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On Television Production of Ethnographic Films on the Example of Three Films Dealing with Istrian Themes
; Department of Cultural Studies, faculty of Philosophy, Rijeka, Croatia
Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (734 KB)
Puljar, S. (1999). O televizijskoj produkciji etnografskih filmova na primjeru triju filmova s istarskim temama. Studia ethnologica Croatica, 10/11(1), 153-164. Preuzeto s http://hrcak.srce.hr/48544
This paper shows directions of television production of ethnographic films in Croatia and their possible alternations on the example of comparison of three films with different subject matter, but common broader theme. Films in question are Istarska češljarija (198l) (Istrian combing (carding)) directed by Nada Danojlević, Barbanske pučke igre (1991) (Popular games from Barban) directed by Igor Michieli, and Mih (1985) (Bellows) directed by Petar Radović.
Film Mih is merely one episode of a five part serial film Istra (Istria), and has been chosen for this analysis because it shows the most mature and most committed approach, and also stands out in quality from the other four. It demonstrates the making of and playing on the Istrian bellows, as well as dancing.
Barbanske pučke igre is part of the six part serial Istarske teme (Istrian themes) that show selected topics from Istrian life that are mosaically presented in certain episodes in the manner of skica iz kraja (a sketch from a countryside). These films consult experts (the author and script-writer Aleksej Pavlovsky is an ethnologist) but the concept of films is mosaic and that points to superficiality, unless the standard is so high that it can fulfil documentary aspects by being systematic. Barbanske pučke igre, show popular competitions in the small town of Barban, and according to the film's structure, visual quality and impression, authentically represent the whole serial, and therefore the author chose it for the comparison with the other two films.
Film Istarska češljarija is an autonomous work filmed in the place of Cere in Istria, and it represents the reconstruction of the custom of combing of wool by Cultural Club Cere.
By comparison of the sound and music in these three films, basic differences in the authors' approaches in realisation of the film were pointed out. In Mih, original sound is used almost all the time, and in that way it underlines a documentor quality of the approach (music appears in three basic situations: as a base for a signature tune, in transitive scenes which separate basic phases of the making of bellows, and in the sign off). Barbanske pučke igre start with a very dynamic combination of modern and traditional music that sets the tone and pace for the whole film in the very beginning. Istarska češljarija uses original sound, and the music is incorporated in the performance of the custom. The role of the host varies from one film to another: in Mih he doesn't really exist but his role is taken over by the narrator who shows the making of instrument and comments on each new step, until the final result is being reached. In Barbanske pučke igre on the contrary, the host is dominant, marks every game and competition with his presence, and by using his voice keeps the viewers informed on what is going on. In Istarska češljarija reconstruction of the custom speaks for itself, there is no host, and such concept forces the viewer to find his own answers for questions that occur during the watching. What follows is a comparison of camera, atmosphere and themes: in Mih camera is precise, in Barbanske pučke igre dynamic, in Istarska češljarija static. In all three films the atmosphere is achieved by abundance of information; in Barbanske pučke igre that is achieved using short insights into various activities of the fair day, in Istarska češljarija by frequent totals of a group of people in which everyone is doing their own bit of work and the third film embodies interesting combination of aspiration for preciseness and abundance. On the one hand the technique and process of making bellows are really precisely shown by the narrow framing of interesting action, and on the other the atmosphere in certain dramatic moments is emphasised almost to the level of fiction. Subject matter in Mih is obvious: to show the way of making and the usage of certain music instrument. Istarska češljarija and Barbanske pučke igre don't show the choice of activities from former way of life as it may seem on the first sight, but the present-day activities of Istrian people and their restoring or remembrance of former traditions. The custom of combing the wool is performed by members of the Cultural Club Cere the way they learned it from various older sources. They didn't come up with reconstruction just for the necessity of this film, but also for their regular gatherings when they perform traditional songs, dances and customs. This is indeed part of their life, the film captured a part of their reality. We can think of restoring the seventeen centuries old trka na prstenac (tilting at the ring) in Barban in the same way. By accepting the fact that the film shows one of the daily segments of contemporary life, we admit that what we're dealing with is genuine ethnography, and not just the reconstruction of former way of life.
In the further text the author considers the question of objectivity of television ethnographic and scientific film. Referring to the articles of Križnar and Lozois, she deals with two approaches to ethnographic film: in the first the film is perceived as a primary document made while the members of the culture in question display their viewpoints, in the other it is a secondary document in which observers of the culture in question talk about it. Furthermore she talks about the process of elimination that the picture undergoes twice before it reaches the final stage (in both cases the thing in question is subjective estimation of explorer or director) and that widely undermined impression that the film picture of reality is objective. The structure of ethnographic film can be dichotomous: it can research only one particular phenomenon using micro-descriptive approach, or it can view that same phenomenon in its context, using macro-descriptive approach, as well as analyse interactions with the social environment in which it becomes apparent. The author feels that the deeper analysis of the problem area enables the revelation of a pattern and that micro-descriptive approach can also be interesting to a broad audience who is quite often underestimated by the presentation of undemanding films.
In contrast to these already mentioned basic groups of ethnographic films (with the host - whoever takes his role- or without him) there is a possibility of filming anthropological (or ethnological) film whose structure would be similar to the one in the scientific research: account of the field, ending with the discussion and development of the theory on the basis of data collected in the field work, and final conclusions of
the author. Kronika ljeta 1960 (The Chronicle of the Summer 1960) by Jean Rouche and Edgar Morin is an excellent (unfortunately quite rare) example of this kind of film.
After the comparison of the three films dealing with Istrian themes, the author concludes that they represent completely different ways and approaches in the presentation of ethnological themes. There is no firm concept for the filming of ethnographic films in general, nor for that matter ethnographic films for television. They represent authorship in the manner of expression and documentary films in respecting the facts. We can often hear voices dissatisfied with insufficient interest of ethnologists for co-operative work with television. The results of this co-operation are not satisfactory in scientific approach for the demands of the ethnologists, nor in the artistic scale for the film makers, but for the realisation of quality work tolerance is required on both sides. Ethnologists should accept the fact that by the help of television they can and should introduce their achievements to the broadest audience, and film makers should realise that by collaboration with experts they can achieve more quality shows. Only then can we think of the proper approach, achievement of greater objectivity and other questions raised in this article.
television production; ethnografic film; Istria
Hrčak ID: 48544
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