A country auction revisited: reflexing musings about a film
Jay Ruby (Temple University)
Milton R.A. Machuca-Gálvez (Swarthmore College)
Paper short abstract:
A screening of two ethnographic films -A Country Auction: The Paul V. Leitzel Estate Sale (1983) and Reflexive Musings: A Country Auction Study Film followed by a discussion lead by the filmmakers.
Paper long abstract:
In 1983 three ethnographers and a documentary filmmaker collaboratively produced a film — A Country Auction: The Paul V. Leitzel Estate Sale that documented ethnographic research conducted on estate sales in a rural Pennsylvania community. It examined the personal, social and economic processes involved when a family dissolves their homestead. The film portrayed the auction process as integral to the social life of the community and as a method for a family and community to deal with the death of one of their members. Over the next 25 years, this film was screened in numerous film festivals, broadcast on U.S. public television, and reviewed in academic journals. The consensus among the filmmakers was that few people comprehended their intentions. In 2008 they decided to return to the community where A Country Auction was filmed and hold a 25th anniversary screening. In addition, the four filmmakers came together to engage in a prolonged critical discussion of the original film. This discussion became the basis for Reflexive Musings: A Country Auction Study Film, a unique reflexive exploration of the successes and failures of an ethnographic film. Following the screening Jay Ruby, one of the co-producers of A Country Auction and Milton Machuca, director of Reflexive Musings will lead a discussion about these unique films and their relationship to the development of an anthropological cinema.