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Kate Hennessy


November 1, 2014

SVA Film and Media Festival – Special Events and Screenings

November 1, 2014 | By | No Comments

The SVA Film and Media Festival, with the generous support of the 2014 Executive Program Chairs, is excited to announce three special events and film screenings during this year’s AAA Annual Meetings in DC!

We are really pleased to bring critically acclaimed filmmakers Trinh T. Minh-ha and Joshua Oppenheimer to DC for exclusive screenings and discussions. Additionally, in line with our commitment to help promote ethnographic filmmaking and visual research, we have organized a roundtable discussion on how to distribute and promote ethnographic films.

Thursday, December 4, 2014
11:00-12:45, Marriott Wardman Park (Coolidge Room)
Ethnographic Film Production and Distribution: Current Practices and Possibilities

A Roundtable Discussion featuring Karen Nakamura (Yale), Alice Apley (DER), and Cindy Wong (CUNY), moderated by Harjant Gill (Towson University)

As the number of submissions to the SVA Film and Media Festival steadily increases every year, it is clear that the production of ethnographic film (considered in multiplicity of forms, from short to feature length films, multimedia and online projects) remains an important practice for many anthropologists. The rapid changes in digital media production and distribution possibilities, however, means that ethnographic filmmakers are afforded greater opportunities and challenges in terms of funding, producing, and distributing their works. This special panel will feature filmmakers, practitioners and scholars engaged in various aspects of media production and distribution. Speakers will include media studies scholar Cindy Wong, who has researched and published extensively on film festival networks and distribution; anthropologist and filmmaker Karen Nakamura whose most recent ethnographic monograph was published with two corresponding films on DVD as a part of the book; and Alice Apley, the current executive director of DER Documentary Educational Resources (DER).

4:30-7:30, Marriott Wardman Park (Marriott Ballroom Salon 2)
The Act of Killing (2012) and Ethnographic Film: Screening and Discussion with Director Joshua Oppenheimer

Nominated in the “Best Documentary” category for the 2013 Academy Awards, The Act of Killing (2012) has generated extensive debate across a multiple fields for its troubling subject matter, uncanny approach, and uncomfortable conclusions about memory, filmmaking, as well as the human capacity for empathy. This special event will feature a screening of the film followed by a Q&A session with the director, Joshua Oppenheimer, who will also be participating in a regular meeting session on “Ethnographic Tactics.” Oppenheimer’s film poses unique questions and challenges to anthropologists, including the role and function of fiction in ethnographic and documentary productions (whether textual or visual), approaches to understanding memory and traumatic experience, and the critical distances (or closeness) between engagement and collaboration. The film itself has generated much praise and criticism since its release, particularly regarding reenactment as a mode of reflection and response in documentary film, and this special screening and Q&A will bring some of these debates into consideration within the context of anthropological concerns on the complicated nexus of fiction, reality, and representation. The Q&A session will be facilitated by S. Eben Kirksey.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

12:00-3:00, Marriott Wardman Park (Coolidge)
Feminist Perspectives on Ethnography and Film, 25 Years after Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989): Screening and Discussion with Filmmaker Trinh T. Minh-ha

In honor of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Trinh T. Minh-ha’s critically acclaimed film, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, this special event featuring the director will explore the impact and challenges of her work and feminist perspectives more broadly on ethnographic filmmaking and visual analysis in anthropological research. Structurally and aesthetically, since its release in 1989, Surname Viet Given Name Nam has occupied as central place in reconceptualizations of cultural “otherness,” gendered histories, and the critical possibilities of visual representations of experienced realities. Nevertheless, specifically feminist perspectives remain under-explored in conversations on both ethnographic filmmaking as well as the theoretical challenges of ethnography in a filmic mode. What has ethnographic film learned from the film? What has or has not changed in the past twenty-five years? This discussion with director Trinh T. Minh-ha will focus on both how the lasting influence of the film on concepts of ethnographic film, as well as the ongoing significance of acknowledging, unearthing, and facilitating feminist perspectives through ethnographic filmmaking practices. A screening of the film (108 minutes) will precede the discussion. The session will be facilitated by Jenny Chio.

Photo credit: Still from Surname Viet Given Name Nam, courtesy of Women Make Movies,

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