ASA09: Anthropological and archaeological imaginations: past, present and future
Bristol, UK

Film programme
Location Wills Old Council Chamber
Date and Time 7th April, 2009 at 09:15


David Shankland (Royal Anthropological Institute)
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Short Abstract

There will be a parallel film programme throughout the conference, with many of the film-makers attending to discuss their work.

Long Abstract

The films listed here will be screened in parallel with the main panel programme. Several film makers are able to attend the conference and give a short talk at their film showing.

The programme will start with a paper by Paul Henley, and a discussion of the ideas he presents.

The films are listed below in the order of showing, however the timings of this programme are listed separately on the site at:

Films should be mailed in DVD format, to David Shankland, Dept. of Archaeology and Anthropology, 43, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UU, UK. Pls give return address if you want the copy back.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


In denial – authorship and ethnographic documentary

Author: Paul Henley (University of Manchester)


Throughout the history of ethnographic film-making, authorship has been regarded with suspicion. Until the 1970s, the positivist paradigm was dominant: the camera was considered analogous to a scientific instrument, with any evidence of authorial intervention being regarded as a corruption of the objective ‘data’ that the camera could deliver. As this paradigm was displaced by ‘dialogical’ anthropology in the 1980s, authorship became suspect for a different reason: now it was the voice of the subject that should predominate. More recently still, with the arrival of new technologies, authorship has been displaced once again, this time to the spectators who are supposed to navigate their own way through warehouses of multimedia data. This, in the view of some, represents the ‘future of visual anthropology’.

In contrast to these various attempts to deny authorship, I shall argue that the works of most lasting value in the history of ethnographic film-making have been those in which authorship has been asserted through the combination of an ethnographic sensibility and the skilled use of the conventions of documentary cinema. This genre of film-making, I would refer to as ‘ethnographic documentary’.

However, if ethnographic documentary is to be consonant with the ethical posture and the aesthetic conventions of contemporary anthropology, this assertion of authorship should be low-key and self-denying, not in the interests of claiming some illusory objectivity but rather out of respect for the interests and form of life of the subjects.

20' presentation & 20' discussion, discussant is Mark Horton

Standing Place

Author: Ana Tovey (Chocolate Films)


High on a hill in rural New Zealand sits a concrete replica of Stonehenge, functioning like the original not only in its astronomical alignment but also in its role as a sacred site for pagan ritual. Through the opinions of the astronomers who built it, the neighbouring farmers, the local Maori and the Wiccans who use it for ritual, this observational documentary explores what it means to build such a place in a country where claims over historical connection to the land are at the forefront of national politics. Is it an attempt to simulate an historical presence in the land for Pakeha New Zealanders, or does it offer a space to work through the complex identities of postcolonial society?

This documentary was produced as part of my MA in Visual Anthropology (Ethnographic Documentary) at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester. It was filmed over 2 months in New Zealand in 2007.

31’ film

'Asmara, Eritrea'

Author: Caterina Borelli (Anonymous Productions)


Asmara - capital of the East African nation of Eritrea - is recognized as an architectural gem. In this film Asmarinos from different walks of life, guide us through the streets of their city and bring us to places of their choice. In doing so, and by talking about 'their own' Asmara, each person locates personal memories in public spaces investing the urban environment with individual meanings. Through their narrations - a chorus of different experiences embodying the nation - the country's history from colonialism to independence comes to life. While I was on location focusing on architecture, I realized that the individuals' narration revealed people's capacity to look at past events and repossess them as part of a collective history. A building that for me represented Italian fascism, for Asmarinos had already acquired a collective function that emptied it of its colonial symbolism. This process struck me as very meaningful and as fundamental for a cohesive society.

63' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Tacheles: a museum of itself

Author: Gemma Geldart (University of Bristol)


Situated in central Berlin, Tacheles is an unusual and unique building which has undergone many diverse changes and occupancies during its one hundred year history. This film was created as part of the MA in Archaeology for Screen Media and was produced as an 'alternative kind of site report' or document. Using Tacheles as a focal point and considering ideas such as reflexivity, subjectivity and experience of place as inspiration, the film attempts to explore issues of voice, knowledge and the way personal insight may be utilised within the discipline.

10’ film and 10’ filmmaker-led discussion

Being a tourist in one's own home

Author: Jaroslava Bagdasarova (Max Planck Institute)


Film represents rather preliminary rough draft of longer and hopefully more congruent piece dealing with an establishement of extreme tourism in polar regions such as Chukotka. In my research study as well my film work I would like to reveal how different community members conform their life-styles differently to such collective expectations such as making the village a tourist resort. As the film was made in an off-season, waiting for tourists gives time to local people reflect the question of travelling, displacement, and repatrition. The project of making the settlement a tourist place involves diverse understanding of what shall or shall not be considered to be suitable for external representation of culture. Possible discrepancies in such expectations shall be able to disclose how individuals reflect social imperatives and how they as individuals experience, redefine, and transmit culture, in particular, how they choose and practice their life-styles.

57' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Waila: the music of the Tohono O'odham

Author: Stephen Nugent (Goldsmiths)


Waila is the name of the music of the Tohono O'odham people of the Sonora Desert - Southern Arizona/Northern Mexico. Also widely known as 'chickenscratch', waila is played by small combos, typically featuring accordion, guitar, bass, drums, percussion as well as saxophone, bajo sexto and violin. Rarely sung, waila is primarily for dancing and is played at diverse social events on and off the reservation.

This film features Gertrude Lopez and her group, the Tohono O'odham Boyz. Gertie lives in Tucson where she works on the San Xavier portion of the Tohono O'odham reservation as a teacher and has had, for over a decade, a weekend residency at a South Tucson bar. A musician since childhood, she played in her father Augustine's mariachi band before setting off on her own with various of her brothers in waila bands. Although, as she notes, there are many female waila musicians on the reservation, none is as prominent as she, certainly none with a career as a veteran bandleader.

44' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Csonyik (an old traditional boat) is born

Authors: Emilia Pásztor (Matrica Museum)
Karath Imre (Magistratum Studio)


The 15 minute film shows how a wash tub maker, Janos Bogdan of gypsy origin, is carving an old traditional boat that is not used in fishing anymore, called csonyik from a single log.

Director - photographer: Imre Karath, Magistratum Studio, Hungary

15’ film and 10’ filmmaker-led discussion

Being Daisy

Author: Penelope Moore (University of Manchester)


Being Daisy is a film about music-making. Filmed in Austria, it centres on musician and composer Daisy Jopling. What is it like to live a life that is every day infused with music? For Daisy it is life-enhancing. Music is about everything and everything is about music. As Daisy searches for a still-point where thinking and doing and music and life can come together, we come to see music-making as a mirror for the many struggles involved in living a life.

Being Daisy was filmed and completed as an integral part of my PhD research and will be submitted as part of my thesis. I undertook fieldwork in Vienna with professional musicians. My interest focuses on how these musicians make the space to be creative. The thesis has come to be about how to create a musical life.

50’ film

Mirror Mirror

Author: Zemirah Moffat (Insightful Moves)


Mirror Mirror is half of Moffat's practice-led PhD thesis in visual anthropolgy. The thesis's main provocations are her personal understandings of queer, her dis-ease with fly-on-the-wall documentaries, and ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch's call for the academic to come down from the ivory tower and, using projector and camera, reciprocate his subjects' gifts of knowledge. she applied Rouch's vision to London's contemporary queer site Club Wotever, an equally hospitable place that likewise values dialogue, creativity and exchange over and above absolute definitions of self and other.

58' film

Morokapel's Feast. The story of a Kara hunting ritual

Author: Felix Girke (Universität Konstanz)


This film follows the events triggered by a young man's killing of a leopard with a self-made trap in Kara, Southern Ethiopia. Anthropologist Felix Girke and film-maker Steffen Köhn follow the protagonists as a social drama slowly emerges: during the feast which celebrates the hunter's achievement, a challenge as to the ownership of the precious hide is issued. The events of the film reveal how ritual rules are strategically manipulated and contested for not entirely evident reasons

The award-winning "Morokapel's Feast" has been screened at over a dozen festivals in Europe and beyond.

26 film

Renata's Family

Author: Lia Philcox (Goldsmiths College, University of London)


Renata's Family: the last resort of an eccentric Czech ex-pat artist, living out a psychedelic fantasy of animistic beliefs and exotic spirituality by an Indian beach with her animal family? Or, sustainable eco-spiritual micro-society?

Czechoslovakian born Renata gave up a high-flying, high risk lifestyle of international contraband over 12 years ago, choosing instead to settle by a beach in Goa, India, where she discovered her artistic talents. She believes that her grandmother's spirit inhabits her canine companion, Pepinka, in order to help her through life. Pepinka's offspring and add-ons now number 21, comprising, along with 5 chickens and one small cat, Renata's family. Having cultivated a close material and spiritual relationship with her organic environment over the years, Renata fulfils much of the family's needs with natural materials available immediately around her. She supplements this free supply using her psychedelic fluorescent paintings as goods for exchange through social networks including other ex-pats, tourists and Goans. Generally harmonious, occasionally chaotic, and often comical, the low-tech life of Renata's family challenges notions of civilisation and reality.

This collaborative film is an experimental representation of Renata's world, incorporating Renata's aesthetics, also portrayed in the form and content of her art, and her filmic ideas, which emerged as she became more aware of the potentials of the medium. Her life in Goa provides a window on a cosmopolitan local context and a wider global one, and as such is integral to my PhD research.

51' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Salama Vazaha (Hello Stranger)

Author: David Picard (University of Lausanne)


Salama Vazaha (Hello Stranger) has been filmed in a fishing village in the South-West of Madagascar. It is about the relationships between the villagers and various human and non-human 'strangers' - ancestor and tromba spirits, Western NGO workers, ecotourists, fish collectors, cattle rustlers and the ethnographic filmmaker. Through a series of everyday life episodes, it provides insights into the ontology of these relationships and the strategies employed by the villagers to make them work for their economic and political purposes. Through its specific ethnographic focus, the film points towards more generic issues related to hospitality practice, frictions in the field of environmental action and transnational forms of collaboration.

56' film

Servants of Ganesh: inside the elephant stable

Authors: Piers Locke (University of Canterbury)
Mark Dugas (One World Films)


Servants of Ganesh is set in the Khorsor Elephant Breeding Center in Chitwan, Nepal. Showing us the daily lives of the handlers and the role of their elephants in nature tourism and in the management of the Chitwan National Park, Servants of Ganesh documents the training of a young elephant named Paras Gaj. The film follows his separation from his mother, the sacrificial rituals conducted to secure the goodwill of the gods, the evening training sessions in which he is familiarised with the sensations of the wider world, his daily driving training sessions, and the developing intimacy of the ritually regulated relationship between himself and his trainer Satya Narayan. Training is revealed as a focus of communal life in the elephant stable, where handlers and their elephants develop intimate relationships, and where we see how a shared community of practice forges an occupational identity among a professional sub group living in a total institution. Servants of Ganesh was shot by Mark Dugas during Piers Locke's doctoral fieldwork on identity and apprenticeship learning in Nepali captive elephant management in close collaboration with the handlers of Khorsor with whom Piers lived.

42' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Casado's Legacy

Author: Valentina Bonifacio (Ca' Foscari University of Venice)


For 100 years Maskoy people worked in Carlos Casado's tannin factory. The factory, which had been founded on their land, based its production on the exploitation of local natural resources. After exploiting the territory, the company closed the factory and sold the land. Focusing on dialogues and encounters between the Maskoy and other people we get to know their past and dreams, and the role of non-indigenous politicians in shaping the present and future of their lives.

Three stories develop in parallel during the film: a long walk through Casado's abandoned factory and house, a female initiation ritual (the first one after a gap of many years) and a trip of the Maskoy leaders to the capital city of Paraguay (Asuncion).

Casado's legacy - a land without food - is a common one for many peoples all around the world. As such, what takes shape through the experiences and challenges of a small group of indigenous people in a remote part of Paraguay has a universal resonance.

At the same time, the film also portrays the encounter between the anthropologist (and film-maker) and the people with whom she lived for almost a year, looking at their struggles in building their future, but also evoking the happiness of everyday life.

49' film and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

Manang Nora

Author: Seng-Guan Yeoh (Monash University)


In the famous mountain resort city of Baguio City, the Philippines, there are an estimated 3,000 street vendors. Manang Nora is one of them and has been vending for the past 20 years. She sells snacks, cigarettes and toys in front of a Chinese language-medium school. To the school children and passersby, she is called "Mother" or "Manang" (elder sister). This film offers a glimpse into the routines and life experiences of Manang Nora.

This film is part of an ongoing larger comparative visual and ethnographic study on city spaces and street vendors in the Philippines and Indonesia. This particular documentary was filmed over two short periods - in 2006 and 2008.

Manang Nora was selected to be screened recently in the Quebec Ethnographic Film Festival (2009).

36' film

Be on the track of our ancestors 1-3

Authors: Emilia Pásztor (Matrica Museum)
Karath Imre (Magistratum Studio)


Imre Karáth cinematographer and Emília Pásztor archaeologist have had several cultural history expeditions in various areas of Central-Asia to study the living traditions in relation to archaeological heritage of ancient Hungarians. They created a film series on their experience:

I. Bridge of understanding

The 23 minute film shows the rich mixture of different religious beliefs and ceremonies of the region. Despite of the very different beliefs, rituals and customs, people coexist in peace and respect.

II. Spring Festival for Nature 19 minutes

The makers got an invitation from the Buriat ethnic group for an odd forest ceremony, a spring festival. It was performed with the lead of Buddhistic monks' sacrificial rites for good harvest and for the good health of people and domestic animals, but it involved ancient traditions too. Nowadays the tasks of descendants are to keep clean the earth, air and waters, namely to keep nature in balance. This episode of the series tracks the mixing and reawakening of forbidden Buddhist theories and the ancient traditions in the last decades.

III. Living Traditions

The 26 minute film shows the living traditions of Central Asia, the craftsmen working in the streets outside their houses, the everyday life of people in the countryside.

23’, 19 & 26’ films and 15’ filmmaker-led discussion

The seagull flying against the wind

Author: Jaroslava Bagdasarova (Max Planck Institute)


Anthropological research on temporary migration and inclusion of "Other" preceded the film production. Film itself portrays several Arctic students who live temporarily in Saint Petersburg. They are driven by knowledge and civilization, yet at the same time they return mentally to their roots. In order to feel more secure and sure of themselves, they organize their dance group where they rediscover their "traditional culture". This place suddenly reminds of a small "Chukotka" set right in the metropolis. One of the traditional dances gave name to the whole film. The seagull flight through a gorge is a metaphor for these young people, who instead of struggling in the culturally new environment let themselves be driven in the currents of both overwhelming modernity and self-perfection.

15' film and 10’ filmmaker-led discussion

Monti moments: men's memories in the heart of Rome

Author: Michael Herzfeld (Harvard University)


This documentary provides an intimate portrait of social change in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Rome. Told through thoroughly engaging informal conversations with local inhabitants, the film speaks to important issues at the heart of contemporary social science -- issues of history, memory, and voice -- as well as to the effects of rapid socioeconomic change in urban neighborhoods. The inhabitants offer an eloquent, bittersweet commentary on the culture of Rome and how it has dramatically changed in recent years.

The film captures the poignant memories and quiet desperation of, specifically, local men as they face increasing threats to their lives as artisans and shopkeepers and as residents of a once mostly working-class neighborhood amid some of Rome's most famous monuments. Their standing as economic providers and true representatives of the local culture is now threatened by a massive epidemic of evictions and by astronomical cost increases. They nevertheless recall with wry humor the poverty, scandals, and glories of a past that for them is still very much alive and that animates the sun-warmed ocher walls and diamond-shaped cobblestones of their quarter.

Constant incursions of raucous traffic, the callous disregard of the rich and powerful, and the relentless invasion of market forces (with their attendant retinue of conniving loan-sharks) have not blunted their appreciative wit or their devotion to a richly variegated history -- a history that emerges visibly in the often florid manifestations of corruption, illegality, and rebellion.

Taxi-drivers debate the comparative merits of old editions of historical books; a butcher recalls the anti-fascist commitments of a family that has lived in the same house since 1704; a newsagent muses over an old photograph that connects his family's business to a thousand years of local architecture; worries over rent and factory competition shadow the glowing inventions of a glassmaker's art; two friends recall moments of knavish wit and bitter tragedy; and the film documents the social and physical environment the evictees are now losing. Sadness and decay, but also resilient cheer and irreverent banter, suffuse everyday life amidst the intensely local remnants of church and empire.

(Distributed by Berkeley Media LLC)

39' film and 15’ director-led discussion

Black Mountain

Author: Charlotte Whitby-Coles


There is little work undertaken visually on this specific subject and it is hoped that the film provides an innovative way of using the anthropological research methods of participant observation and unstructured interviews to provide a mosaic of visuals and interwoven interviews that provide a unique way of picturing and documenting the information provided through the long-term research process undertaken. This is put together using a heavily reflexive autobiographical voiceover that provides the context in which the research was undertaken that the film-maker believed necessary in order to be able to explain the context and place of the researcher within the process and importantly the historical and current political context within which the information generated could be placed.

84' film and 15’ director-led discussion

Making it interesting... On mediatization of wedding rituals

Authors: Sławomir Sikora (University of Warsaw)
Karolina Dudek (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences)


In the past a wedding ceremony used to be commemorated with only one single photograph taken in an atelier. The range of photographs in a wedding album has expanded year by year and they became photo essays. With the appearance of a new medium - VHS tape - began the epoch of wedding films. Nowadays digital films are extraordinary multimedia collages, to a great extent products of direction and styling and photographers/filmmakers become real masters of ceremonies. The philosophy of a wedding film appears to be simple - it's all about making it interesting...

The film juxtaposes anthropologists' footage shot during the wedding of a Polish-English couple and interviews made later on with original material shot by the wedding photographers and the film they made of it. This heteroglotic narration is just as much interesting image of contemporary wedding ceremony as meta-commentary on a global phenomenon of wedding films.

more info:

© Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw 2009

73’ film

Paris of my exiles

Author: Rina Sherman (ACA LTFA)


I depict how I saw Paris on my return from a seven year sojourn with the Ovahimba of Namibia.

To the amazement and the disarray of such a return, was added the death of three friends, Jean Rouch, mentor, Didier Contant, grand reporter, the Headman of Etanga, father of my life.

I renew ties with Paris, city in which I settled when I left South Africa for exile in 1984, by returning to familiar places and discovering new ones.

The re-establishment of the dignity of journalist Didier Contant, who died during his investigation into the assassination of the Monks of Tibhirine in Algeria in 1996, marked this period. I trace the evolution of this process that lead me to publish the book, « Le huitième mort de Tibhirine », and to visit North Africa for the first time.

A time during which returning and mourning became entangled, a time during which I was constantly thinking of my Ovahimba friends, whom I would see on the screen every day as I edited films about my stay with them.

Between periods of filming in Paris, I travelled to Algiers, Cape Town, Etanga (Namibia), filming all the while, and one morning overlooking the Bay of Algiers, I imagined a link between Paris, Cape Town, Etanga and North Africa, and hence the circle of exile that started in 1984 was finally closed.

This film is an I-Fiction - reality provides the elements with which to narrate the doings of an inner state.

49’ film

Patrasche a dog of Flanders - made in Japan

Authors: An van Dienderen (Ghent University)
Didier Volckaert


Japanese tourists visit the cathedral of Antwerp in Flanders daily. In front of a Rubens' painting they start to cry. Nobody in Flanders has any idea that they are moved because of a book written 133 years ago. The novel recounts a story about Nello and his dog Patrasche. They die in each other's arms in front of the Rubens' painting. This book, "A Dog of Flanders" is taught in Japanese high schools, and has inspired numerous films and TV series in Japan and the States. By contrast, the novel was translated into Flemish only in 1987. Belgians are hardly interested in the novel and its many admirers worldwide.

Why has the author of the novel situated the story in Flanders? How does she represent Flanders? And why are Japanese and Americans so attracted by this story? What images have they creating of Flanders based on this story? And why is the story so unknown in Flanders?

The documentary evokes different representations of Flanders based on the novel. Starting from a small house in Flanders the author-narrator embarks on a trip trough these images. Scenes from 35mm and 16mm prints of USA films, and the Japanese anime series, numerous illustrations found in first print books from the UK, USA and Japan, etc. The documentary continuously flirts with imaginary versions of Flanders. It is a prism, through which the viewer can experience how flu reality is and how a small book can stigmatize <> create an entire culture.

Shortlisted for Grierson:Sheffield Awards 2008 in the Innovation Award category

85' film