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Essays on cinema, anthropology and documentary filmmaking

The looking machine calls for the redemption of documentary cinema, exploring the potential and promise of the genre at a time when it appears under increasing threat from reality television, historical re-enactments, designer packaging and corporate authorship. The book consists of a set of essays, each focused on a particular theme derived from the author’s own experience as a filmmaker. It provides a practice-based, critical perspective on the history of documentary, how films evoke space, time and physical sensations, questions of aesthetics, and the intellectual and emotional relationships between filmmakers and their subjects. It is especially concerned with the potential of film to broaden the base of human knowledge, distinct from its expression in written texts. Among its underlying concerns are the political and ethical implications of how films are actually made, and the constraints that may prevent filmmakers from honestly showing what they have seen. While defending the importance of the documentary idea, MacDougall urges us to consider how the form can become a ‘cinema of consciousness’ that more accurately represents the sensory and everyday aspects of human life. Building on his experience bridging anthropology and cinema, he argues that this means resisting the inherent ethnocentrism of both our own society and the societies we film.

David MacDougall

months later I wrote a three-page prospectus for a possible film about Doon School. It combined Sanjay’s and my interests and stated that it would ‘explore Doon School’s special ethos – its vision of a modern citizenry and nation-state, and its unique influence on Indian society’. At the same time it would focus on the ‘living experiences of boys at the school’. By this time Sanjay had received his PhD and I had completed my Sardinian film, which had appeared as part of the BBC Television series Fine Cut

in The art of the observer
Open Access (free)
How grave robbers, activists, and foreigners ended official silence about Stalin’s mass graves near Kiev
Karel C. Berkhoff

pre-war terror. (The BBC and Reuters reported the burial of ‘some 2,000’ and ‘1,998 Official silence about Stalin’s mass graves   73 bodies, 474 of which were Poles’.) Four years later, on 30 June 2011, the remains of 492 persons from fifteen other ‘Polish’ pits were exhumed and reburied. It seems that the investigators deemed the latter also victims from murders that took place in 1940, for Przewożnik’s successor Andrzej Kunert concluded in 2012 that from a total of 69 ‘Polish’ pits, the remains of ‘at least 1980 persons’ were found.79 But some Memorial activists

in Human remains and identification
David MacDougall

got there. Knowing the filmmaker’s track-record, the commissioning editor guaranteed a pre-sale and told him to go ahead. In most other situations filmmakers who approached a commissioning editor in this way would be expected to make a ‘pitch’ and be thought ridiculous if they didn’t. Today one may even have to submit an assembly of ‘found’ footage on the film’s proposed topic to give an impression of what it will be like. One notable deviation from these procedures was the BBC documentary

in The art of the observer
Corpse, bodypolitics and contestation in contemporary Guatemala
Ninna Nyberg Sørensen

as ‘crimes of passion’ but rather as carefully planned, staged and executed in struggles over territorial control. As in regular war, violence against women serves a highly symbolic purpose in the war on drug trafficking: it creates cohesion within armed groups, reaffirms masculinity and is a form of attacking ‘the enemy’s morale’ (Toledo 2011). The BBC documentary Killer’s Paradise, based on several of the cases mentioned above, was broadcast worldwide in May 2006.16 What shocked the world most was the matter-of-fact and trophy-like explanations given by the young

in Governing the dead
Open Access (free)
A war of extermination, grave looting, and culture wars in the American West
Tony Platt

impoverished families reminds me of the Armenian parents who sold their children before their deaths during the 1915–16 Turkish genocide. See Kévorkian, ‘Earth, fire, water’. A. L. Hurtado, Indian Survival on the California Frontier (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), p. 218. J. Hinde, ‘Invaluable resource or stolen property?’, Times Higher Education Supplement, 21 September 2007. ‘Dutch return head of Ghana king’, BBC News, 23 July 2009, http://news. (accessed 7 July 2014). M. Werry, ‘Moving objects (on the performance of the

in Human remains and identification
Work and legacy of F. G. Bailey
Stanley R. Barrett

dialect called ‘Scouse’, which eventually gave way to a standard BBC accent. As in the case of so many of his generation, the Second World War intervened. In 1943 he left Oxford to join the British Army, seeing action in France in 1944, and participating in the Allied Occupation of Germany in 1945. The following year he was back at Oxford. After graduating with an MA B.Litt. in

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
An aperture on ‘character’
Christopher Griffin

. Evans-Pritchard , E. E. 1951 . Social Anthropology , six BBC lectures (winter 1950), London : Cohen and West . Evans-Pritchard 1976 ( 1940 ) The Nuer . New York and Oxford : Oxford University Press . Favret-Saada , J. 1980 . Deadly Words, Witchcraft

in The anthropology of power, agency, and morality
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Evolution of a concept
David MacDougall

individuals every seven years, following the World in Action programme in which they first appeared in 1964 . Although none of these series involved an anthropologist, they suggested a possible model for ethnographic filmmaking, given enough time in the field. The project that probably came closest was Melissa Llewelyn-Davies’ five-part series for the BBC Diary of a Maasai Village ( 1984 ). One advantage of a narrative approach, which has a parallel in ethnographic oral histories (e.g. Oscar

in The art of the observer
Mark Doidge
Radosław Kossakowski
, and
Svenja Mintert

been accused of sectarianism through chants and pro-IRA banners (BBC, 2017). In contrast, the logo of Rangers’ Union Bears incorporates the Union Flag, rather than a Scottish flag. As with the chosen moniker, it denotes that the group see themselves as part of the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Ultras culture always adapts to local customs and traditions. History does not start anew when a new group emerges – they adapt and build on existing cultural practices. Conclusion Rather than detail a history of the ultras through their specific activities and

in Ultras