At the core of filmmaking is an observational eye, one that enquires and seeks to find out more about us. In its more formal incarnation it is the study of us and has produced a whole genre of anthropological filmmaking.
The most recent examples of this are being premiered at the Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival here in Bristol from Tue 16 - Fri 19 June. In partnership with the Festival we are screening three films which demonstrate the diversity and impact of an anthropological approach to filmmaking: there's Salt of the Earth (Thu 18 June at 18:00), Wim Wenders' study of great Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, whose images capture the epic struggle for humanity, The Look of Silence (Fri 12 June for at least two weeks), Joshua Oppenheimer's shocking study of participants in the brutal slaughter of a million Indonesians in the mid 60s and this, Richard Linklater's 12 year-in-the-making chronicle of a young boy that blurs the boundary between fact and fiction.
Filmed with the same group of actors over a 12 year period from 2002 to 2013, Richard Linklater's masterpiece is an engrossing one-of-a-kind epic about the ordinary: growing up, the banality of family life, and forging an identity. The film tracks 6 year old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) over life’s most radically fluctuating decade, through a familiar whirl of family moves, controversies, faltering marriages, re-marriages, new schools, first loves, lost loves, good times, scary times and a constantly unfolding mix of heartbreak and wonder.
Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke play Mason’s parents struggling to help Mason navigate life’s non-stop flux, and watching as he emerges to head down his own road. Winner of Best Film at the Oscars®, Boyhood is totally unprecedented in its intimacy and quietly radical in its own unique way.
What an astonishing achievement, and what an impressive feat of filmmaking from all involved – this is a film to celebrate and savour, and one that will be paying emotional dividends for a long, long time. If you missed it earlier in the year, take this as one of life's second chances. If you're one of the many that made it to our most watched film this year come and relive again the joys and perils of youth.
The screening will be introduced by Watershed's Cinema Curator Mark Cosgrove.
Open to everyone, the RAI Film Festival showcases more than 70 award-winning films from around the world made by ethnographic filmmakers, including Kim Longinotto, David MacDougall, and Phil Agland. Ethnography, put simply, is the study of human cultures through a long-term immersion in the lives of others. The ethnographic filmmakers featured here have produced thought-provoking films on topics as diverse as life after genocide in Rwanda, the struggle of artists in Kashmir, the art of mud-building masons in Mali, to the experiences of a young dance troupe in a South African slum. Tickets can be reserved (Day pass or Festival Pass) through the festival’s website.