Tuesday, June 7 - SESSION 3:
Film archives as a visual thesaurus of culture and as a social record, cinema as a tool of national promotion …

Chaired by Darko Strajn
Educational Research Institute, Ljubljana

02.00 pm
Huia Kopua

New Zealand Film Archive, Wellington
Maori culture in New Zealand Film Archive
Senior NZFA (New Zealand Film Archive) staff member, Kaiwhakahaere - Ms Huia Kopua, will present fresh insights to the work and philosophy of the New Zealand Film Archive. This will include a screening of material from the early 1920s by Government sponsored ethnographic film-maker, James McDonald who was commissioned to record scenes of Maori life before it was completely altered by increasing contact with European culture. The presentation will address the significance of the McDonald films in the development of a system of government-sponsored documentary making. New Zealand was one of the first countries to seize upon the value of cinema as a tool of national promotion. Images of the Maori people were an essential aspect of representations of the country to the rest of the world – an element of a national brand.
Second, it will examine the accuracy and importance of the social record provided by the McDonald films for the descendents of those depicted and for a wider Maori audience. The Archive has presented these films alongside others in Maori communities in an effort to reconnect them with their subjects and in doing so has helped to deepen the relationships of contemporary Maori with their forebears. Finally, evaluation of the place of the McDonald films in particular, and the Maori collections in general in the development of the New Zealand Film Archive and its programmes. The commitment shown by the Archive to empowering Maori in the preservation and re-use of such material has produced significant dividends for both parties. Are there useful lessons for other archives responding to complex issues surrounding ethnographic films in their collections?

Magdalena Acosta
Cineteca Nacional, Mexico
"Indian Tribes of Unknown Mexico", a series of amateur ethnographic films by Harry Wright and Ed Myers
Presentation of excerpts of the series of ethnographic films called "Indian Tribes of Unknown Mexico", made in the late 30's by a team of amateur cinematographers, Ed Myers and Harry Wright, who resided in Mexico City. The latter was a very successful businessman in the Anglo-American community who traveled extensively throughout Mexico and edited and narrated these 16mm films to present at the exclusive Cinema Club of Mexico in the early 40's. The extraordinary color footage of different ethnic groups in the regions of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz is an invaluable record of everyday life, rituals, craftsmanship of these peoples who, at the time, lived in very poorly communicated regions and were completely marginalized from "modern" Mexican society. The accompanying narration is also very interesting, as it reflects the highly prejudiced, eurocentric viewpoint which was prevalent in some social and political circles at the time, but at the same time contrasts with the idealized image of the Indian presented in the art and cinema patronized and favored by the post-revolutionary Mexican government.
These films are part of the "Harry Wright Collection" at the Library of Congress, USA.

Kjell Billing
Norwegian Film Institute, Oslo
The use of Sami people and Sami culture in Norwegian fiction films
The Sami minority in Norway consist of approximately 0.5% of the population. They are different from the traditionally Norwegian people by origin, have a totally different culture, religion and language. They have been situated in the large area very far north in Norway for at least 2000 years and were gradually colonized by Norwegians in the 16th and 17th century.
As a consequence there have through the years been conflicts between the Sami people and the colonizers with their oppressors and missionaries. There has been (and to some extent still are) suspicion and dissatisfaction in both groups.
On this background, we shall look into the presentation of Sami people and culture in Norwegian feature films from the first one in 1922 THE GROWTH OF THE SOIL to BÀZO (2003). They have been treated differently through the times, from the either sly villains or noble savages in the first period, through the oppressed minority in the 70ties to the latest more surrealistic views.

Discussion, comments, questions.



03.00 pm

Other presentations by FIAF archives

Pierre Gamache
Library and Archives Canada
Canadian Arctic Expedition
The presentation of selected film footage of the first major scientific expedition of the Arctic, known as the Canadian Arctic Expedition, sponsored in part by the Canadian government; its members included scientists from various disciplines, cartographers, and explorers (including Vihjalmur Stefansson). The footage documents activities of the members of the expedition from 1913–1916, as well as observations about the people living on the land in the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. Although the expedition continued until 1918, the photographer, George Hubert Wilkins, left the Arctic in 1916.
The film footage is historically significant since it documents the exploration and mapping of uncharted Arctic lands and scientific knowledge. It is also ethnographically significant as it documents daily activities of the Inuit such as hunting, fishing, skinning, eating, mending clothing and equipment, etc. Other scenes document individuals (Inuit men, women, and children) and their garments. Although this footage is very representative of what one might expect from Canadian ethnographic film, it is unpublished, without intertitles, and contrasts considerably from the more "exploitative" newsreel in style and purpose. The footage may have been edited, but it nonetheless remains a true ethnographic representation of life and activity.

Francisco Gaytán Fernández
Filmoteca de la UNAM/Mexico
Non-Ethnographic Films seen from an Ethnographical point of View
Presentation of footage from the archive collection.

Eric Le Roy
Collections at the CNC in Bois d'Arcy
"Goémons", Yannick Bellon, France (1947)
Goémons occupe une place importante dans l'histoire du documentaire français. Tourné sans aucun moyen, en juillet-aout 1946 sur l'île de Béniguet (situé a la pointe de la Bretagne, dans l'archipel de Molene) par Yannick Bellon, fille de la photo-reporter Denise Bellon (1902–1999) et son opérateur André Dumaître, le film vit le jour grâce a l'aide de plusieurs amis qui preterent la pellicule et soutinrent son entreprise. Réalisé en décors réels, avec les seuls habitants de l'île (huit ouvriers, leur patron et sa femme), dans des conditions difficiles, Goémons s'inscrit dans un courant aux résonances humaines, sociales et politiques, qui a provoqué une polémique sur la représentation de la vie quotidienne en Bretagne, apres la guerre. Sa grandeur plastique, son désespoir, ses rapports aux corps et au travail ont fait l'admiration de Jean Rouch, Claude Lévy-Strauss et Henri Langlois. D'abord interdit a l'exportation par la Commission de contrôle des films, le film de Yannick Bellon (âgée de 22 ans lors du tournage) reçut ensuite son autorisation, apres avoir été récompensé par le Grand Prix international du Documentaire au Festival de Venise en 1948. Le négatif a brulé dans un laboratoire dans les années 80, mais le positif intermédiaire nitrate déposé aux Archives françaises du film a permit la restauration du film en 2000, avec la collaboration de Yannick Bellon.

Discussion, comments, questions and conclusion of the symposium.

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