Methodology / Films and Images

Posted by Sei Lee on September 25, 2011
Sep 252011

01. Yes, I know there are absolute urgent situations all over the world. I would say, however, zones of emergency may exist only from the perspective of people who are able to feel a sense of emergency. In terms of this, multimedia can play a crucial role as a way of making knowledge, which helps people figure out co-existing but unknown worlds.

‘The beautiful, breathtaking Human Planet footage allows us a tiny window on the lives of an uncontacted tribe. Watching it is quite overwhelming, and amazing numbers of people who have seen it have been moved to take action to protect uncontacted tribes.” (Tess Thackara, Survival International USA)

Survival international > Film/Video clips


02. One of Survival International’s methodologies is making their own films. In terms of this, I’d like to juxtapose roughly excerpts and links about two different cases of making films about tribes. It would link to intriguing questions, ideas and discussions if we seek to find ways of seeing tribe’s fights with camera eye in the context of intersection of ethnographic films and indigenous media.

03. Ethnographic Films (Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby, Made to be seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology, p 197-198)


Felix-Louis Regnault, 1923

“Only cinema provides objective documents in abundance; thanks to cinema, the anthropologist can, today, collect the life of all peoples; he will possess in his drawers all the special acts of different races. He will be able to thus have contact at the same time with a great number of peoples. He will study, when it pleases hims, the series of movements that man executes for squatting, climbing trees, seizing and handling objects with his feet, etc. He will be present at feasts, at battles, at religious and civil ceremonies at different ways of trading, eating, relaxing.


Jean Rouch, 1950s-1970s

“Rouch initiated his collaborative approach in a number of early films made with West Africans, such as Les maîtres fous (The Mad Masters, 1955), which was criticized by some because of an assumed ethnocentric emphasis on the bizarre. At the same time, others considered it among the best surrealist films (Adamowicz, 1993). Rouch sought a “shared anthropology” with his ethnographic “science fiction” films, such as Jaguar(1965) and Petit a petit(1971), and worked with his African collaborators for over forty years.”


Jean Rouch, 1970s-1980s

“Rouch’s attempt to allow us to see the world through the eyes of those traditionally in front of the camera was taken a step further in the Navajo Film Project by Sol Worth and Jojn Adair (1973), when some Navajos were taught the technology of filmmaking without the Western ideology usually attached to it (Worth, 1981). Since the 1970s Sarah Elder and Leonard Kamerling, through the University of Alsaka’s Alaska Native Heritage Film Project, produced more than fifteen community-collaborative films, such as Uksuum Cauyai: The Drums of Winter(1988), in which the people filmed played an active role in the film from conceptualization to realization (Elder and Kamerling, 1995) In the 1990s and beyond “indigenous media” have been produced by people who had traditionally been the subject of ethnographic films. Through the efforts of such people as Vincente Carelli in Brazzil, Eric Micahels in Australia and Terence Turner in Brail, many indigenous people have been enabled to produce their own media.”