DER Documentary

Fishers of Dar

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by Lina Fruzzetti, Ákos Östör, Steven Ross
color, 38 min, 2001

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Samaki wa Dar es Salaam/Fishers of Dar is an ethnographic film about the fishermen and women of downtown Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It explores the continuity and integrity of traditional fishing practices in new, contemporary settings. Dar es Salaam is a metropolis of 3 million people yet the city's demand for fish is entirely met by equipment, methods and tools that have been used here for hundreds of years.

This film takes the viewer to the central fish market and pier in the city harbor, and to a small fishing community away from the market. It is structured between two sunrises and two sunsets: the story begins before dawn, with small lanteen sailed boats (ngawaalas) and bigger mashua boats (a diesel engine replacing the sail) leaving for fishing grounds close by or further out to sea, and continues with fishing at sea; coming back to unload and sell fish at the market; auctions and retail sales; fast food preparation and sale at the market; home-based work and leisure activities in the fishing community.

Eschewing commentary and voice-over explanation — similar to Forest of Bliss — the film shows the many hands the fish pass through before reaching customers. Hundreds of people make a living in the process. We see fishermen and women, boat builders, boat crews, auctioneers, laborers, vendors and market people of all kinds. Not the least are women who come with buckets, buy and clean small fish and then go back home by bus to sell fried fish in the hundreds of smaller markets of the city.

The film reveals how traditional methods articulate with modern demands. There are problems: a brief text at the end of the film points out that the market was recently demolished to make way for expansion of the harbor. The age old process continues but under difficult new conditions.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Best Cinematography, 40th Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2002
Golden Dhow, Director's Choice, Zanzibar International Film Festival, 2002
Juror's Choice, Black Maria Film Festival, 2003
Best Documentary, Athens Ohio Film Festival, 2003
Seagull Media Center, Kolkata, India, 2002
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, 2002
Fine Arts Cinema, Berkeley, CA, 2003
5th World Congress of Anthropological Sciences, Florence, Italy, 2003
Rhode Island International Film Festival, Providence, 2003
Rakumi Arts Film Festival, Seattle Museum of Art, 2003
Northwest Folk Life Film Festival, Seattle, 2003

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