ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM FESTIVALS AROUND THE WORLD
(sorted by date according to the academic year).
NEW! Delhi International Ethnographic Film Festival. The first film festival took place in November 2008 at the Department of Sociology, Delhi University. The organizers hope to hold it every two years. The only ethnographic festival in Asia that I attended, highly recommended.
Sardinia International Ethnographic Film Festival, Nuoro, Italy. Organised by the Istituto Superiore Regionale Etnografico of Sardinia. The location on the island of Sardinia is very alluring. If I make it there this September for my film screening, more info will follow. Biennial. Competitive. September.
Russian Festival of Anthropological Films, Salekhard, Russia. The only city in the world located exactly on the Arctic Circle in Western Siberia. The festival charters a plane from Moscow and flies all the filmmakers to the tundra. An incredible cultural experience, highly recommended, but be prepared to experience linguistic challenges if you don't speak any Russian. Competitive. September.
Festival of Visual Culture (Viscult), Joensuu, Finland. This small festival thrives on creating a tightly-knit community of filmmakers and anthropologists who are almost all in attendance. Be prepared to learn a lot about Karelia, a region of Finland where the festival takes place, as well as to take the Q&As beyond the screening rooms and into some of these late night sauna sessions. Superb organization, live streaming over the internet, and a different theme every year. Non-competitive. September.
Moscow International Visual Anthropology Festival, Moscow, Russia. A relatively new festival held at the Moscow State University. I have not been able to make it there yet, but can testify that the festival is run by really nice people and is well attended by the Russian anthropological milieu. Competitive. October.
RAI Film Festival, England, location varies. Organized joinly by the Royal Anthropological Institute's Film Committee and the host institution. Biennial, alternate years with Göttingen festival. Competitive, includes student competition. October-November.
Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, New York, USA. The oldest festival for international documentaries in the US founded by the American Museum of Natural History in 1977, in honor of anthropologist Margaret Mead on her seventy-fifth birthday. The festival is not strictly ethnographic and most recently it seems to be moving towards more mainstream documentary dealing with cultural issues. Non-competitive. November.
SVA Film and Video Festival, USA, location varies. It is a part of the annual American Anthropological Association conference - a huge chaotic event with several thousand anthropologists in attendance. Unfortunately, the festival is primarily a screening with no post-screening discussions with filmmakers. Competitive. November.
International Festival of Ethnological Film, Belgrade, Serbia. November.
Festival do Filme Documentário e Etnográfico, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. November (end).
Ethnographic Film Festival of Montreal, Canada. Hosted by the students from anthropology departments across Montreal and Quebec. January.
Tartu Festival of Visual Culture, Tartu, Estonia. A new festival (started 2004) held at the Estonian National Museum. I have not been there but it's been getting rave reviews from fellow filmmakers. March, just before Bilan du Film Ethnographique.
Bilan Du Film Ethnographique, Paris, France. One of the oldest ethnographic festivals founded by Jean Rouch held annually at the Musée de l'Homme since 1982. Competitive. March. (Comité du film Ethnographique also organizes Regards Comparés - a non-competitive event focused on a specific ethnic group or country. October).
Eyes and Lenses: Ethnographic Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland. Competitive. March.
Göttingen International Film Festival, Göttingen, Germany. Organized by the IWF Knowledge and Media, the festival includes two sections: a non-competitive main section and a competitive student competition held two days before the start of the main festival. It is biennial, alternating years with RAI film festival. May.
Beeld voor Beeld, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Beeld Voor Beeld or "Image by Image," an ethnographic and documentary festival, now called "Festival on Culture and Representation." All films are followed by extensive discussions with filmmakers. Features a separate section of student films. Non-competitive. June.
NAFA Film Festival, Northern Europe, location varies. The Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) is an organization for cooperation within the field of visual anthropology in the North European countries. It runs the annual conference and film festival. June.
Pärnu International Documentary and Anthropology Festival, Pärnu, Estonia. One of the oldest ethnographic festivals in the former Soviet Union. Located in Pärnu, a well-known Estonian resort town. I unfortunately could not make it there when my film was screened but they did send me a handwoven Estonian sweater for the award that I won. Competitive. July.
Program in Culture and Media, New York University, New York. This is my program so I'm obviously biased. Let me just say that it is run by leading scholars in the field of anthropology of media and indigeneity. It is more theoretical rather than production oriented, being a track within the PhD program in Cultural Anthropology. It does include some production training but the strength of the program lies in providing students with the latest theoretical tools for pursuing ethnography of visual media production.
Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, Manchester, UK. The 14-month MA track is great for quick hands-on production experience and basics of the history of the discipline while the PhD track is innovative in that it integrates film production into a conventional dissertation process. I'm a graduate of the MA program.
Other graduate programs in Visual Anthropology - a comprehensive list with links and descriptions compiled by VisualAnthropology.net
VisualAnthropology.net - Italy-based site which provides news and resources in visual anthropology and publishes an electronic newsletter.
Smithsonian Human Studies Film Archives, Suitland, MD, USA. Now known as National Anthropological Archives, they include manuscripts, fieldnotes, correspondence, photographs, maps, sound recordings, film and video created by Smithsonian anthropologists and other scholars.
Documentary Educational Resources, Watertown, MA, USA. One of the oldest and extensive distributors of ethnographic films in the US.
Harvard Film Study Center, Cambridge, MA, USA. The Film Study Center at Harvard University was founded in 1957 for the purpose of supporting work that records and interprets the world in images and sounds. Some classics of the anthropological genre have been produced there.
Society for Visual Anthropology, USA. Founded in 1984, the Society for Visual Anthropology is a section of the American Anthropological Association, which promotes the study of visual representaion and media. It publishes its own journal, Visual Anthropology Review.
Coordinating Anthropological Film Festivals in Europe (CAFFE) - a newly formed initiative geared towards better cooperation and communication between the existing anthropological film festivals in Europe.
European Association of Social Anthropologists
Visual Anthropology Network. A Visual Anthropology section of EASA, professional association for cultural anthropologists either qualified in, or else working in, Europe.