Culture reflected through the camera lens
By HANNAH BROWN
The second Anthropological Film Festival in J'lem offers a fascinating lineup of ethnographic films.
No genre of film has emerged stronger over the past decade than the documentary,
and documentaries are a wonderful way to preserve, share and illuminate
anthropological research. So those interested in the field – or anyone who
enjoys a well-crafted documentary – will be excited about the Second
Anthropological Film Festival which will take place at the Jerusalem
Cinematheque from November 27-29.
More than 20 films will be shown, and
author and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of the
famous anthropologist Margaret Mead, will be the festival’s special guest.
Bateson will present a collection of short films by her parents, Margaret Mead
and Gregory Bateson, on the subject of culture and personality, that were made
as part of their research in the Thirties.
In addition, two new films on
the subject from Scotland and Ethiopia will be shown.
All the films will
focus on the development of personality in the childhood years, and will be
introduced by Bateson. In a separate program, she will present the film The
Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song, about an elderly alcoholic woman in Guyana,
directed by Christy Garland.
The festival is a collaborative project of
the Jerusalem Film Center and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at
the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The brainchild of documentary filmmakers Ada
Ushpiz (Desert Brides and many other films) and Nurit Kedar (whose films include
Bettone, about the Cast Lead operation in Gaza in 2009), the festival is
designed to help promote documentary filmmaking with an ethnographic orientation
and to reflect the complexities of life in all kinds of communities all over the
world. The documentaries are recent and will all be followed by a Q & A
session with academics and writers.
The films are from all over the world
and cover a wide range of topics. The opening event will be a screening of
Sunday in Brazzaville, a look at a day of music and joy in the Congolese
capital, directed by Enric Bach and Adria Mones. The opening program will
feature a performance by System Ali, a hip-hop ensemble that performs in Hebrew,
Arabic, Russian and English that was founded in a bomb shelter in the Ajami
neighborhood of Jaffa.
Dance with the Wodaabes, directed by Sandrine
Loncke, is a look at traditional ritual war dances among Nigerian
Manuela Bastian’s Pink Struggle tells the story of a
self-educated mother of five in rural India who formed a group of women who
dress in pink saris and protect their communities against injustice and crimes
committed by the police and the privileged.
Acclaimed novelist Aharon
Appelfeld will introduce Dieter Auner’s Off the Beaten Track, a film about
shepherds in Transylvania whose traditional lifestyle is threatened by the
complexity of modern economic reality.
Other films deal with the tension
between tradition and modernity. Aleksei Vakhrushev’s The Tundra Book: A Tale of
Vukvukai, the Little Rock, is about a family of nomadic herders living on
eastern Russia’s tundra peninsula who cope with climate change, harsh conditions
and the lure of the big cities for their young people.
Julia Meltzer and
Laura Nix’s The Light in Her Eyes is about the first school for teaching the
Koran to women and girls in Damascus.
Sasha Friedlander’s Where Heaven
Meets Hell is about miners working in volcanic sulfur mines in Indonesia and
trying to preserve their health and sanity.
Little Heaven, directed by
Lieven Corthouts, tells the story of a young girl in Ethiopia infected with
AIDS, who struggles to understand what this means for her and her
Dan Reed’s Children of the Tsunami examines the stories of 74
children from one school who were killed in the 2011 tsunami in Japan, and
focuses on the impact this tragedy has had on their community.
out more details about the festival, order tickets and view clips from the
films, go to the Jerusalem Cinematheque Website at http://www.jer-cin.org.il