The Info List - Ethnofiction

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Ethnofiction is a neologism which refers to an ethnographic docufiction, a blend of documentary and fictional film in the area of visual anthropology. It is a film type in which, by means of fictional narrative or creative imagination, often improvising, the portrayed characters (natives) play their own roles as members of an ethnic or social group. Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
is considered to be the father of ethnofiction.[1] An ethnologist, he discovered that a filmmaker interferes with the event he registers. His camera is never a candid camera.[2] The behavior of the portrayed individuals, the natives, will be affected by its presence. Contrary to the principles of Marcel Griaule,[3][4][5][6] his mentor, for Rouch a non-participating camera registering “pure” events in ethnographic research (like filming a ritual without interfering with it) is a pre-concept denied by practice.[7][8][9][10][11] An ethnographer cameraperson, in this view, will be accepted as a natural partner by the actors who play their roles. The cameraperson will be one of them, and may even be possessed by the rhythm of dancers during a ritual celebration and induced in a state of cine-trance.[12][13] Going further than his predecessors, Jean Rouch introduces the actor as a tool in research. A new genre was born.[14] Robert Flaherty, a main reference for Rouch, may be seen as the grandfather of this genre, although he was a pure documentary maker and not an ethnographer. Being mainly used to refer to ethnographic films as an object of visual anthropology, the term ethnofiction is as well adequate to refer to experimental documentaries preceding and following Rouch’s oeuvre and to any fictional creation in human communication, arts or literature, having an ethnographical or social background.


1 History 2 Chronology

2.1 1920s 2.2 1930s 2.3 1940s 2.4 1950s 2.5 1960s 2.6 1970s 2.7 1980s 2.8 Recent

3 Footnotes 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links

History[edit] Parallel to those of Flaherty or Rouch, ethnic portraits of hard local realities are often drawn in Portuguese films since the thirties, with particular incidence from the sixties to the eighties,[15] and again in the early 21st century. The remote Trás-os-Montes region (see: Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro Province in Portugal), Guinée Bissau
Guinée Bissau
or the Cape Vert
Cape Vert
islands (ancient Portuguese colonies), which step in the limelights from the eighties on thanks to the work of certain directors (Flora Gomes, Pedro Costa, or Daniel E. Thorbecke, the unknown author of Terra Longe [16][17][18]) are themes for pioneering films of this genre, important landmarks in film history. Arousing fiction in the heart of ethnicity is something current in the Portuguese popular narrative (oral literature): in other words, the traditional attraction for legend and surrealistic imagery in popular arts[19] inspires certain Portuguese films to strip off realistic predicates and become poetical fiction. This practice is common to many fictional films by Manoel de Oliveira
Manoel de Oliveira
and João César Monteiro and to several docufiction hybrids by António Campos, António Reis and Ricardo Costa.[20][21][22] Since the 1960s, ethnofiction (local real life and fantasy in one) is a distinctive mark of Portuguese cinema. Chronology[edit] 1920s[edit]

1926 – Moana by Robert Flaherty, EUA


1930 – Maria do Mar
Maria do Mar
by José Leitão de Barros, Portugal 1931 – Tabu written by Robert Flaherty
Robert Flaherty
and directed by F. W. Murnau, USA 1932 – L'or des mers by Jean Epstein, France 1933 – Las Hurdes: Tierra Sin Pan by Luis Buñuel, Spain 1934 – Man of Aran by Robert Flaherty, UK


1942 – Ala-Arriba! by José Leitão de Barros. Portugal 1948 – Louisiana Story
Louisiana Story
by Robert Flaherty
Robert Flaherty


1955 - Les maîtres fous
Les maîtres fous
(The Mad Masters) by Jean Rouch. France 1958 – Moi, un noir (Me a Black) by Jean Rouch. France


1961 – La pyramide humaine by Jean Rouch, France 1962 – Acto da Primavera (Act of Spring) by Manoel de Oliveira. Portugal 1963 – Pour la suite du monde
Pour la suite du monde
(Of Whales, the Moon and Men) by Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, Canada 1967 - Jaguar, by Jean Rouch, France


1976 – People from Praia da Vieira (Gente da Praia da Vieira) by António Campos, Portugal 1976 – Changing Tides (Mau Tempo, Marés e Mudança) by Ricardo Costa, Portugal 1976 – Trás-os-Montes by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro, Portugal 1979 – Bread and Wine (O Pão e o Vinho) by Ricardo Costa, Portugal


1988 – Mortu Nega (Death Denied) by Flora Gomes, Guiné-Bissau


2000 – No Quarto da Vanda
No Quarto da Vanda
(In Vanda’s Room) by Pedro Costa 2003 – Terra Longe (Remote Land) by Daniel E. Thorbecke 2006 – Colossal Youth by Pedro Costa 2007 – Transfiction by Johannes Sjöberg 2011 - Toomelah by Ivan Sen


^ Glossary at MAITRES_FOUS.NET ^ Types of Cameras – definition at UCLA ^ Marcel Griaule
Marcel Griaule
(1898 – 1956) – Article by Sybil Amber ^ From Pictorializing to Visual Anthropology1 – Chapter from “Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology” ^ From Representation to Evocation: Tracing a Progression in Jean Rouch's ‘’Les magiciens de Wanzerbé’’, ‘’Les maîtres fous’’, and ‘’Jaguar’’ – Article by Ted Nannicelli at Taylor & Francis Group ^ L'ETHNOFICTION A L'ŒUVRE Prisme et images de l'entité dogon – Article (French) by Gaetano Ciarcia at Université Montpellier III ^ Father of 'cinema verite' dies – BBC news ^ BIOGRAPHIES: Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
– Article by Ben Michaels at Indiana University ^ A Tribute to Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
by Paul Stoller at Rouge ^ Ethnographic
Film (origines) ^ Knowing Images: Jean Rouch’s Ethnography
<- Chapter from Sarah Cooper's monograph “Selfless Cinema?: Ethics and French Documentary” (Oxford: Legenda, 2006) at MAITRES-FOUS.net ^ Cine-trance ^ Cine-trance: a Tribute to Jean Rouch(Visual Anthropology, American Anthropologist) ^ Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
and the Genesis of Ethnofiction – thesis by Brian Quist (Long Island University) ^ Imagining Rurality: Portuguese Documentary
and Ethnographic
Film in the 1960s and 1990s – Abstract for a conference by Catarina Alves Costa at Comité du Film Ethnographique ^ African Filmmaker Profiles: Flora Gomes at The Woyingi Blog ^ The Films of Pedro Costa at Distant Voices ^ Terra Longe at South Planet (French) ^ The Portuguese and the “others”: dialogue of cultures and characters in oral literary tradition - Article by Maria Edite Orange and Maria Inês Pinho at Departamento de Artes e Motricidade Humana do IPP – Escola Superior de Educação (Porto) ^ Things we see: Portuguese anthropology on material culture – Paper by Filomena Silvano at Scielo ^ Disquieting Objects - Article by Gabe Klinger at The Museum of Moving Image ^ Ricardo Costa and the Flowing Pictures Archived July 10, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. – Article by José de Matos-Cruz

See also[edit]

Visual anthropology Ethnography Ethnographic
film Media ecology Direct cinema Docufiction


Ethnofition at The University of Manchester (watch video) Ethnofiction and Beyond: The Legacy of Projective Improvisation in Ethnographic
Filmmaking by Johannes Sjöberg L’ETHNOFICTION A L'ŒUVRE: prisme et images de l'entité dogon – Article (French) by Gaetano Ciarcia at Université Montpellier III Rouch & Cie. - un quintette – Article (French) by Andrea Paganini at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales Ethnic
Portraits and Ethnofiction at Mubi The war of dreams: exercises in ethno-fiction by Marc Augé (google books)

Further reading[edit]

From Representation to Evocation: Tracing a Progression in Jean Rouch's Les magiciens de Wanzerbe, Les maitres fous, and Jaguar – Paper by Ted Nannicelli at University of Waikato Ethnofiction : drama as a creative research practice in ethnographic film at Mendley – Paper by Bloom, Elizabeth A., Ed.D., STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AT BINGHAMTON, 2006 Language description and “the new paradigm”: What linguists may learn from ethnocinematographers – Article by Gerrit J. Dimmendaal, University of Cologne, at University of Hawai’i at Manoa

External links[edit]

Ethnofiction and the Work of Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch
at UK Visual Anthropology Consider ethnofiction – paper Ethnography
and Education – paper

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