Ethnographic Film History


Ethnographic Film History

Aims and Objectives:

The purpose of the course is to achieve – by lectures from the teachers, and by the students’ own presentations and analyses of the films – a critical thinking of ethnographic film as a mode of representation. We will explore the history, conceptual innovations, and technological developments in the presentation of ethnographic knowledge in film and video. Students are introduced to major films, filmmakers and contemporary debates and will critically analyse the ways various ethnographic films contribute to our understanding or misunderstanding of the diversity and similarity of human cultures. In each class, we will watch and discuss films that exemplify approaches to documenting and presenting the diverse peoples and cultures of the world. By the end of the course you should be familiar with:

  • How to analyse ethnographic films. Attention is given to the description of the course of events in the film, how one scene is related to the other, description of the subjects and the different social arenas presented in the film.
  • How to recognize the different genres in ethnographic filmmaking. Attention is given to the filmmaker, subject, shooting style and editing technique.
  • The course should also contribute to develop skills in oral presentations.




  • thes films will just be made available for teachers due to questions of rights.


The different films: 

Nanook of the North




Cora and Celso