Alain Esmery studied history and ethnology before starting work as a documentary film editor and then director. His career has included periods teaching at the University of Paris 1 Sorbonne (1992-1996) and presenting the Rencontres de Saint-Laurent event as part of the Etats Généraux du documentaire de Lussas documentary festival (2002-2007).
In 1990 he was appointed production director at the Forum des Images in Paris, a role he retained until 2012. The films he produced during this time have been selected by many festivals, including Vue sur les Docs (Marseille), Vision du Réel (Nyon), Festival dei Popoli (Florence) and Cinéma du Réel (Paris).
He was the president of the European INEDITS association from 2000 to 2009. This organisation, which brings together film libraries, researchers, academics, historians, directors and other film and television professionals, promotes the study, safeguarding, conservation and promotion of amateur films.
Returning to the presidency of the INEDITS association in 2013, Alain Esmery was also appointed in the same year to select documentaries and in-depth reports for FIPA, the Festival International des Programmes Audiovisuels in Biarritz.