Film in Cross Cultural Research – SVF 3105

The purpose of the course is to engage critically with ethnographic film as a mode of representation. Students will be introduced to important films, filmmakers and contemporary debates.

We will explore the history, conceptual developments, and technological innovations in the presentation of ethnographic knowledge through film and video. The goal is to analyse different ways in which ethnographic films shape our attitude towards the diversities and similarities of human cultures.

In each class, we will watch and discuss one film that exemplifies approaches to documenting and presenting the diverse peoples and cultures of the world.

Every lesson at the university will start with watching of a video-lecture. It will be followed by a presentation of the film by a student. In some cases there will be another video-lecture following the film screening. Every lesson finishes with the discussion.

Each student must choose one film from the list and give a 10 minutes oral presentation analyzing it with respect to the main themes of the course.  To be able to prepare your presentations you will get access to the film two weeks before the presentation in class. 

By the end of the course students should be capable of  

  • analyzing ethnographic films by paying special attention to the relation of individual scenes to each other as well as to the description of the subjects and social arenas presented in the film.
  • recognizing the different genres, filming styles and editing techniques in ethnographic filmmaking and its relation to the subject presented.
  • the course should also contribute to develop skills in oral presentations.

Online Lecture Series

Every online teaching tool consists of video-lectures (screened at the beginning of every class at the university), source materials and written assignments.

Lecture 1 – Early Pioneers, Nanook of the North (1922)

Lecture 2 – Direct Cinema, Salesman (1969)

Lecture 3 – Cinema Verité, Chronicle of a Summer (1961)

Lecture 4 – Observational Cinema, Celso and Cora (1983)

Lecture 5 – Women’s Worlds, Maasai Women (1974)

Lecture 6 – Camera Based Situational Analysis, Les Maîtres Fous (1955)

Lecture 7 – Overview of Film History in West Africa

Lecture 8 – North South Relationships

Lecture 9 – Native Filmmaking, Djeneba (2012)

Lecture 10 – Wives (2018)

Lecture 11 – The Chateau (2018)