Ethnographic Film Festivals

Authored by: Carlo Cubero

The Routledge International Handbook of Ethnographic Film and Video

Print publication date:  April  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367185824
eBook ISBN: 9780429196997
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the role that the film festival format plays in informing the terms of ethnographic cinema. 1 I examine this question in a context where the theoretical interests and technological conditions in which ethnographic cinema is produced are shifting both within and outside of anthropology. These theoretical shifts are related to the broadening of visual anthropology’s network to include fields such as the anthropology of the senses, practice-based research, and the relationship between visual anthropology and the exhibition and culture industry. These theoretical developments occur in tandem with the digitization of the production and distribution process, a process which has facilitated production rates, contributed to an increase in thematic film festivals, and eased the process of distribution of content across disciplinary lines. This expansion of the film festival industry has facilitated a space for ethnographic film festivals to articulate a self-reflexive event that attracts audiences and filmmakers from within and outside of anthropology, thus blurring lines around the notion of traditional ethnographic film and anthropological cinema. In this chapter I will revisit the role of the ethnographic film festival in this expanding and shifting context and offer some indications as to how curators and ethnographic filmmakers navigate these shifts productively.

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