Importance Of Ethnographic Film

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The evolutional emergence of ethnographic film is believed to have begun with the foundation of documentary film. In 1922, filmmaker Robert Flaherty released the first documentary, Nanook of the North. This narrative documentary film essentially led to generic conventions that documentaries then developed over decades (Fisher 13 September), despite its portrayal of its subjects as spectacle. Soon, film had also found its way into the anthropological world. Anthropologist Margaret Mead and her partner Gregory Bateson applied the camera as a medium for scientific observation. The two took their ideas of filming and photographing culture to Bali, Indonesia as well as Papua New Guinea, creating a series of films and photographic studies in the 1950s. Mead came to be known as the pioneer of visual anthropology, being the first to use film as representation anthropologically. Although, ethnographic filming practices developed profoundly in the hands of filmmaker John Marshall who emerged as a self- reflexive, politicized filmmaker.
John Marshall’s filmic practice transpired in difference from the former versions of documentary film as that of spectacle or science in a way that utilized the two, yet
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Self criticized as romantic (Gonzales) and far from ethnographic, Marshall then continued his filmic practice heeding in an approach of self-reflexive awareness. His 1980 film N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman, is evidence of the contemporarily politicized John Marshall, using aspects of ethnographic foundations but attempting an ulterior filmic style of observation in order to give as much truth as possible. Thus, Marshall’s ability to portray the truth of what the film has given, rather than seeing the film as truth (Fisher 3 October), aided in this crafting of a more authentic account of

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