The 14th edition of the RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film held at the Watershed in Bristol presented an inspiring, very international programme of documentaries from around the world from 16th – 19th June 2015.
This year, the city celebrates a year as European Green Capital, and that’s why, in association with the Bristol Festival of Ideas 2015, a special award for a mind-opening film addressing sustainability and environmental issues has been initiated: A big congrats to short film Honey (Huichi) The Future Okavango by Adelina Antónia, Martin Gruber, Miguel S.Hilario, Henriques Bino Job, Fatima Jose, Evaristo Quintas. ‘The interdisciplinary research project The Future Okavango (TFO) investigates sustainable land use and resource management in the Okavango Basin of Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Three participatory films were produced in collaboration with rural dwellers from the project’s core research sites in order to communicate their knowledge and share their perspectives with the project’s stakeholders as well as to broader audiences. The films show different aspects of natural resource use and discuss related issues. They were produced during workshops organized by anthropologist Martin Gruber (University of Bremen) together with the local TFO members Robert Mukuya (Namibia), Meshack Kwamovo (Botswana) and Miguel Sachilulo Hilario (Angola).’
Another special mention goes to the documentary Life In Progress by Irene Loebell, who managed over some years to build up a relationship with young dancers living in a South African township and capture their way of life and development. ‘In a rundown township near Johannesburg, three youngsters from troubled backgrounds are right in the middle of the great adventure of coming of age. All members of the dance group Taxido, their days are filled with rehearsals and performances. In Jerry, founder of the troupe in spite of his frightful past, the youngsters find the guidance lacking from their upbringings. But then the youngsters start to rebel when other interests take hold… Following the lives of three adolescents over a period of four years, Life in Progress provides a deeper understanding of current social and cultural change in urban post-apartheid township.’ Irene Loebell says about her initial ambitions: ‘I’m interested in the following questions: How is life twenty years after the end of Apartheid, where those against whom the Apartheid was directed are based? And this in very tangible, everyday details. What does the promise, that for black people everything will be different now, mean for this first generation born after Apartheid?‘
Most screenings were followed by a discussion or supported by a workshop in order to get an in-depth view on the topics. Bringing visibility to the relevance of ethnology, the festival encorporates an important event to promote anthropology across the UK. This year, RAI was hosted jointly with The Watershed Cinema in Bristol, The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol and The Center for Visual Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Dornsife College, University of Southern California, LA, California.