Welcome to the Worldfilm festival!

The eighth Worldfilm festival takes place from March 21rst-27th, 2011. We welcome you to spend a week with documentary films made with anthropological spirit.

This edition of Worldfilm festival has a few topics. Firstly, the senses and the anthropology of senses. Over the last decades, anthropology as a research discipline has moved beyond the cross-cultural comparison and become more involved with the visual, the embodied, the everyday as the multisensory experience. Contemporary anthropology is not so much dealing with senses though, rather it is more informed of sensory perception. Among the researchers, there is interest to look at, how the senses both complement and conflict each other and how this is related to the cultural aspects of being human. Recent work by neurologists suggests that the senses are interconnected in human perception. The five senses do not travel along separate channels, but interact to a degree few scientists would have believed only a decade ago (see Cytowic 2010).

At the Worldfilm festival, in order to deal with this complexity and learn to understand it better, we felt that it makes sense to start from looking at those “channels” separately. We present you a small selection of films across the main programme, where the senses are at the focus.

As part of this interest, the first day of the festival is dedicated to the sound. In cooperation with the Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory, the festival starts with a day seminar about sound and sonic ethnography. It will be a program that addresses the theme of sound as a subject of study and as a medium to convey a sense of social experience. This seminar consists of a series of events, including a lecture of dr. Ernst Karel from Harvard University, a film sound session and a round table with filmmakers about their approach to sound in their craft - a small workshop that will address how sound has been used in ethnographic cinema. Also a presentation of a sound-walk, produced collaboratively with anthropology students of Tallinn University and Estonia-based sound artists, takes place.

Although every single film in the main program has to do with the senses, as visual anthropology istelf is part of the ‘sensorial turn’, a set of films can be pointed out, where the connection with the cultural and the senses are in the foreground. For example, relating to food and sensing the food in “Cooking up dreams”, but also “NWNH/News from nowhere” and the “Future of Hope”. After watching those films, you could have a walk also in the exhibition “A Taste of Europe” at the exhibition house of the Estonian National Museum. The program also presents films about people living with different sensory capabilities and adjusting to the world despite the lack of vision or capability to hear: “The path of dreams” and “DeafKidsLand”. Closely related to the issue of senses are films about art and artistic practices: “Through Shadows”, “Of Shadows and Men” and certainly also about music and musicians: “Holy fire” and “Fire Burn Babylon”.

Please do not miss the concerts we offer you as part of the program outside the main festival venue!

A second more significant stream in the program is the issue of the communities: urban, traditional, rooted or lost their place to exist – the films show, hot the communities are in a constant, dynamic change. Two films give insight to traditional religious communities and how community members face and experience the change: “Bird’s way” and “Next year in Bombay”. Some of the films, showing us the present, also reveal the past, still part of today through the elderly people in “No more majorettes in Villalba” and “Twelve Neighbours”.

Yet another two films approach the ritual aspects of traditional communities. Both films, shot in Cameroon, benefit from their approach and the particular position of the filmmaker towards the filmed ones. “Funeral season” is a film made from the outsider perspective. A foreign filmmaker finds himself in the culture where “the dead are not dead”, on a road trip through Cameroon’s joyous funeral celebrations. The other film, on the other hand, couldn’t have been made without the filmmaker belonging to the portrayed community: “Juarke – boys made men in Mboun society” deals with the male circumcision in the filmmakers’ home region in Cameroon, as the effort to make stable a social order resulting from this practice.

Forced or inevitable change and questions of survival, relocation and co-existence of different groups in multicultural society are guiding topics in “Reborn in Westphalia” about a provincial town in Germany, now a capital of Tamil exile Hinduism and “Fire Burn Babylon”, a story of Rastafarians, evacuated to London from Montserrat as a result of the volcanic eruption and reinventing themselves in this big city, putting their spiritual identities on stake.

Those, abovementioned and a several other films from this year’s program are still left to discover you during the festival. The festival team would like to thank all the people and institutions who have supported the festival, including the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Estonian Film Foundation and Department of Culture of Tartu City. We also thank our cooperation partners, such as design studio Fraktal, conference and cultural centre Athena, Centre of Art and Social practice MoKS, Centre of Excellene in Cultural Theory (EU, Regional Development Fund) and lots of others. The Worldfilm festival can be a success only thanks to a great team, working for the festival, including the volunteers, heads of sub-programs, moderators and you, the guests.

Pille Runnel,
director of the festival