Workshop: Ethnographic film as a method in the communication of research and development-cooperation


Estonian National Museum, J. Kuperjanovi st. 9

Film is becoming an increasingly important medium in the communication of academic research and development cooperation. The focus of this workshop is on documentary films that are aimed at communicating research results or “development goals” to the beneficiaries of the respective projects as part of an awareness-campaign. The underlying idea is that film has the potential to make people change their attitudes or even behaviour. In order to be as accessible as possible, these films should be constructed very much in line with the tastes and viewing habits of the respective target group. Especially in intercultural contexts, visual anthropologists and ethnographic filmmakers should be wholly qualified to produce these films.

This workshop is aimed at filmmakers and anthropologists as well as professionals from the development-sector and researchers that might be interested in using film to communicate the outcome of their work to different audiences. The workshop introduces films that have been produced for different development projects and discusses some important issues, such as:

  • Which formats and perspectives are predominant in awareness films?
  • How can participatory approaches be applied in order to enhance the films?
  • What are the advantages of re-enactment in awareness-filmmaking?
  • How can the process of filmmaking contribute to the outcome of the research- or development project?

Working language: English

The workshop is led by Martin Gruber, a freelance film director, anthropologist and lecturer at Hamburg University (ethnographic film)

Please find and read M.Grubers article on awarenessfilms here!

Films screened during the workshop:

Timeless artists / Anant Kalakar

Director: Sudheer Gupta

Year of release: 2006

Duration: 33 min

In Rajasthan district in North-Western India more than 100 odd varieties of folk-arts using over 50 differently sounding musical intruments, is registered. The film is an insight to the contemporaty Indian folk culture and explorest the ways how the state can make a difference in supporting and achieveing a culturally sustainable development of Indian society.

Wiza Wetu! / Our Forest!

Directors : Michael Pröpper and Martin Gruber

Year of release: 2007

Duration: 50 min

"Wiza Wetu!” depicts the situation of villagers in Kavango woodland savannah in Northern Namibia who despite of increasing deforestation practise logging and introduces the different actors involved in the trade. The film also introduces the concept of community based natural resource management and proposes alternative sources of income.

Water is Life / Mema Eparu

Director: Martin Gruber

Year of release: 2007

Duration: 30 min

The ethnographic awareness film “Mema Eparu” deals with the importance of clean drinking water for the citizens of Rundu town, situated at the banks of the Kavango River in Northern Namibia, and with the efforts that are necessary in order to provide this service to the community.  

Mother Earth - a new future for small farmers

Directors: Paul Enkelaar, Jan Paul Smit

Year of release: 2007

Duration: 30 min

Millions of poor farmers in India have turned their backs on modern agriculture in order to bring new life to their traditional ways of farming. Surprisingly good results are achieved due to a combination of working together intensively, and the masterly combining of traditional seeds.

In need to make a living

Director: Eva Stotz

Year of production: 2005

Duartion: 30 min

Since 1997 Uganda has created a scheme to provide all children with a free primary school education. As a result, primary schools have sprung up everywhere like mushrooms. But, what happens to all the thousands of children after finishing primary school?

In Need To Make A Living” documents a vocational training program set up by the German Development Service (DED) and the local partner organization UGAPRIVI.