martes, 17 de noviembre de 2009

Ethnographic Cinema (EC) - A Manifesto/A Provocation

So-called ethnographic films are, in fact, films about culture and not films that pictorially convey ethnographic knowledge. They are produced by professional filmmakers who have little or no knowledge of anthropology and by anthropologists who thoughtlessly follow the dictates of documentary realism.

For a cinema to exist that furthers the purposes of anthropology, the following must occur:

1. EC must be the work of academically educated and academically employed socio-cultural anthropologists. EC can only be a consequence of ethnographic research by trained ethnographers who professionally engage in academic discourse on a regular basis. EC must be an extension of their work as anthropologists, intellectuals and scholars.

2. EC must be avowedly anti-realist, anti-positivist, dissociated from the canons of documentary realism and free to borrow from all forms of cinema - fiction and non-fiction.

3. EC must seek to increase the agency of those imaged with techniques such as multivocality and to reflexively de-center the authority of the maker while at the same time accepting the moral burden of authorship.

4. EC must explore the limits of pictorial media as a means of anthropological expression.

5. If EC is to succeed it, will probably confuse its audience at first. It is therefore essential that its makers be painfully obvious and assist viewers.

6. EC must have modest production values, tiny budgets, low costs for production and distribution if it is to escape the restrictions of the commercial world. EC, therefore, has no economic potential. No one can make a living from its products. It is the act of the scholar seeking to communicate scholarly knowledge.

7. EC must be removed from the economic dictates of public and state television, funding agencies who except a popularly accessible product and distribution companies who must circulate work that produces income. New forms of funding and distribution must be created.

8. EC acknowledges the inadequacy of all film festivals and other venues currently available. It must seek to create screening and discussion environments that emphasize scholarly debate about the contribution these works make to an anthropological discourse.

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