13th EASA Biennial Conference: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution innovation and continuity in an interconnected world.
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University, Estonia
31st July – 3rd August, 2014
Convenors: Carlo Cubero (Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University); Pille Runnel (Estonian National Museum); Enrico Barone (Tallinna Ülikoool)
Location: SuperNova cinema hall, Nova building
Thursday 31st July: A Revolutionary Generation
Filmmaker: Arash T. Riahi; Running time: 88′
It is only the second time that Indonesians can vote for their own president. Two charismatic women, however, are not satisfied with mere elections and are setting out to collect 1.5 million signatures of the poorest, who are constantly threatened by the local arbitrary justice and the desires of the global capital. Can the power of a small elite really be overthrown by the power of many, or is «real democracy» just an ideal? With this political road-documentary the director portrays social changes and improvements in his mother’s old homeland.
In Search for El Dorado
Filmmaker: Jean-Frederic de Hasque (UCL); Running time: 72′
In 2005 JF de Hasque travelled to Sévaré in Mali, to the home town of Yambo Ouologuem, who in 1968 was the first African writer to be awarded the Renaudot literary prize. Ouologuem no longer wants to see white people, an attitude he adopted 30 years ago. The desire to analyse the relationships between black and white people and the hopes of the new generation of young Malians has led to this documentary film entitled Où est l’Eldorado? / In Search of Eldorado, shot in Barnako and Sévaré in the company of 5 young university graduates who founded a club in honour of the writer.
Friday 1st August: The Collaborative Revolution
The Go-between: Afar of Ethiopia
Filmmakers: Frode Storaas (University of Bergen), Rolf Scott, Getachew Kassa; Running time: 35′
The islamic pastoral Afars inhabit the north eastern rangelands of Ethiopia. Some have settled in towns and trade centres where also the Ethiopian government is present with the police and other government officials. Many Afars have a foot in both sectors, having a home in town while maintaining close contact with their nomadic relatives. Hussein Hayie has a government position as Peace and Security officer. His work is to judge whether an incident should be handled as a criminal case for the police or be left as a case to be solved the traditional way by the elders of the clans. The Afar political organization is based on both territory and kinship. The political institutions are geared towards social control and the resolution of conflicts. The tribal leaders are often called upon to intervene before a small matter escalates to homicide and if homicide occurs, to work out agreements of compensation in order to avoid blood-feuds. The film follows Hussein Hayie in town and when he visits his families in the nomadic camps. As a government employee he is continuously on duty and in the film we see how he is called to act.
The Yayas de l´elégance / Le voyage de la SAPE
Filmmaker: Maria Jose Pavlovic (University of Manchester); Running time: 28′
«The Yayas de l´elégance» is a film about the world of the SAPE. This is the acronym for the Society for Ambience Makers and Elegant People. Originally from the Republic of Congo, their followers are a popular phenomena both in Central Africa and Europe. Throughout elegant clothes and the manners that imitate those of the dandy, the sapeur´s main goal is the one of travelling to Paris. It is in the acknowledged fashion´s capital where they can improve their looks and live the parisian lifestyle. Only after this experience, they can return to the Congo and be recognised as real sapeurs. Therefore they will be call a «yaya», a very grand sapeur. The Sapeurs belong to a subculture that touches political and ethnical issues in the Congo. It is a complex cultural discourse that is often described as a paradox. A way of contesting poverty and unemployment through the use of modern symbols of status like expensive clothes. A pacific strategy created by the congolese in which they can negotiate conflict and ethnical divisions in which the weapons are the clothes. It is a display of manhood and at the same time, a performance of identity. An ambiguous competition in the search for power, recognition and legitimacy amongst their community. The film is an attempt of interpretation of this symbolic world and was inspired by Jean Rouch´s masterpiece «Les Maitres Fous».
Together as One
Filmmaker: Lamtur Tanlaka Kilian (University of Tromsø/The Arctic University of Norway); Running time: 26′
Together as one shows the social use of kola nut in Nso’ society. Nso’ is the biggest Kingdom of the Western Grassfields and an ethnic group in the northeast corner of Cameroon’s North West region. The Nso’ population counts Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional religious beliefs. This film shows what a thing, a nut or a natural resource, can mean to people (Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional religious beliefs) in Nso society (Cameroon). Kola nut is an item around which the feeling, experience, sense, and lived «reality» of belonging, togetherness, being together, unity, oneness, friendship and peace is being expressed. The kola nut thus plays an important role in bringing very diverse people together, irrespective of their religion, village, quarter, or thoughts. In this sense, kola nut brings about a feeling of togetherness, fellowship, and belonging to a group.
Huchi – Honey
Filmmaker: Martin Gruber (University of Bremen); Running time: 39′
The film «Honey» depicts the production of honey from wild bees as well as different aspects of honey consumption in the highlands of central Angola where honey is an important means of subsistence and cash income. The film was conceived and shot by a group of villagers from the Cusseque area. «Honey» is the outcome of a participatory film workshop organised by Martin Gruber and Miguel Hilario for the interdisciplinary research project «The Future Okavango», investigating sustainable resource management in the Okavango Basin. Directed & shot by: Adelina Antónia, Martin Gruber, Miguel S. Hilario, Henriques Bino Job, Fatima Jose & Evaristo Quintas.
Artistic Office: constructing the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art
Filmmaker: Lidia Rossner (Free University Berlin); Running time: 50′
Artistic Office (2012) aims to shed insights onto the workings of a large-scale international art exhibition. Comprised of visible forms of complex social processes, the film attempts to expose the mechanisms of how an exhibition is conceptualized and realized. The 7th Berlin Biennale for contemporary art was a discourse-oriented performative exhibit, which attempted to transform the reality of contemporary politics through socially engaged art. The underlying focus of my research was to understand how culture is constructed within an elite art institution, what collaborations and negotiations take place, and how power hierarchy is manifested. I traced lines of thinking involved in the collective process of constructing the biennale, both in terms of artistic production within a defined conceptual framework, and in the curatorial realization of the project in creating a shared context and meaning. The main protagonist is a process, the articulation of an idea from linguistic to visual form in a collaborative trans-cultural context. This process is revealed through the transformation trajectory of ideas as manifested in collaborations, decision- making, and interpersonal relationships. It is presented through the prism of the artistic office team, led by curator Artur Zmijewski and associate curator Joanna Warsza, in a construct of multi-layered fragments evolving parallel to the Biennale.
Filmmaker: Anja Dziersk (Rise And Shine World Sales); Running time: 111′
Everyday Rebellion is a documentary and a crossmedia project celebrating the power of creative non-violent protest and civil disobedience around the globe. What does Occupy in New York have in common with the Spanish Indignados protests or the Arab Spring? Is there a connection between the struggle of the Iranian democracy movement and the non-violent uprising in Syria? And what is the link between the Ukrainian topless activists of Femen and an Islamic culture like Egypt? And to top it off, what do Serbia and Turkey have to do with all of this? The reasons for the various national uprisings in these countries may be diverse, but the creative non-violent tactics they use in their struggles are strongly connected with each other. So are the activists who share these strategies, new ideas, and established methods. The activists who use them believe that creative non-violent protest will win over violent protest – and they are right. It has been scientifically proven that non-violence is more effective and successful than violent protest. Furthermore, the users of non-violence are feared by the rulers. Everyday Rebellion is a tribute to the creativity of non-violent resistance. The project studies the consequences of a modern, rapidly changing society, where new forms of protest challenge the power of dictatorships and also global corporations are invented everyday. Everyday Rebellion wants to give a voice to all those who decide not to use violence when trying to change a violent system.
Saturday 2nd August: Collaborative Youth
Filmmaker: Diego Sarmiento (HDPERU); Running time: 15′
Jorge Tapullima is a kechwa-lamista community child. He lives in Chiriqyako, in the Peruvian Amazon. In the morning, Jorge has a habit of going to pick bananas for breakfast, cooked by his mother. Moreover, with his friends walk to his farm as they sing and play with the ‘pukuna’, instrument for hunting. Work on the land and return to play, as children they are. Jorge shows us her everyday in Chiriqyako.
Out of Focus
Filmmaker: Antonio Zirión (UAM-I); Running time: 36′
This documentary was shot in collaboration with young inmates in a series of photo and video workshops at the San Fernando Community for Juvenile Specialized Treatment, an old prison for minors in South Mexico City. «Out of focus» offers an observational insight on detention, youth, art, culture and daily life inside this institution, narrated by the own inmates.
Delhi at Eleven
Filmmakers: David MacDougall (Australian National University); Anshu Singh; Running time: 85′
This film presents the work of four young filmmakers of New Delhi. From March to May 2012 they took part in a video workshop at the CIE Experimental Basic School, a government primary school. Each of the filmmakers was eleven years old. Their films offer a special perspective on Indian family and working life. The workshop was coordinated by David MacDougall as part of the ‘Childhood and Modernity’ Project, supported by the Australian National University and the Australian Research Council. The four films included are: My Lovely General Store, Why Not a Girl?, My Funny Film, and Children at Home. The four directors, two girls and two boys, are all residents of north Delhi and attend the CIE Basic Experimental School, a government-funded primary school. At the time of filming they were all eleven years old. None had made a film before.
Silence of the Flies
Filmmaker: Eliezer Arias (Venezuela Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC)); Running time: 92′
There is no greater tragedy for any mother than the loss of her child. Against the majestic backdrop of the Venezuelan Andes, Marcelina and Mercedes recount the story of their daughters Nancy and Maria José. At the precarious age of 15, the two girls decided to end their lives. Director Eliezer Arias places their deaths in the broader perspective of rural communities where suicide is taking on epidemic proportions. It is the young men in particular who are drinking the pesticide Parathion to bring an end to a hopeless situation. A father of 13 children explains that only two of his five sons are still alive. Flies and suicide are everywhere, but no one talks about them. This fraught silence echoes through the design of the film. Those left behind stare into the lens, silent and immobile. Intercut with shots of the magnificent scenery and photographs of the deceased, the scenes from daily life combine to create a calm and associative sequence of images. In the accompanying voice-over, the two mothers reveal aspects of the drama that left such a devastating mark on their lives. The Silence of the Flies is an essay documentary that combines life stories, psychological autopsies, evocative objects and art.
Sunday 3rd August: Intimate Spaces
Common roads – pilgrimage and backpacking in the 21st century
Filmmaker: Tommi Mendel (Zurich University, Switzerland); Running time: 95′
Whereas the label of ‘pilgrim’ is still mostly associated with devout persons leaving home for purely religious motives, young people taking to the road as «backpackers» are generally perceived as pleasure seeking globetrotters. Questioning these stereotypes, anthropologist and filmmaker Tommi Mendel followed one young woman along the Way of St. James through France and Spain and another one along backpacking-routes through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Documenting their experiences and encounters over a period of three years, this film reveals intriguing parallels on various levels between what at first glance appear as two different ways of travelling. Common Roads is Tommi Mendel’s PhD-thesis accepted by the University of Zurich, it was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Filmmaker: J.P. Sniadecki (Cornell University); Running time: 65′
Set in the quasi-ghost town of Yumen that once thrived with oil production in China’s arid northwest, YUMEN is a haunting, fragmented tale of hungry souls, restless youth, a wandering artist and a lonely woman, all searching for human connection and a collective past among the town’s crumbling landscape. One part «ruin porn», one part ghost story, and shot entirely on 16mm, the film brings together narrative gesture, performance art, and socialist realism into a crude and radiant collage that not only plays with convention and defies genre, but also pays homage to a disappearing life-world and a fading medium.
Filmmaker: Sonja Blagojevic; Running time: 75′
Kosma is a documentary film about a rarely spoken matter in the usual coverage of Kosovo – everyday life omitted from news and politics. Life transformed into FM frequency sounds, observed by the radio ears capturing voices of those who are voiceless and non-existing in official media. From simple everyday life to fantastic sights of living tradition that spring out of the deepest and the most beautiful layers of time, space and human experience. KOSMA is a vivid fresco depicting clashes of the lyrical, epic and dramatic in a unique mixture of gloomy grayness and burning colors emerging from amazingly beautiful sights. For ten years now, the KOSMA radio network is the only link among highly isolated Serbian communities in Kosovo. The sound of the radio travels through deserted areas and abandoned houses, breaking down the barriers that their listeners themselves cannot surmount. A depiction of electricity and water cutoffs, fear, helicopters flying overhead, attacks and protests are woven into simple human stories, acts and aspirations. In this place laden with rich and vivid history and tradition, the radio voices bear witness to everyday life, human connections, significant events and ever-present hope.
Filmmaker: Stephanie Spray (Harvard University); Running time: 118′
High above a jungle in Nepal, pilgrims make an ancient journey by cable car to worship Manakamana. Directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez and produced by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel.
Special Screening: A Country Auction Revisited: Reflexing Musings about a Film
Milton R.A. Machuca and Jay Ruby
Location: A-543: Sun 3rd Aug, 11:00-
A screening of two ethnographic films:
A Country Auction: The Paul V. Leitzel Estate Sale
Reflexive Musings: A Country Auction Study Film
In 1983 three ethnographers and a documentary filmmaker collaboratively produced a film – A Country Auction: The Paul V. Leitzel Estate Sale that documented ethnographic research conducted on estate sales in a rural Pennsylvania community. It examined the personal, social and economic processes involved when a family dissolves their homestead. The film portrayed the auction process as integral to the social life of the community and as a method for a family and community to deal with the death of one of their members. Over the next 25 years, this film was screened in numerous film festivals, broadcast on U.S. public television, and reviewed in academic journals. The consensus among the filmmakers was that few people comprehended their intentions. In 2008 they decided to return to the community where A Country Auction was filmed and hold a 25th anniversary screening. In addition, the four filmmakers came together to engage in a prolonged critical discussion of the original film. This discussion became the basis for Reflexive Musings: A Country Auction Study Film, a unique reflexive exploration of the successes and failures of an ethnographic film.
Following the screening Jay Ruby, one of the co-producers of A Country Auction and Milton Machuca, director of Reflexive Musings will lead a discussion about these unique films and their relationship to the development of an anthropological cinema.