Ethnographic Cinema

  • Trinh T. Minh-ha – Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989)

    Trinh T. Minh-ha1981-1990DocumentaryEthnographic CinemaExperimentalUSA
    Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989)
    Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989)

    Vietnamese-born Trinh T. Minh-ha’s profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry and the words and experiences of Vietnamese women in Vietnam—from both North and South—and the United States, Trinh’s film challenges official culture with the voices of women. A theoretically and formally complex work, Surname Viet Given Name Nam explores the difficulty of translation, and themes of dislocation and exile, critiquing both traditional society and life since the war.Read More »

  • T. Minh-ha Trinh – Shoot for the Contents (1991)

    1991-2000DocumentaryEthnographic CinemaExperimentalT. Minh-ha TrinhUSA

    Reflecting on Mao’s famous saying “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend,” Trinh T. Minh-ha’s SHOOT FOR THE CONTENTS—a title that alludes to a Chinese guessing game—is a unique excursion into the maze of allegorical naming and storytelling in China. The film ponders questions of power and change, politics and culture, as refracted by the Tiananmen Square massacre. It offers at the same time an inquiry into the creative process of filmmaking, intricately layering Chinese popular songs and classical music, the sayings of Mao and Confucius, women’s voices, and the words of artists, philosophers, and other cultural workers. The result is a meditative documentary that captures major shifts of interpretation in modern Chinese culture and politics.Read More »

  • Gary Kildea – Celso and Cora (1983)

    1981-1990AustraliaDocumentaryEthnographic CinemaGary Kildea

    A masterpiece of observational ethnographic cinema style.
    An Australian feature length documentary about a poverty stricken family living in a squatter’s dwelling in Manila, Phillipines. Doc is set during a three month period and tells the story of two parents with two little children who must sell cigarettes to survive. Ethnographic and anthropological film shows the crises the impoverished family must face and is the winner of a number of awards.Read More »

  • Paz Encina – EAMI (2022)

    2021-2030Ethnographic CinemaExperimentalFantasyParaguayPaz Encina

    Eami’s homeland is invaded by settlers. Embodying Asojá, the bird-god-woman, she falls into trance in which she walks slowly and stunned through her beloved forest as she prepares to leave it forever.Read More »

  • Ivan Golovnev – Malenkaya Katerina AKA Tiny Katerina (2004)

    2001-2010DocumentaryEthnographic CinemaIvan GolovnevRussiaShort Film

    Ivan Golovnev (filmmaker) was born in 1978 in Omsk, a city in Siberia. His father is a scholar of history, ethnography, and anthropology who teaches at universities around the world, including the United States. His mother is a history teacher. As a child, he took part in ethnographic and anthropological expeditions in North-Western Siberia. He graduated from music school with a degree in piano performance. In 2000, Golovnev graduated from the History Department of the Omsk State University, where he majored in Ethnography. In 2002, Golovnev entered a Graduate Program for Screenwriters and Directors in Moscow. He directed a documentary television series “The Time of Myths” about the traditional culture of two indigenous peoples of Russia’s North-West Siberia– the Khanty and Mansi. Ivan is currently working on a documentary on the lives of representatives of different denominations in Siberia.Read More »

  • Raymundo Gleyzer & Jorge Preloran – Ocurrido en Hualfín AKA It Happened in Hualfin (1965)

    1961-1970ArgentinaDocumentaryEthnographic CinemaJorge PreloranRaymundo Gleyzer

    This three-part documentary on Indian peasant life in the Catamarca region of Argentina is an emotionally moving examination of the generational cycle of poverty in underdeveloped countries. Beautifully told through the eyes and voices of the people, this story of one family becomes the story of all the inhabitants of the valley of Hualfin. In Part I, Temistocles Figueroa, an 84-year-old former cane-cutter, recounts his life in the cane fields through words and song. Part 2 focuses on Justina, his sister-in-law, who is a potter. Her narrative on poverty and pottery mingles with questions, such as, “I’ve heard that in other places women don’t work. How can that be,” she says, “I don’t believe it.” Part 3 profiles Antonia, Justina’s daughter, and her own daughter, Elinda. Antonia toils day and night weaving blankets for sale or barter at the general store. Elinda is her mother’s hope because perhaps her daughter can become a school teacher and break out of the cycle of poverty, but it soon becomes clear that the little girl, too, is trapped, and the cycle will go on.Read More »

  • Deborah Stratman – Kings of the Sky (2004)

    Deborah Stratman2001-2010DocumentaryEthnographic CinemaExperimentalUSA

    An experimental documentary about resistance, balance and fame, Kings of the Sky follows tightrope artist Adil Hoxur as he and his troupe tour China’s Taklamakan desert amongst the Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim people seeking religious and political autonomy. The film gracefully hovers between travelogue, ethnographic visual poetry, and an advocacy video for preserving a traditional art form.Read More »

  • Luiz Bolognesi – A Última Floresta AKA The Last Forest (2021)

    2021-2030BrazilDocumentaryEthnographic CinemaLuiz Bolognesi

    In powerful images, alternating between documentary observation and staged sequences, and dense soundscapes, Luiz Bolognesi documents the Indigenous community of the Yanomami and depicts their threatened natural environment in the Amazon rainforest.Read More »

  • Stefan Jarl – Samernas land AKA Land Of The Lapps (1994)

    1991-2000DocumentaryEthnographic CinemaStefan JarlSweden

    This short film is only thirteen minutes long, but it is a razor-sharp depiction of civilization pushing out Europe’s last wilderness in Northern Sweden. The white man is hunting ptarmigan, enormous exer-tions are being expended, watercourses are running dry and forests are being devastated. Thirteen minutes about a world in change. But un-fortunately not for the better.
    stefanjarl.comRead More »

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