The Experimental Ethnography Show

“The Ethnography Show,” designed and printed by Alec Thibodeau

“The Ethnography Show,” designed and printed by Alec Thibodeau

In the interest of releasing Visual Ethnography from its long and relatively contentious history, Magic Lantern has assembled five films that call into question the nature of representation itself. Through works that dabble in video verite, Indian travel footage, performative documentary, and found footage mash-ups, we hope to arrive at an expanded notion of what it means to record a culture, and what happens when that culture is you… With Leslie Thornton and Jonathan Schwartz and maybe even Sarah Jane Lapp IN PERSON.

Featuring: Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy by Tracey Moffat (19:00, 35mm, 1990), Red Bugs by Ted Passon (3:00, video, 2004), Happy are the Happy (Your Best Joke, Please) by Sarah Jane Lapp and Jenny Perlin (17:00, 16mm, 1999), Den of Tigers by Jonathan Schwartz (18:00, 16mm, 2002), Adynata by Leslie Thornton (30:00, 16mm, 1983)

TRT: 81:00

SYNOPSIS:

Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy by Tracey Moffat (19:00, 35mm, 1990) On an isolated, surreal Australian homestead, a middle-aged Aboriginal woman nurses her dying white mother. The adopted daughter’s attentive gestures mask an almost palpable hostility. Their story alludes to the assimilation policy that forced Aboriginal children to be raised in white families. The stark, sensual drama unfolds without dialogue against vivid painted sets as the smooth crooning of an Aboriginal Christian singer provides ironic counterpoint. A Women Make Movies Release.

Red Bugs by Ted Passon (3:00, video, 2004) A chance encounter between a man from the east and a man from the west.

Happy are the Happy (Your Best Joke, Please) by Sarah Jane Lapp and Jenny Perlin (17:00, 16mm, 1999) Shot in the Czech Republic while the directors were working in a Bosnian refugee camp, “Happy” interviewees include a Bosnian refugee who shared a joint with a Rwandan from Paris, several survivors of Auschwitz, and many other victims of the region’s decades of conflict. Using the question “Could you tell us your best joke please?” as a stepping-off point, this film traces a journey into humor, guided by the survivors of not-so-funny lives.

Den of Tigers by Jonathan Schwartz (18:00, 16mm, 2002) Den of Tigers was made from the opportunity to travel to West Bengal, India on an invitation to record sound for a film. While there I collected images / sounds for this, my own project – a re- flection of my experience, feelings, and most of all, the participation of walking, looking, and listening. -Jonathan Schwartz

Adynata by Leslie Thornton (30:00, 16mm, 1983) A formal portrait of a Chinese Mandarin and his wife is the starting point for this allegorical investigation of the fantasies spawned in the West about the East, particularly that which associates femininity with the mysterious Orient. ADYNATA presents a series of oppositions – male and female images, past and present sounds – which in and of themselves construct a minimal and fragmentary narrative, an open text of our imaginations, fears and fantasies.