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Transcultural Cinema
David MacDougall
Edited and with an introduction by Lucien Taylor

Paperback | 1998 | $39.95 / £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691012346
328 pp. | 6 x 9 | 25 halftones
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David MacDougall is a pivotal figure in the development of ethnographic cinema and visual anthropology. As a filmmaker, he has directed in Africa, Australia, India, and Europe. His prize-winning films (many made jointly with his wife, Judith MacDougall) include The Wedding Camels, Lorang's Way, To Live with Herds, A Wife among Wives, Takeover, Photo Wallahs, and Tempus de Baristas. As a theorist, he articulates central issues in the relation of film to anthropology, and is one of the few documentary filmmakers who writes extensively on these concerns. The essays collected here address, for instance, the difference between films and written texts and between the position of the filmmaker and that of the anthropological writer.

In fact, these works provide an overview of the history of visual anthropology, as well as commentaries on specific subjects, such as point-of-view and subjectivity, reflexivity, the use of subtitles, and the role of the cinema subject. Refreshingly free of jargon, each piece belongs very much to the tradition of the essay in its personal engagement with exploring difficult issues. The author ultimately disputes the view that ethnographic filmmaking is merely a visual form of anthropology, maintaining instead that it is a radical anthropological practice, which challenges many of the basic assumptions of the discipline of anthropology itself. Although influential among filmmakers and critics, some of these essays were published in small journals and have been until now difficult to find. The three longest pieces, including the title essay, are new.

Review:

"With the voice of an essayist that combine the artistic sensibility of a Bresson with the writerly craft of a Barthes, MacDougall thinks through a theory of the documentary in terms of epistemological issues. . . . [T]his is a first-rate book."--Choice

"David MacDougall . . . has carried out more research in non-Western cultural contexts than most academic anthropologists and, as this book attests, is well read in the literature. . . . The twenty or so films that he has both shot and directed have been highly influential in establishing a model of good practice in ethnographic film-making. MacDougall also has the ability to write elegantly and reflectively about what he does."--Paul Henley, London Review of Books

Table of Contents:

Illustrations vii
Preface ix
Introduction by Lucien Taylor 3
PART ONE
1. The Fate of the Cinema Subject 25
2. Visual Anthropology and the Ways of Knowing 61
3. The Subjective Voice in Ethnographic Film 93
PART TWO
4. Beyond Observational Cinema 125
5. Complicities of Style 140
6. Whose Story Is It? 150
7. Subtitling Ethnographic Films 165
8. Ethnographic Film: Failure and Promise178
PART THREE
9. Unprivileged Camera Style 199
10. When Less Is Less 209
11. Film Teaching and the State of Documentary 224
12. Films of Memory 231
13. Transcultural Cinema 245
Bibliography 279
Filmography 293
Index 303

This book has been translated into:

  • Chinese (Complex)

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    File created: 11/10/2014

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