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Ethnographic Cinema

Timothy Asch – The Ax Fight (1975)

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A fight broke out in Mishimishimabowei-teri on the second day of Chagnon and Asch’s stay in this village in 1971. The conflict developed between the villagers of Mishimishimabowei-teri and their visitors from another village. The visitors had formerly been part of Mishimishimabowei-teri, and many still had ties with members of that village. Their friends in Mishimishimabowei-teri had invited them to return, but other factions were not pleased with this, reflecting a persistent tension in this large village of over 250 people. The visitors refused to work in their hosts’ gardens, yet they demanded to be fed. One visiting man beat a woman who refused to give him plantains from her garden. She ran screaming and crying back to the village, where her sister comforted her while her brother, her husband, and his relatives attempted to settle the dispute, first with clubs and then with axes and machetes. Read More »

T. Minh-ha Trinh – Reassemblage (1983)

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From Allmovie:

Director Trinh T. Minh-ha’s first film is an ethnographic portrait of rural Senegalese women, but its provocative editing and self-conscious narration question the very activities of ethnography and documentary filmmaking; Minh-ha inverts and critiques authoritative Western representations of the “other.'” ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie Guide

INTERVIEW WITH TRINH MINH-HA

Interviewer Interviewed: A Discussion with Trinh T. Mihn-ha

by Tina Spangler
Emerson College

BORN IN VIETNAM, Trinh T. Minh-ha is a writer, composer and filmmaker She has been making films for better than ten years and may be best known for her first film Reassemblage, made in 1982. However her most recent film Surname Viet, Given Name Nam (1989), which examines “identity and culture through the struggle of Vietnamese women” has received much attention, including winning the Blue Ribbon Award at the American Film and Video festival Trinh T. Minh-ha is a professor of Woman Studies and Film at the University of California, Berkely and was recently a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. Read More »

Ben Russell – Let Each One Go Where He May (2009)

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Let Each One Go Where He May
Ben Russell
2009
2hr. 13min.

Chicago-based filmmaker Ben Russell has gone international with Trypps – a series of short, mesmerizing films loosely interpreting the notion of “trip,” from literal, geographic journeys to ecstatic music-induced highs, variations of trance and spasmodic filmic episodes. Along with Tjüba Tën/The Wet Season (co-directed by Brigid McCaffrey), his medium-length experimental documentary shot in Suriname, and his live projector performances, Russell’s body of work displays an ever-increasing interest in cinematic anthropologies.

Let Each One Go Where He May is Russell’s stunning feature debut, a film that both partakes in and dismantles traditional ethnography, opts for mystery and natural beauty over annotation and artifice, and employs unconventional storytelling as a means toward historical remembrance. A rigorous, exquisite work with a structure at once defined and winding, the film traces the extensive journey of two unidentified brothers who venture from the outskirts of Paramaribo, Suriname, on land and through rapids, past a Maroon village on the Upper Suriname River, in a rehearsal of the voyage undertaken by their ancestors, who escaped from slavery at the hands of the Dutch 300 years earlier. The path is still travelled to this day and its changing topography bespeaks a diverse history of forced migration. Read More »