Robert Gardner was the Director of the Film Study Center at Harvard University from 1957 to 1997. He is known for his work in the field of non-fiction film.
He is an internationally renowned filmmaker and author whose works have entered the permanent canon of non-fiction filmmaking. Some of his most prominent films include Dead Birds (1963), a lyric account of the Dugum Dani, a Stone Age society at one time living an isolated existence in the Highlands of the former Netherlands New Guinea (Gardner was the leader of the Peabody Museum-sponsored expedition to study the Dani in 1961-62); Rivers of Sand (1974), a social commentary on the Hamar people of southwestern Ethiopia; and Forest of Bliss (1985), a cinematic essay on the ancient city of Benares, India, which explores the ceremonies, rituals, and industries associated with death and regeneration.
Gardner’s films have received numerous awards, including the Robert J. Flaherty Award for best nonfiction film (twice); the Golden Lion for Best Film at the Florence Film Festival (three times); and First Prizes at the Trento, USA Dallas, Melbourne, Nuoro, EarthWatch, Athens, and San Francisco film festivals. His films have been invited to Festivals throughout the world including Jerusalem, Bergen, London, Munich, Toronto, Montreal, Margaret Mead, Marseilles, Locarno, Chicago and Cinema du Réel.
Robert Gardner is the author of A Human Document (1965); and Gardens of War (1968). His book, Making Forest of Bliss (2002), is the outcome of a close watching of the film with his collaborator, Ákos Östör. In 2006 Gardner published his book entitled The Impulse to Preserve: Reflections of a Filmmaker and his latest book, Making Dead Birds: Chronicle of a Film, was published November, 2007. He is also the subject of three books, Rituale von Leben und Tod: Robert Gardner und seine Filme (1989); Gardner, by Harry Tomicek (1991); and Natural Rhythms: The Indigenous World of Robert Gardner, by Thomas Cooper (1996).
In the 1970s Gardner produced and hosted Screening Room, a series of more than one hundred 90-minute programs on independent and experimental filmmaking. The series, considered an invaluable historical record of modern cinema, has been transferred to digital format, for archival preservation by the Museum of Film and Broadcasting in New York City.
Robert Gardner received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Harvard University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
John Melville Bishop is a prolific independent filmmaker working in anthropology and folklore known for the craftsmanship of his photography and editing and the breadth and richness of his collaborations. In addition to producing his own films, he has worked as a free-lance cameraman, editor, archivist, and writer in Africa, the Himalayas, the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and most of the United States.
His films include The Land Where the Blues Began (1978) with Alan Lomax and Worth Long, New England Fiddles (1984) and New England Dance (1990) with Nicholas Hawes, The Last Window (1989), A Place for Jazz (1992) with Richard Broadman, Khmer Court Dance (1992) and Cambodian Court Dance: the Next Generation (2001) with Sam Ang Sam, Himalayan Herders (1997) with Naomi Hawes Bishop, Hosay Trinidad (1998) with Frank Koram, Oh What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me! Edmund Carpenter (2002) with Harald Prins, Seasons of Migration (2006) with Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, Oss Tales (2007) with Sabina Magliocco, and In The Wilderness of a Troubled Genre (2012).
In the 1980s he managed the accession of John Marshall’s Kalahari footage for the Human Studies Film Archives at the Smithsonian, and in 1989 shot parts of A Kalahari Family. In 1994 he produced and edited a revised edition of the 26-part anthropology telecourse, Faces of Culture. After teaching 12 years in the Department of World Arts and Culture at the University of California Los Angeles, he retired to Portland, OR where he has continued making films. Most recently he has videotaped 100 on-location oral histories of the Civil Rights Movement for the Library of Congress and the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. And is working on films about the Big Drum Nation dance of Carriacou with Anna Wood and the stories of Rastafarian elders with Jake Homiak.