by Eda Elif Tibet
In a world of unbounded interconnections, our ethnographic film program of the season goes global and quite vocal. Yet, our unconcious selection of films tackling with serious matters listed on Celine's pink purple canvas* should not be received as much of a surprise. In a world of turmoil, conflict and constant violence, is it possible to look through pink glasses? Can we remain positive at all costs? As we sip our beers watching incredible life stories within our cinema, what is it that we are really doing? what is our purpose? are we getting ourselves entertained? What is Ethno kino really about? what is it that it should be about? what did we learn, and did not learn so far?
Ethno Kino therefore calls all of us to unlearn (In Gayatri Spivak's terms) everything we think we knew about the world and to leave aside our privileged positions for a few hours to witness real hardship and life struggles, to participate in the suffering and will power of the not so distanced "others".
From modern day slavery in Europe (A woman captured) to enslaved Vietnamese female factory workers (Nimble Fingers) of famous technology brands (that we all use and make our films with), to imprisoned female juveniles of Iran (Starless Dreams), to an ex-communist country man trying to rescue his dying business through a capitalist model (The Russian Job), to the only Western instrument being examined during the cultural revolution in China (The Accordion Class), to witness the life story of the most resilient in one of the most difficult countries in the world to live in that is Congo (Makala), to the story of the Nicobarese islanders- an ancient tribe, surviving a deadly tsunami but being hit by the destructive force of foreign humanitarian aid and a heartfelt scientists' dilemma (Aftermath: the second flood); makes us think and question the many facets and layers of human life in various parts of the world. Yet what they all have in common: despite all odds, is their agency. We see their immense strength and endurance amidst great hardship in this colonial world.
Our pre-program hosted and run by student films also mark a similar trajectory: from Western vegan families in search of ethical ways of living, to a displaced European indigenous communities' resettlement, religious ethnographic accounts of a South American community, to waiting in the refugee camps in Greece (Waiting) to a borderless world wish made by the unaccompanied minor asylum seekers in Turkey (A Borderless World).
The films make us realise that the patriarchal Capitalist forces crush and enslave mostly the women, yet we also see how anti-capitalist struggle is also led by feminist alliances, like ours. Hence Ethno Kino, as a decolonizing tool of anthropology through the space of the transformative kino, looks for reflexive and interpretive techniques together with radical innovations.
Particularly within the ongoing neo-colonial dynamics of today's economic, social and educational institutions, the professionals should be reminded to acknowledge their own partaking in producing and reproducing colonial realities, discourses and policy implications feeding the huge social gap and social justice we are seeing each year at our screenings.
The full potential of anthropology still to be realised, we agree with Stauder: this could only be made possible "as long as we could ally with the people we are meant to study...in their struggles to create a new world where science can truly serve the people and not be a tool for their opression" (1970). Hence Stauder's bold statement sheds light to our search and choice of films throughout "the visual anthropology and film festivals in the age of hybrid genres and post cinematographic and post-human creative tendencies" (Sasa Srekovic).
Our collective serves to what Renato Rosaldo calls; a re-making of cultural analysis, a re-working of anthropology of what Arturo Escobar talks about; an anthropology other/wise, by taking the subaltern, the indigenous, the indigenised, the minored, the marginalized seriously, we bring in the participatory ethic as the most democratising and de-colonial way of a humanities understanding and enactment, we quote Harrison (2016:6):
"to the extent where one truly recognise people's full humanity, that should also mean to recognize their wisdom, their intelligence, their capacity to produce forms of knowledge that include potentially powerful interpretations and explanatory account of the world, which give us the clues to then create strategies to change the world".
Following Homi Bhabha's recognition of the peoples whom can formulate critical and social theory both through courageous action and through thought, our understanding of anthropology calls to bring out the anthropologist in every one of us. Including the communities we are engaged with, to our friends, brothers and sisters else where in this world, be it migrants, refugees, slaves or masters.
Throughout the films we will be seeing how the protagonists both with the filmmakers build themselves up in the course of the films, we are ought to look for a moral tradition of our own: what Wilk calls out to become "rooted in natural truth and the natural human abilities in creatively expressing love" (1991:36).
This anthropological love to one's own kind, is what truly enabled us to move out from the traditional and institutionalised formal learning space into an unbounded, un-hierarchical liberating space for deeper learning, in the pursuit of transgressing hope, liberty and freedom for all.
We will then finally have an exciting workshop led by Dr. Simron Singh, the protagonist and scientist of Aftermath: the second flood, who will be with us in person all the way from Canada. Simron will be sharing his experiences while being filmed in the course of the events taking place with the tsunami hit Nicobarese. The discussions are of particular relevance for today's world, as half of the world population are displaced and are entrapped in refugee camps having to live in humanitarian dependencies, we will talk about dignity, self reliance and freedom. The role of transdisciplinary* engagements that go beyond disciplinary boundaries will bring the scientists, artists, filmmakers and storytellers of all kinds-in the kino, closer to each other.
Could there be a greater place then kino in der Reitschule to make this all happen.Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, for coming and filling our cinema full house each time and making this real. We are looking forward for another inspiring experience with you all, in search for a new kind of humanity and to a brighter common destiny for all, as we truly believe in the transformative aspects of watching under one roof together.
Please do share your thoughts, writing, film suggestions, film reviews with us, we would love to feature your wisdom and creativity.
* We thank a million to our talented team member Celine Arnold for designing this vividly beautiful and entruiging poster in behalf of our collective.
** Transdisciplinarity has been introduced by a Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget (born in Neuchatel) to signify a unity of knowledge beyond disciplines. A timely intervention to address the challenges of institutional limitations.
-Decolonising Anthropology: A conversation with Faye, V Harrison. Interview on May 2, 2016.
-Wilk, Stan (1991) Humanistic anthropology. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
-Stauder, J (1971) The functions of Functionalism. Paper presented in a meeting of the American Anthropological Association held in New York in November 1971.