Fifth International Anthropology Film Festival: Program

The Ethnographic Film Unit in collaboration with the University Neighbourhoods Association and the Museum of Anthropology hosts the 5th International Festival of Anthropology Films. Of the 50+ films submitted, the following films are part of our Main Stage screening and Featured Film programme.

Admission to the Saturday gala is included in the MOA entrance fee (no charge to UBC students, staff, or faculty). Sunday Main Screen Events are free of charge and take place at the Old Barn Community Centre of the UNA (in Hawthorn Place - midcampus)

Contact us at charles.menzies[at] for free admission to the Saturday Gala Opening.

Saturday, April 30. Gala. @ MOA

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm Film Unit Student Films and Festival Grand Prize Winner.

Bread and baking, corner stores, improv, and migrant diasporas feature in this year's student film productions. Come view these short films on slices of Canadian life and meet the student filmmakers who produced the films. Also playing, the festival grand prize winning film, Indians Like Us (see below for details). Reception to follow in the MOA Cafe.

Festival Prize Winner. Indians Like Us.

filmimage France, 54 mins, 2010. Director: Sylvie Jacquemin. A group of French people share a passion for everything Native American: every week-end they dress up as Native Americans to entertain at small village fairs in France. But their big dream is to travel to the United States and meet some real Native Americans . When they finally manage to go for a 2 week-drive across the Midwest, they discover the reality of contemporary Native Americans is quite different from their idealized vision: poverty, continued loss of land, and worse, a disturbingly active discrimination by the white descendants of the settlers.

Film Unit Student Film: Balikbayan.

film image Dada Docot, Daniel Smart, Almira Walde. Since the 1970s, about ten million Filipinos have spread to over 200 countries and territories as overseas workers. This film is about the Filipino migrants' custom of sending Balikbayan (homecoming) Boxes – parcels filled with gifts –  to their families in the Philippines. The documentary offers a glimpse into life in migration, particularly into the stories of three Filipinos who have found themselves settled in Metro Vancouver – home to over 90,000 Filipinos – and who remain closely connected to home as evident in their gift-giving practices.

Film Unit Student Film: Letting Go.

film image Andrew Christoffel, Klaha Manhal, Rachel Roy. This film explores the creative processes underlying improvisation. Letting Go highlights the significant roles that trust, acceptance, and generosity play in community building.  Team members of “UBCimprov” share their insights on the art of improvisation, reflecting on how the practice influences their lives and relationships with others.  Letting Go reveals how inhibitions are overcome and intimate communal moments are shared.  UBC improviser's continual community rapport creates strong stage synergy in which spontaneity is embraced with open arms.

Film Unit Student Film: The Union.

film image Marina Morena, Derek Walter. Watch the everyday activities of a family run store and cafe in the neighbourhood of Strathcona. The store is a combination of the long time Portuguese owners, Anibal and Gloria, their son David, long term staff and bakers, and the lively flow of customers that frequent it. The store provides people with everyday needs, from a variety of groceries to specialty Portuguese baked goods and fresh coffee. This film shows the role of a small business in bringing a small town feel to a place within the City of Vancouver.

Film Unit Student Film: Bread & Baking.

film image Steven Breckon, Mascha Gugganig, Jacob Slosberg. What role does bread play in our contemporary lives? Is it a commodity, a living thing we create, or both? In recent years our community has become increasingly aware of food security issues, however bread production is often absent from the conversation. For many, the act of baking bread remains foreign. In this film we follow bakers in a small-scale artisan bakery and a young couple who have taken to bake all their own bread, despite their busy professional schedules. Come explore the process and motivation of those who bake, in our community.

Sunday, May 1. Main Stage Screening. @ Old Barn Community Centre.

10:10 am. Premiere: Small Nets in a Sea of Change.

film image Canada, 24 mins, 2011. Director: Charles Menzies and Rachel Donkersloot. Working in collaboration with local small-scale salmon and lobster fishermen in the north west of Ireland this film documents the vitality and history of local fisheries. Rapid industrialization of fisheries in nearby Killybegs has had powerful positive and negative impacts on the traditional fisheries.

11:00 am. In Loving Memory.

film image UK, 21 mins, 2010. Director: Kyna Gourley. This film explores the role of memorial cards in Irish Catholic remembrance practices. Filmed in both Ireland and the UK, it documents intimate responses to death and memory, and to lost love.

11:25 am. Jury Prize: Second Runner-up. A Japanese Funeral.

film image USA, 14 mins, 2010. Director: Karen Nakamura.A young man dies unexpectedly at the age of 39. Over the next three days, we witness Japanese funeral rites with a twist - the man and his family are Christian.

11:50 am. Guests of Space.

film image Spain, USA, Mexico, 26 minutes, 2010. Director: Alba Mora.Guests of Space explores the first encounter between the Nukak Maku people and the white man in 1988. “We were very afraid of the white men because we thought that they were cannibals,” says Kirari, the tribe’s oldest man. Known as the last nomads to be contacted in South America, the Nukak Maku have lived a nomadic existence in the tropical forests of Southern Colombia for centuries. But today the Amazon lands that sustain the tribe are being overrun by Colombia’s drug war and the Nukak have been forced to relocate outside their territory. This film observes the collision of two alien worlds where settlers, missionaries, armed groups and Colombia’s drug war unexpectedly meet and confront.

12:30. Lunch Break.

1:00 pm. Jury Prize: First Runner-up. Voice Unknown.

film image USA, 32 mins, 2010. Director: Jinhee Park. Faith Kim (alias) is a North Korean refugee living in Syracuse, N.Y. This film represents the courageous choices she made during her escape from North Korea as well as her experiences of loss, displacement, and hope. As Voice Unknown is the first film about a North Korean refugee in the US, this film tells stories that have not previously been heard. The voice of one women's personal and emotional journey from North Korea to the US through China, Cambodia and Thailand will lead the viewers to reflect on experiences of exile through generations and will spark discussions about contemporary migration and borderless identities. North Korean refugees are unable to make their voices heard because they have to hide their identity to protect their remaining family in NOrth Korea. Making this film was a challenge and the narrative depicts a unique aesthetic to represent a person whose face cannot be shown.

1:40 pm. The Strangers of the Inca Trail.

film image USA, 32 mins, 2010 Director: Jamie Schreiber. This film follows a group of trekkers from all over the world, strangers who become a fleeting community during the four day trek through rugged, high altitude, mountain terrain. It is a post-modern narrative about transcultural communitas, global tourism, and the nature of documentary film-making.

2:20 pm. Men at Work.

film image UK/Austria, 32 mins, 2010. Director: Christine Moderbacher. Men at work depicts the daily working life of one of the few remaining institutions in Austria that still employs only men. They are responsible for a 39 km stretch of Austria's biggest highway and transit route, the A1. Inspired by the poem of a road worker, the film explores masculinity, danger and camaraderie between 35 men.

3:00 pm. Cowboys: Rebels of the Vogtland.

film image USA, 28 min, 2010. Director: Eric O'Connell. Filmmaker and Visual Anthropologist, Eric O'Connell, explores a subculture of cowboys in the former East Germany. These people have adopted and adapted the lifestyle of the American Western Cowboy. Developing behind The Wall, cowboy represents ideas of freedom and individualism. Emerging from the shadows of Communism in 1989, Cowboy takes on a new face, representing for the East Germans many of the good things from Communism like helping one's neighbor, and the simple pleasures of a non-materialist country life represented in values of family, attachment to the land, and to animals. Atmospheric, observational and ethnographic, the story is told as much in images as in the skillful intertwining of varied interviews. Characters who have made a living under both that of communism and now capitalism reveal, in a visually rich film, why the cowboy thing is so symbolic for people of the former East. A short film (10-min. Cowboys: East Germany, The Americans) was made prior, asking American cowboys: Who can be a cowboy? And, What is Cowboy? Using video taken from a screening of this film with the Germans as meta-commentary, the Germans seem to respond to the Americans.

3:40 pm. BLOOD - an observational documentary.

film image USA/Thailand, 20 min, 2010. Director: Ryan White. On March 16, 2010, prior to violent clashes in Bangkok that left at least 91 dead, countless injured, and the city in flames, Thailand's red-shirt political party staged a controversial protest of blood to put a supernatural curse on the country's current government. Focusing on the events of this gruesome day. BLOOD unveils extensive recordings of protest songs, poems, chants, speeches, curses, marches and actions. Constructed entirely from observed material, BLOOD examines both the culture of the protest and the media frenzy surrounding the event, and in doing so reflects on issues of propaganda, social inequality, and exploitation.

4:00 pm. Jury Prize: Third Runner-up. Bastards of Utopia.

film image USA, 54 min, 2010. Director: Maple Razsa. As children, they lived through the collapse of Yugoslavia. But now, amid the aftershocks of socialism's failure, they fight in their own way for a new leftism. Whether clashing with police or squatting in an old factory, these activists risk everything to live their politics. In the middle of it all, an American who came to observe the movement finds himself participating and even goes to jail with them. As the setbacks mount will they give up their fight? The film, shot during years of fieldwork with a Croatian anarchist collective, applies EnMasseFilm's unique blend of observation, direct participation and critical reflection to this misunderstood political movement. Its portrayal of activism is both empathetic and unflinching - an engaged, elegant meditation on the struggle to re-imagine leftist politics and the power of a country's youth.

Featured Films

[S + P2]

film image UK, 30 mins, 2010. Director: Yasmin Samir-Shakir. The Forest is a non-profit autonomous arts-and-events organization situated in the heart of Edinburgh. It is the social hub for the city's DIY (do-it-yourself) community, where people can produce, present, perform, and consume art for free - a truly unique venture in a town centre where everything comes at a price. [S + P2] follows a handfull of The Forest's volunteers in the run up to the organization's Forest x Banquet, an event being held in celebration of its tenth anniversary. Exploring the internal and external pressures faced by The Forest in its attempts to operate outside the norm, the film ultimately invokes the question: what does it mean to be free?

Celebrating Semana Santa.

film image USA, 42 mins, 2010. Director: Sam Pack. This film documents a religous ceremony held at a remote village in rural Hondoras during the Semana Santa (Holly Week of Easter). The ritual drama enacted in this ceremony resonates with a remarkable persistence of indigenous belifs phrased within a Catholic idiom. For this very reason, some members of the Catholic clergy are inveighing against this overt display of indigenous celebration. Conflict between the various factions remains high, and there is a lingering threat that the performance will not retain its vibrancy or even exist ten years from now.

Law and War in Rural Kenya.

film image UK, 65 min, 2010. Director: Suzette Heald.In 1998, a new movement swept through Kuria, in S.W. Kenya with dramatic effect. Cattle raiding fuelled by the increasing presence if guns had led to a situation of total insecurity, with all in fear of the thieves. In April of that year, a group of men in just one location, Bukira East, effected a new organization merging ideas from the Tanzanian vigilante movement, sungusungu, with their own indigenous assembly, the iritongo. Within a year the movement had spread throughout Kuria and the District as a whole was at peace. This film revisits the iritongo movement ten years later. In telling the story of its origin, and its current operation, it reveals a broad contrast between the areas where the iritongo still operates, through with some difficulty, and those where it has faltered and died. In these latter areas there has been a revival of clan raiding and warfare.

The Lover and the Beloved.

film image UK, 75 min, 2010. Director: Andy Lawrence. A film about one man's journey accross northern India and his search for enlightenment. Rajive McMullen, a history teacher suffering from a debilitating illness, makes the painful journey into the heart of Tantra, searching for meaning in holy shrines, coming close to death in cremation grounds and enjoying the chaos of the Aghori seekers.

The Way to Sundance.

film image Swiss, 59 min, 2010. Directors: Miguel Bechet and Ursina Maurer. This spiritual community that has settled down on a remote farm in the Jura mountains in Switzerland is quite different from other communities. It is run by a married couple recognised as the leaders by 14 the members, who joined the community on their spiritual quest or in search of healing. The leaders and the members originally come from Holland but they chose Switzerland to live their belief – a belief that is based on the tradition of the Native American Lakota. In the hope to gain a balance in their lives the members commit themselves to hard work, great discipline and daily prayers. Throughout the year they celebrate different ceremonies like the Women's Dance, the Vision Quest and weekly sweatlodges. But for some members the most important moment of the year is the Sundance ceremony in Texas, in which they dance for four days in the burning heat without drinking and eating.

Tteok jip.

film image USA, 16 min, 2010. Director: Samuel Yum. This short is a meditation on the aesthetics of labour in a Korean tteok jip (rice cake factory) in Washington State, as well as an exercise in minimal post-production intervention. While ostensibly a film about the manufacture of rice cakes, it isn't a story about process or local industry. It is instead a visual exploration of the sensory environment of a specific multiethnic, multilingual work space. No narration or explanatory titles accompany this footage. Visual and sound images are only sparingly edited to translate an ethos and effect a sense of presence in the field.














Festival Poster

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