Fourth International Anthropology Film Festival: Program

The Ethnographic Film Unit in collaboration with the Museum of Anthropology hosts the 4th International Festival of Anthropology Films. Of the 50+ films submited, the follow films are featured in our Main Stage screening and Featured Film programme.

Admission to the Friday night gala is $10.00. Admission to the Saturday program is included in the MOA entrance fee (no charge to UBC students, staff, or faculty).

Contact us at cmenzies[at] to purchase tickets for the Gala.

Friday, April 30. Gala

6:30 pm. Film Unit Student Films.

8:00 pm. Festival Prize Winner: Transfiction.

filmimage UK/Sweden, 57 mins, 2007. Director: Johannes Sjöberg. Transfiction has been shot as part of a practice-based PhD in Drama and Visual Anthropology, and explores ethnofiction, an experimental ethnographic film style created by Jean Rouch, in which the participants collaborate with the filmmaker to act out their own and others' life experiences in improvisations. The film focuses on identity and discrimination in the daily lives of trans-gendered Brazilians living in São Paulo. Fabia Mirassos projects her life through the role of Meg, a transsexual hairdresser confronting intolerance and re-living memories of abuse. Savana Bibi Meirelles plays Zilda who makes her living as one of the many transgendered sex workers in São Paulo, as she struggles to find her way out of prostitution.

Saturday, May 1. Main Stage Screening

10:10 am. Memories for Sale

film image Mexico/UK, 24 mins, 2009. Director: Carolina Corral Paredes. Doña Rosa is an indigenous old woman who sells crafts in the market. Carlos is an enthusiastic tour guide who offers tours into indigenous people’s houses and families, including Paola’s. Their live’s work is to provide what a group of inquisitive tourists -and a filmmaker- might be looking for in an indigenous and picturesque region in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas

10:45 am. Without Land, We Are Not Shuar.

film image UK, 23 mins, 2009. Director: Stacey Williams. Land and culture among the Shuar Indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon are intimately linked to one another. This film takes is located in the most southeast corner of Ecuador in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, famous for its gold mining industry. Mining developments in this area can be traced back to Spanish colonization, having forever changed the topographical landscape of Shuar territory. Currently, foreign mining companies, mostly Canadian owned, exploit the area in search of gold that is to be exported out of Ecuador. What happens then to Shuar community, relationships, culture and traditions when foreign mining interests enter the picture?  This film looks at two Shuar communities - a protected area and a mining area - by comparing and contrasting these communities we gain insight into the current  issues faced by the Shuar people. The story of Nunqui in the film, the Shuar mother earth figure, illustrates the nature vs. culture dichotomy and ultimately questions what a future without nature means for Shuar culture and identity.

11:15 am. Second Runner-Up. Towns Without Roads

film image Spain, 44 mins, 2009. Director: Jorge Tsabutzoglu. Aineto, Ibort and Artosilla are three towns of the Pre-Pyrenees mountains that were abandoned in the 50s due to mass-migration to the city. 30 years later, derelict and ruined, they were repopulated by a group of youngsters looking for an alternative way of life, more natural and simple. This was the birth of Artiborain Association, which has become the main representative in Spain of the so-called movement ecoaldeas: eco-friendly villages. Fernando, a man from Zaragoza at the verge of retirement, travels there to meet Jesús, a resident of Artosilla, with the firm intention of moving to one of the three villages. Jesús, with the help of other residents, will guide Fernando in the process of his settlement and adaptation to a new way of life.

12:15 pm. Second Runner-Up. Behind the Waterfront.

film image Germany/Mexico, 46 minutes, 2010. Director: Amelie von Marschalck. Cuba 2007, during many years the country has seen waves of Cubans migrating to other countries. Particularly in Havana many young people are eagerly waiting for a chance to get to know the world beyond the island. Travelling and migrating are synonyms to them. Through their contact with tourists, who constantly confront them with their aspirations to travel, their longing to break out of the island’s monotony and difficult living conditions becomes more intense. In the film young adults from Havana provide insights into their daily lives and the problems they face, caught in between the ruins and historic icons of the Caribbean Surrealism which still seems to take place in a sphere outside of the globalized world.

1:15 pm. Faces of the Frontier

film image Austria/Brazil, 71 mins, 2009. Directors: Thomas Marschall, Nikolaus Braunshör The State of Mato Grosso (“the luxuriant forest”) is Brazil’s biggest exporter of agricultural produce. Main products exported are soy for rearing livestock and cotton for the clothing industry. Big landowners in possession of large areas of land and agro-companies lay claim to progress and the future. In the service of an agro-industry now supplying world markets, they are slowly eradicating every other form of work and production in the region. Settlers, smallholders and squatters are nonetheless defying the laws of the market in an attempt to retain land and economic independence. Between these two fronts, bewildered by the consequences of the “white man’s” economic policy stands Brazil’s indigenous population. Forced into reservations or driven from their land, these people have become mute witnesses to the destruction of their home and culture. Global capitalism is making unstoppable inroads into what was not long ago Brazil’s Virgin hinterland. The rule of law is still far away from here. In this part of Brazil club law prevails and many who dream of land and a home pay for it with their lives.

2:30 pm. Delhi Bound for Work.

film image India/Canada, 57 mins, 2009 Director: Reena Kukreja. Each year, thousands of young women migrate from poverty stricken villages of Eastern India to seek employment as live-in domestic workers in urban centres within India. Produced at the request of Pratima, a domestic worker, who worked as Assistant Cameraperson for it, Delhi Bound For Work offers an intimate look at the lives of migrating women as they try to negotiate working in the city whilst providing for families back home. What compels these women, some as young as 14, to search for work far from their families and communities? Who are the various players involved in their migration and trafficking and what do they stand to gain? How are these women treated by placement agencies and employers? Does earning an income change their status within the family? What happens when the women desire to return back home and how are they treated by their community? The film seeks to find answers to these questions and unravel the complex nature of their migration, exploitation and trafficking.

3:40 pm. Being Meera Malik.

film image Spain, 17 mins, 2009. Director: Marcos Borregón. Meera is a girl from a depressed area from Pilhana, Kolkata. There she lives with her family. Poorness, unemployment, violence, and rubbish everywhere are her neighbours. But the most beautiful flowers grow up in the rubbish and she finds hope everyday going to Tara School. Director's Note: Those who make documentaries, dream with reality manifesting when we have ready the camera, lighting, sound… so we can perfectly catch the moment. We also dream with founding the right characters who will confess their lives in that brilliant way as we had thought at home. Reality ready just waiting for our camera. It’s not that way, It’s actually about waiting and waiting for what may or not may happen.

4:00 pm. First Runner-Up. Poto Mitan: Haitian Women and the Global Economy.

film image US/Haiti, 50 min, 2009. Directors: Renée Bergan, Mark Schuller. Told through the lives of five courageous Haitian women workers, Poto Mitan gives the global economy a human face.  Each woman’s personal story explains, how neoliberal globalization is gendered and how it impacts Haiti. And while the documentary offers in-depth understanding of Haiti, its focus on women’s subjugation, worker exploitation, poverty, and resistance demonstrates these are global struggles.

Featured Films

Caught Between Darkness and Light.

Britain/Italy, 16 mins, 2008. Director: Alexandra D'Onofrio. This video is an experimentation with sound recordings and still images, that come and go between moments of darkness. It is conceived as a collaborative audio-visual project with a group of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing to the UK. The recordings and images were taken during their illegal journey while crossing the borders between Italy, Switzerland and France, and during their stay in Calais while attempting to cross the Channel. One of the main objectives of this piece was to give an alternative representation of refugee experiences of flight to those offered by most official media. The metaphor of migration as a journey from darkness of light was often expressed by many, as it signified what was left behind and the re-birth in to the new life awaiting them.

Men of Words

Denmark/UK, 22 mins, 2009. Director: Johanne Haaber Ihle. This film explores how an ancient tradition of exchanging poetry on the Arabian peninsula is still used as a means to discuss social and political issues in Yemen. The film is structured around a qat chewing session in the southern highland, where poetry is said aloud and issues such as missing rain and internal political problems are discussed. Through the poems the viewer gains insight into living conditions in both rural and urban areas and into the social role of words and the meaning they carry in Yemen today.

Returned: Child Soliders in Nepal

film image USA/Nepal, 30 min, 2008. Director: Robert Koenig. RETURNED: Child Soldiers of Nepal’s Maoist Army tells the personal story of Nepali boys and girls as they attempt to rebuild their lives after fighting a Maoist revolution. Through the voices of former child soldiers, the film examines why these children joined the Maoists and explores the prevention of future recruitment. With the major conflict ended and the Maoists in control of the government, these children are now forced to return home to communities and families that want nothing to do with them. For many of the children of Nepal’s Maoist Army, the return home can be even more painful than the experience of war.

When Medicine Got it Wrong

film image USA, 53 min, 2009. Directors: Katie Cadigan and Laura Murray. In 1974 a small group of parents became the first in the nation to publicly refuse blame for causing their children to have schizophrenia. They formed Parents of Adult Schizophrenics and their activism led to parents around the nation demanding changes in how the disease is understood and treated. Parents of Adult Schizophrenics waged their battles in an era when mental hospitals were shutting down and the most severely ill patients were turned over to the promise of community care. Yet that community care rarely materialized. When Medicine Got it Wrong shows how these families launched one of the fastest growing grassroots movements the nation had seen to date, ushering in an era of dramatic advances in understanding, treatment and brain research.














Festival Poster

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Ethnographic Film Unit
Dept of Anthropology, UBC
6303 NW Marine Drive Vancouver BC V6T 1Z1 604-822-0337