Film as Ethnography Workshop

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

This roundtable discussion considers documentary filmmaking as a form of ethnographic observation and fieldwork uncannily close, but also different, from the more traditional format of academic article production. How does bringing a camera to the field influence the process of conducting interviews and observing people in their daily life? Does the world appear differently from behind the camera lens? Can a camera witness and capture things the naked eye cannot record? Conversely, are there certain truths below the radar of perception which are intuited and felt and would otherwise be invisible in the cinematic image? Does one select a method on the basis of potential audience, format, and circulation? Our presenters will discuss the logic behind their own methodological choices and their experiences of taking a camera to the field.

Our three panel presenters are: documentary filmmaker and painter Gu Tao (his documentaries include, The Last Moose of Aoluguya); anthropologist and documentary filmmaker Natasha Fijn (director of Khanggai Herds: an observational film in nine parts, author of Living with Herds: Human-Animal Coexistence in Mongolia); and, sociologist and documentary filmmaker Ivan Franceschini (co-director of Dreamwork China and author of several books, articles, and chapters in Italian and English ). Each participant will speak for 15-20 minutes and show clips from their films. The remaining 45 minutes will be open for public discussion.

This event is hosted by the Australian Centre on China in the World and ANU Mongolia Institute.