American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary is a critical history of American filmmakers crucial to the development of ethnographic film and personal documentary. The Boston and Cambridge area is notable for nurturing these approaches to documentary film via institutions such as the MIT Film Section and the Film Study Center, the Carpenter Center and the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard. Scott MacDonald uses pragmatism’s focus on empirical experience as a basis for measuring the ...
American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary is a critical history of American filmmakers crucial to the development of ethnographic film and personal documentary. The Boston and Cambridge area is notable for nurturing these approaches to documentary film via institutions such as the MIT Film Section and the Film Study Center, the Carpenter Center and the Visual and Environmental Studies Department at Harvard. Scott MacDonald uses pragmatism’s focus on empirical experience as a basis for measuring the groundbreaking achievements of such influential filmmakers as John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, Ed Pincus, Miriam Weinstein, Alfred Guzzetti, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Nina Davenport, Steve Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, Michel Negroponte, John Gianvito, Alexander Olch, Amie Siegel, Ilisa Barbash, and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. By exploring the cinematic, personal, and professional relationships between these accomplished filmmakers, MacDonald shows how a pioneering, engaged, and uniquely cosmopolitan approach to documentary developed over the past half century.
Scott MacDonald teaches film history at Hamilton College and Harvard University and in 2011 was named an Academy Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is the author of many books for UC Press, most recently Adventures in Perception: Cinema as Exploration (2009).
A Tentative Overview of Boston-Area Documentary Filmmaking • Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary • Pragmatism: Learning from Experience • The Mission of American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary: The Cambridge Turn • Subjects for Further Research • Acknowledgments
1. Lorna and John Marshall
Beginnings: Lorna Marshall and First Film • John Marshall: The Hunters • Idylls of the !Kung • Pedagogy • Expulsion from Eden: Bitter Melons and N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman • The Pittsburgh Police Films and Brakhage’s Eyes • Putting Down the Camera and Picking Up the Shovel • The Road Taken: A Kalahari Family • A Process in Time
2. Robert Gardner
East Coast/West Coast: Early Experiments • Gardner and the Marshalls • Dead Birds • The Experience of Filmmaking as Thought Process • Robert Fulton: Reality’s Invisible—"Serious Playing Around" • Screening Room: Midnight Movies • City Symphony: Forest of Bliss • The Return of the Repressed: Ika Hands • Still Journeying On: Unfinished Examinations of a Life • Studio7Arts: Sharon Lockhart’s Double Tide and Robert Fenz’s Correspondence
3. Timothy Asch
Dodoth Morning and the Ethnographic Deadpan • Asch and the Yanomamo • The Ax Fight
4. Ed Pincus and the Emergence of Personal Documentary
The Miriam Weinstein Quartet and Richard P. Rogers’s Elephants: Fragments of an Argument • Ed Pincus’s Diaries (1971–1976) • Alfred Guzzetti: Family Portrait Sittings • Guzzetti: It’s a Small World • Guzzetti: Time Exposure
5. Alfred Guzzetti and Personal Cinema
Air • Experimental Video: "Language Lessons" • Scylla and Charybdis • Still Point
6. Ross McElwee
Finding a Muse: Charleen • Finding a Voice: Ann Schaetzel’s Breaking and Entering and McElwee’s Backyard • Dopplegänger: Sherman’s March • Nesting Dolls: Time Indefinite • On the Road Again: Six O’Clock News • Occupational Hazards: Bright Leaves • Orpheus: In Paraguay and Photographic Memory
7. Robb Moss
Riverdogs: A Possible Eden • The Tourist: "Freelance Editing" • Voyage of Life: The Same River Twice
8. Panorama: Other Approaches to Personal Documentary
Steve Ascher and Jeanne Jordan: Families in Transition • Michel Negroponte: Getting Involved • Leacock and Lalonde • The Subject Rebels: Nina Davenport’s Films and Ed Pincus and Lucia Small’s The Axe in the Attic • The Political Is the Personal: John Gianvito’s Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind and Jeff Daniel Silva’s Balkan Rhapsodies • Alexander Olch’s The Windmill Movie: "This Little Séance of Flickering Light" • Amie Siegel’s DDR/DDR
9. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Sensory Ethnography
Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and Sweetgrass • "Sheeple": Castaing-Taylor’s Audio-Video Installations • The Sensory Ethnography Lab: J. P. Sniadecki, Stephanie Spray, Véréna Paravel, and Leviathan