Side Programme 2020




Long before I became a filmmaking anthropologist, I had been questioning the conventions of academic text-making, which, as John Law put it, seek to ‘distort reality into clarity’. Clarity was exactly what was absent in the places I studied: war-ridden Serbia, where so many lives ended in the mud, and the temples of Afro-Brazilian Candomblé, with their possession rituals and bloody altars. These places where a mess, and I might add: flauntingly so. The academic dictum that the best way to understand them required the sorting out and cleaning up of that mess just did not make sense. The mess ought to be addressed as such.  

I found film to be a medium that is far more hospitable to the messiness of the world. In this video-talk, I will discuss (and show) how I have used film to introduce mess in my work. Initially by following the examples of “delinguified” sensory films that came out of the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab; yet soon – for reasons to be explained – reintroducing the word as proposed in the genre of the essay film.

Keynote held in English

Distribute! Ethnographic Films – ONLINE CONFERENCE

The recording of the live-stream will be available on our website from Friday 8th of May.

Distribute 2020 is a virtual anthropology conference streaming audio-visual panels and live nodes. Organised by the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) and the Society für Visual Anthropology (SVA), the theme – #Distribute – attends to contemporary anthropological and visual practices, theories, forms of distribution and redistribution, and seeks to re-distribute conventional conference formats. It is a hybrid experiment in creating community through a combination of virtual conferencing and in-person nodes.

Ethnographic film festivals have long been an important platform for the presentation of films produced by and with anthropologists and are committed to linking anthropologists to a wider audience. In this round-table, we explore the ways in which anthropological knowledge can reach the audience, and ask about the role of ethnographic film festivals in this process.

On May 8, the ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna and the Vienna Visual Anthropology Lab of the University of Vienna, organise a local Vienna Distribute node. With this publicly accessible session we continue to strengthen the Visual Anthropology community within Vienna, and internationally, despite the current situation of social distancing.

Panel Participants: Marie-Christine Hartig, Andy Lawrence, Viktoria Paar, Katja Seidel, Christos Varvantakis, Werner Zips; Chair: Sanderien Verstappen

Organised in cooperation with the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology / University of Vienna

Masterclass: ‘Inner breath: filming the imaginary’

Based on his film Campo, which celebrates its Austrian Premiere at the ethnocineca, Tiago Hespanha examines the relationship between the real and the imaginary – a correlation that moves and feeds the cinematographic gesture. Hespanha proposes a wild journey through the process of making this film guided only by this initial question: how to shoot the imaginary?

We are happy to welcome Tiago Hespanha with his new film at this years’ ethnocineca. In 2015, he presented another film, Industrial Revolution, during our festival. This year his film Campo, which is nominated for the International Documentary Award (IDA), will be shown as part of our online programme.

Masterclass held in English 
In cooperation with Volksundemuseum Wien

Round Table: Waiting and Acting – The role of the camera in times of social upheaval

Unemployment, displacement and a lack of future prospects run alongside the promise of capitalism and economic progress. The two films Cracks and A new Era move between waiting and acting, questions of economic and social upheaval and the power of political narratives in documentary filmmaking amid (post-)socialist and capitalist realities.

Boris Svartzman has accompanied the residents of the city of Guangzhou for seven years in their resistance to displacement from their homes. They oppose the dislocation of the old quarter and the gentrification with its supposed economic and social promises. Cracks, in turn, presents the impact of historical and economic changes on post-Soviet / post-socialist realities. From the industrial rise and subsequent decline, Cracks accompanies the residents of the Bulgarian city of Pernik through a time of upheavals and change.

Boris Svartzman und Dimitra Kofti in conversation with Marie-Christine Hartig

Conversation in English.
In cooperation with Weltmuseum Wien und 

kontroversiell! FILM AND TALK – 21 DAYS INSIDE in conversation with Zohar Wagner

The body of a two-year-old boy is found in the well of a Bedouin village. The mother is immediately suspected and arrested the same day. In order to force a confession, the interrogating police officers deliberately and shamelessly exploit the mother’s weaknesses during the twenty-one day detention. 21 Days Insideuses archive material from the police to process this complex and startling story. Interrogations from surveillance cameras and sound recordings from the cell, as well as drawings of re-enacted scenes tell the incident. The film impressively dissects topics of power, police violence and discrimination against women and ethnic minorities.

In the conversation that follows the screening, we discuss the working of structural violence and patriarchal ideas of power as well as the design of the film, that, intermixed with some animated sceens, builds almost exclusively on material provided by the executive forces.

Conversation in English.
In cooperation with


A conversation with Alba Sotorra and Helin Çelik

“How does a democratic experiment work that is carried out by women in middle of a war? What are the challenges of the presence of the female figure in a political context of armed conflict?

The discussion raises awareness for the resistance movement taking place in the cantons of Rojava (Northern Syria), where women participate on all levels of decision making in building a new society with rights for ethnic minorities, the freedom of religion, women’s rights and ecological principles in the middle of a war zone in the Middle East. It aims to reflect the complexity of Kurdish feminism and the armed resistance of women to abolish the state authority.

Discussion in English.
This programme was curated in collaboration with Helin Çelik


ZAGROS | Ariane Lorrain

Zagros, by Ariane Lorrain and Shahab Mihandoust, is a visually impressive example of the cinema of the senses. In a poetic style, it follows the creation of carpets across the Western mountains of Iran, the land of Bakhtiaris. Wool is the guiding thread that traverses nomadic and sedentary cultures, revealing the worlds of weavers, dyers and shepherds through their labour. Carpets weave the social fabric of their lives, giving it form as well as colour. The work is hard and is gradually being devalued by the outside world – but their lives are carried by the love they feel for their traditions. 

In this year’s workshop, Canadian-Iranian Filmmaker and Anthropologist Ariane Lorrain reveals the meaning of the cinema of the senses and carries us to discuss questions of sensory ethnography, audio-visual elicitation and the meaning of poetry and art as a means to open up cultural and social worlds, not through the spoken word but through an incorporated feeling of experience.

Workshop held in English.