raidel made this penetrating ghost-town film in contemporary China, interweaving actors and ordinary people, sets, and footage of the city. Aren’t the real estate agents, construction workers, and investors simply playing a game? What remains of reality in a world dominated by the vagaries of capitalism? A Pile of Ghosts is a mysterious puzzle where the dividing line between fact and fiction becomes increasingly blurred. In this strange world, subjected to speculation, it actually doesn’t seem to matter anymore. AFFR 2021

Film – City – Architecture

AFFR explores the relationship between film, cities, and architecture by programming and screening architecture films and by organizing introductions and debates.

AFFR 2021 Theme: More than Houses

Ghost Hits Wall

Ghost Hits Wall

Ghost Hits Wall at Pavillion0. at Architecture Biennial Venice

Video Installation, 10’38’’, 2021

Image: Ella Raidel / Sound: Sander Saarmets

Ghost Hits Wall from Ella Raidel on Vimeo.

Ghost Hits Wall is part of an art-based research project on Chinese ghost cities under the title Of Haunted Spaces (2016-2019). The footage was shot in a combination of acting and documenting to indicate the phantasmatic aspect of global capitalism. In China, the need to maintain and boost economic growth in its surplus production results in cities being built more than needed. The subject investigated is how global capitalism is affecting and haunting the living conditions of our time. Urban spaces, which were once a grandiose vision for boosting prosperity in the collective fantasy, have now become exhausted and empty sites.


We Will Always Have Paris

We Will Always Have Paris

Ein verdichtetes Bild des Unheimlichen: Wo sind wir, wann sind wir, entsteht hier etwas oder verfällt es bereits? Ella Raidels We’ll Always Have Paris spielt mit der Orientierung, die Architektur bieten kann, und ihrem Gegenteil: ein Eiffelturm im Nirgendwo, aus der Zeit gefallen, im Raum versetzt – ein Zeichen für eine Gegenwart, in der immer alles da und zugleich abwesend ist.

We will always have Paris, 4 Min., 2020 (Image: Ella Raidel; Sound: Sander Saarmets)

Crossing Europe Fimfestival Linz, Experimental Shorts, 04.06. –11:45

Diagonale Graz, Innovatives Kino, Schubertkino 1: 10.06.– 10:30; 12.06.– 19:30

Höhenrausch Linz, 06.05.- 17.10.2021

Paris is not necessarily the first choice as the setting for a ghost story. The excessive romance of the French metropolis’ cultural symbols renders them simply unsuitable as backdrop for horror stories. But that’s not the case in Ella Raidel’s four-minute short film, which arose in the course of her extensive research project Of Haunted Spaces and refers to an upcoming feature film project. In We’ll always have Paris, the Eifel Tower, Champs-Élysées, magnificent fountains, and trimmed hedges stand as faux French in the hazy rain of Tianducheng. The residential complex located in the suburbs of the Chinese megapolis Hangzhou is one of the countless, largely unpopulated pop-up sites that sprung up overnight through high-speed real-estate speculation. In Raidel’s film, the Eifel Tower is the anti-gravity center of a phantom zone furnished with stark high-rises, parking areas, and gardens—an urban proposition that amounts to nothing. As the camera focuses on the building clone and its surroundings from various perspectives, the film suddenly changes tone. A woman who at first is visible only from behind enters the urban planning remake. Through a construction site corridor, she enters a conference space, improvised by partition walls, from which the view of the tower’s base condenses to an image of the uncanny. Like the pastiche in Tianducheng, We’ll always have Paris also contradicts the logics of representation; the film itself becomes a simulation of an architecture film, of a capitalism critique, of a ghost story: as they say in the film classic Casablanca, “We’ll always have Paris.” But what do we have here? (Esther Buss)

Distributed by Sixpackfilm Vienna

Artistic Research in Film Conference 2021

Artistic Research in Film Conference 2021

International GEECT Conference// Transversal Entanglement // Artistic Research in Film

3-5 June 2021

The freedom of searching the unsearchable in the process of filmmaking as artistic research allows combining different disciplines, such as philosophy, cultural studies, urban studies and film studies to enhance each other’s range of knowledge production. In her ongoing art-based research project, Ella Raidel investigates China’s urban spaces in and through cinema.

The subject investigated is how global capitalism is affecting and haunting the living conditions of our time. In exploring the line between documentary and fiction, Ella Raidel develops a method of performative documentary to create a discursive space in which facts, analyses, commentaries, and references can be woven into one narrative. This research is not only to scrutinize the social reality and to render the social discourse but also to reflect on the convention of filmmaking and its representations. Her new film A PILE OF GHOSTS on Chinese Ghost cities will be released in 2021 and will be the subject of this talk.


Conference Schedule

Altering Archives

Altering Archives

The Politics of Memory in Sinophone Cinemas and Image Culture-Altering Archives
Edited by Peng Hsiao-yen and Ella Raidel

Routledge Contemporary China Series

The Politics of Memory in Sinophone Cinemas and Image Culture investigates Sinophone films and art projects that express this desire for archiving and reconfiguring the past. Comprising ten chapters, this book brings together contributors from an array of disciplines – artists, filmmakers, curators, film critics, and literary scholars – to grapple with the creative ambiguities of Sinophone cinemas and image culture. Blending eclectic methods of scholarly research, knowledge-making, and art-making into a new discursive space, the chapters address the diverse complexities of the cinematic culture and image production in Sinitic language regions.

With contributions by: Yu-lin Lee, Chen Chieh-jen, Hongjohn Lin, Peng Hsiao-yen, Ella Raidel, Sandy Hsiu-chih Lo, Chris Berry, Lu Xinyu, Agnes S. Schick-Chen, Isabel Wolte

Ruinscapes – Special Issue

Ruinscapes – Special Issue


Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, Volume 11, Issue 2
Edited by Tse-Lan Deborah Sang and Chun Zhang

Ella Raidel, “The Exhausted Narrative in Tsai Ming-Liang’s Films”, pages 329-351

This articel sets out to examine the “exhausted narrative” in aesthetic and poetic experience, revealing the affect and effect of Tsai Ming-Liang’s film-making. He is notable for his obsession with ruins, defunct construction sites, abandoned buildings, and film itself as a modern ruin. These sites are a reminder of the alienated subjects within its historical context, a fragmented narrative, and an uncertain or failed future to come, just like the ruin-a chapter of a halted story. Tsai’s films are not only full of ruinous images and bodies, but even the fragmented narratives are ruinous, turning in elliptical circles, aiming toward their morbid ending until their total exhaustion. This cinematic ouroboros ophis will be discussed in two aspects: first, as an aesthetic practice, and second, as the parallelism between the onand off-screen reality of the mode of production and reception in the cinematic experience. The term “exhausted narratives” refers to the processes of writing meta-fiction, as that of “re-orchestrating” and “re-editing” the past with respect to the present, and to inscribing Tsai’s own narrative universe.