DER Filmmaker

Herb Di Gioia

Herb Di Gioia is a key figure in the tradition of observational cinema. The films that he made with David Hancock in the early 1970s laid the foundations for a different kind of observational documentary than one identified with the more well known work of David and Judith MacDougall.

Following Hancock's untimely death, Di Gioia channeled most of his energies into teaching. He was a central figure in Britain's National Film and Television School, training anthropologists in filmmaking techniques and fostering ethnographic sensibilities among filmmaking students - most notably Molly Dineen.

After filmmaker Norman Miller received a grant from the National Science Foundation to do a series of films in five different ecological zones throughout the world, Di Gioia and Hancock were chosen to film in Afghanistan. It was here that they spent three to four months shooting, resulting in the Afghan Series in the Faces of Change.

"These five films portray different aspects of technology, economic arrangements and social life in the village of Aq Kupruk in northern Afghanistan. The area is hilly, intensely arid, the elevation is about 2000 feet, the population consists mainly of Tajik agriculturalists. There is a substantial bazaar at Aq Kupruk and the valley lies on the migration track of Pushtun pastoral nomads. Clearly the area comprises the three main segments of Afghan society: the bazaar sector, the farmers, and the nomads." — Asen Balikci, University of Montreal, American Anthropologist, 1977

"Despite the importance of Di Gioia's film work and his enormous influence as a teacher, his contribution and importance has been largely overlooked in histories and accounts of ethnographic cinema." — Grimshaw, Anna. Conversations with Anthropological Filmmakers: Herb Di Gioia. Visual Anthropology Review. Eds. Andrea Walsh and Najwa Adra. New York: American Anthropological Association, 2006. 46-59.)

Films Available at DER
Afghan Nomads
An Afghan Village
Naim and Jabar
Wheat Cycle


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