Indigenous Voices

Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny

Mark Sandiford

For centuries Inuit have been studying white people. Now, revealed for the first time, the results of their research into one of the most perplexing societies on earth.

Qallunaat! Why White People are Funny is an irreverent look at Western Civilization through Inuit eyes. Inspired by the satirical essays of Zebedee Nungak, the film turns the tables on generations of anthropologists, teachers, adventurers and administrators who went North to pursue their Arctic Dreams.

Now it’s their turn to be poked, prodded, examined and explained. A new generation of Inuit is ready to take on the Qalllunaat at their own game. Grounded in their own traditions but educated in the South, they have a unique perspective on the culture that has come to dominate the planet. And they are not afraid to speak their minds.
Qallunaat! Why White People are Funny is an uproarious trip through the cultural looking glass.

Batuque

Julio Silvao Tavares

In 1462, the first African slaves were settled on the island of Cape Verde brought by the Portuguese colony. It is supposed that they were the first inhabitants of the archipelagos. They carried with them the rhythms and the seeds of what became the Batuque: a music form, performed mostly by women, both singers and dancers. The singers repeat very strong lyrics, sitting in a circle and beating the rhythm with their hands on a piece of cloth between their legs, while one woman performs a sensual dance with her hips in the middle of the circle. During the colonial era, it has been strongly forbidden but it remained alive in clandestinely. The group Raiz de Tambarina, one of the oldest groups of Batuque on Santiago Island, is composed of ordinary people, saleswomen, fish merchants, drivers… Through their everyday life and performances we discover Cape Verde today and their passion for the Batuque.

Seasons of Migration

John Bishop

Seasons of Migration is a dance about culture shock, and the film combines the performance with the choreographer’s and dancer’s commentary, and stories of the troubles and triumphs of Cambodians who emigrated to Long Beach, California. Sophiline Cheam Shapiro grew up in Pol Pot’s camps; as a teenager she trained as a Cambodian classical dancer, later emigrating to the United States where she continued her dance studies at UCLA and began choreographing work that used the idioms and vocabulary of the Cambodia court dance to explore contemporary themes. She settled in Long Beach, the largest Cambodian city outside Cambodia, and founded the Khmer Arts Academy. Her work has toured in the US and Europe. This dance work, performed by dancers from Cambodia, made a ten city tour of the US.

The Turcisce Carnival

Ivo Kuzmanic

Turčišće is a northern Croatian village famous for its traditional wooden carnival masks lafras. During the past 40 years the play was no longer performed in the village itself since the performers preferred to go to other places and visit other carnivals on that particular day. Nevertheless, in the February of 2004 the people of Turčišće were prepared to perform it for the crew and their cameras although it has not been performed in the village for years. But the creators of the show refused because they wanted to stay true to the documentary approach.
And that is how this film came about. It is really about the conflicts – within the village, between the two mask makers and their carnival groups, between the old customs and the modern way of life, between the locals and the film crew and finally, between the film itself and what nowadays passes for film documentaries, which is exactly what this film spoofs.

Ngat is Dead: Studying Mortuary Traditions

Christian Suhr Nielsen, Ton Otto

The Dutch anthropologist Ton Otto returns to the Melanesian island Baluan after the death of his adoptive father, Ngat. According to local tradition he has to participate in a mortuary ceremony together with his adopted siblings, but the ceremony, his father wanted him to do, has already been performed. Now Ton has to find out what would be an appropriate next step. It appears that different groups have different perspectives and interests and as a compromise, that also suits his own knowledge interests, Ton suggests that two additional ceremonies are performed. While most people are supportive, some strongly criticise the execution of the ceremonies for not being correct according to Baluan tradition. The film deals with the dilemmas of a participating researcher, who is both social actor and anthropological observer, and gives the viewer a close look at the way Melanesian actors contest and negotiate their social reality: their kin relations, mortuary traditions, and also the participating anthropologists.

Dancing Kathmandu

Sangita Shresthova

Sangita, a dancer of Czech-Nepali origin, journeys to Kathmandu to explore how practitioners in the Himalayan Kingdom negotiate Nepal’s dance traditions in a period of rapid cultural change. In her attempts to map the current situation of dance in Kathmandu valley, she encounters her own teachers as well as younger dancers currently finding their way. Dancing Kathmandu tells stories of nostalgia, passion and survival through dance and dancers in the age of globalization. In Nepal, dancers are sometimes viewed with suspicion as they straddle the uncomfortable border between the sacred and the profane. On one hand, dance, as embodied sacred ritual still offers unique access to worship of Hindu and Buddhist deities. On the other hand, society often passes harsh judgment on spectacular dancing girls as women of “compromised character”. In this documentary, Kathmandu-based dancers of all genres speak about why they dance, why they persevere, and in some cases why they no longer perform in public. Through their artistic practice, the dancers struggle for cultural continuity.

The Importance of Being MLABRI

Janus Billeskov Jansen

“MLABRI marry MLABRI”. But what will young IDang do, when there are no Mlabri girls around? Chalat is leaving for boarding school. His mother asks: will he ever come back? As a child Chuwit roamed the jungles with his parents. He knows Mlabri life is about to change radically, and he wishes to have a say, but will he get a chance? The Importance of Being Mlabri is a film about the Mlabri, told by themselves in their own language. There are 320 Mlabri people left on this planet. This is a decisive moment in Mlabri history. One generation ago they came out of the jungle in Northern Thailand. The Mlabri used to be hunters and gatherers. For the moment they scrape out a meagre existence at the bottom of society working as day-labourers. Right now they all face the crucial question: How does one adapt to a world full of Outsiders without disappearing?

On the Road With the Red God

Kesang Tseten

Every 12 years, impassioned devotees pull a 65-feet tall unwieldy chariot in the Kathmandu Valley, its rider an enigmatic god worshipped by Hindu and Buddhist, on a months-long journey proceeded by abundant ritual and animal sacrifice. The enterprise calls for extreme cooperation and rigorous observance of ritual in the building, sanctification and pulling of the chariot. But the jatra (festival) is an arena of gritty reality, where participants vie for everything from a share of ritual meat, to status and proximity to the god. The chariot teeters, as does the community, between chaos and order, conflict or solidarity. Thus, every 12 years, there’s the same question: will the journey succeed?

Ghanaian Video Tales

Tobias Wendl

A tribute to the syncretism of cinema and the power of imagination, Ghanaian Video Tales introduces the exciting and unique genre of African horror movies – and the filmmakers behind it. Since the early 1990s video technology has deeply changed the African media world. Easy handling and affordable cost of production have enabled filmmakers to tell their own stories for their local audiences. The result has been a growing and highly evocative modern mythology. The documentary draws the portrait of five Ghanaian filmmakers, actors and producers. It presents original clips from some of their most famous movies: from the initial blockbuster “Zinabu” to the snakeman cycle “Diabolo” about a man who transforms his female victims into money vomitting monsters to some of the more recent demonic stories such as “Babina” and “Satan’s Wife”. It includes interviews with the pioneers and protagonists of the scene, everyday observations on set, and follows the way of the films themselves – from production to projection.

Plant Wars

Asio Liu

No plant in the world is exotic. For the plants, we are foreign. The theme of Plant Wars concerns ‘exotic’ plants, ‘indigenous’ plants, ‘special’ plants and battles among them, as well as some of our ‘imaginations’ over the battles. Among the people in the stories, some climb the trees, some sing, some miss their deceased espouses, some live by the plants, some talk to the leaves, some grow trees, some hack trees and some cannot find a proper identify of community. Some of the battles are visible, yet more are invisible. We cannot recall their names. It is not because they are too foreign but they are too familiar. Not because they are too far, but too close.