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Experimental Ethnograpy
2 day workshop at BFI

Dead Birds, Robert Gardner 1965

12 places, £60.00 per person
Sun 25 Oct 11:00 - 18:00 and Sat 31 Oct 10:30 – 18:30
To Book Tickets:
020 7815 1344
Mail to: Festival.Education@bfi.org.uk
Cost: £60

Anthropologist Anna Grimshaw said "Films are not about what you see, but how you see". This 16mm practice based workshop uses filmmaking and narration to explore the tension between the rawness of documentary image and the impossibility of anthropological 'truth'. Drawing on the field of 'experimental ethnography', participants will consider the ambiguous relationship between image and narration, and explore ways of re-contextualizing or disrupting visual 'evidence' through the creative use of text and voice.

Day 1: Inspired by the morning screening of The Exception and the Rule (Details below), participants will first learn the basics of 16mm cameras and then film in groups around the Festival and the BFI Southbank to create visual documents of the space and people.

Day 2: After a screening and discussion of the previous day's footage, participants will examine the various ways text and voice are used to create meaning by anthropologists and documentary filmmakers. They will then return to the original filmed location for a written looking and listening exercise. These observations will be used as the basis for creating 3-minute narrations to perform over their films.

This workshop includes participation in an educational screening of 'The Exception and the Rule' with discussion and 16mm Filmmaking workshop led by the filmmakers on ‘experimental ethnography’. This free screening is only open to students and workshop participants.


The Exception and the Rule + Panel discussion on the problems of anthropological ‘truth’ and issues of representation. Sun 25 Oct 11:00 - 13:00 BFI Southbank (NFT 3)
This free event is only open to students and workshop participants.

Shot primarily in Karachi, the Exception and the Rule is a conceptually rich and visually beautiful film, best described as a form of 'experimental ethnography'. Avoiding conventional documentary modes and set in a consciously political context, the filmmakers use strategies such as performative interventions outside in the streets of the city, the disruptive use of text, and the blurring of fiction and reality to create a complex and thought-provoking piece.

Dir Karen Mirza, Brad Butler / UK-Pakistan-India 2009 / 38min

The screening will be followed by a Q&A and panel event with the filmmakers and a leading anthropologist to discuss the film and broader problems of anthropological ‘truth’ and representation in both experimental ethnographic and documentary filmmaking.

Complimentary coffee and croissants in the Main Foyer 10.30 - 11.00.


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