DER Documentary

The !Kung Series

The !Kung Series

by John Marshall


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Over the course of his career, filmmaker John Marshall shot more than one million feet of film and video (722 hours) of the Ju/'hoansi (!Kung Bushmen) of Namibia's Kalahari Desert. This body of work is unrivalled as a long-term visual study of a single group of people. Contained in Marshall's footage are the personal histories of individuals, documents of a now non-existent way of life, and the unfolding of massive social and economic change as experienced by one group of people over a period of fifty years.

A frequent innovator in the field of ethnographic film, Marshall produced twenty-three films and videos and one multi-part series from his extensive footage archive. Marshall's approach to filmmaking evolved alongside changes in film and video technology, in the fields of anthropology and ethnographic and documentary film, and on a very personal level, in Marshall's relationship to the Ju/'hoansi. These shifts can be seen throughout the course of his career, as he moved from the almost scientific, observational style of First Film (his earliest footage), to the nuanced and self-reflexive epic, A Kalahari Family.

“...One of the seminal visual anthropology projects of the twentieth century. It is unique in the world for the scope of its sustained audiovisual documentation of one cultural group... an unparalleled historical record not only of an indigenous people's traditional lifeways and ties to the land but of the transformation of these lifeways in the rapidly changing political and economic landscape that developed in concert with the struggle for Namibian independence.” UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Orthography Note
The group of people depicted in these films are the Ju/'hoansi, speakers of the Ju/'hoan language. Ju/'hoan is part of the !Kung language group; the term !Kung was previously used by the Marshall family and others to refer to Ju/'hoansi. Although the term is outdated, it has been retained here for the sake of consistency with John Marshall's previously published work. The films and their related printed materials also employ antiquated spellings of names and places. For current Ju/'hoan orthography, please see the Ju/'hoan - English Dictionary, compiled by Patrick Dickens and the Ju/'hoan Peoples Literacy Committee.

Films in the !Kung series:
Argument About a Marriage
Baobab Play
Bitter Melons
Children Throw Toy Assegais
A Curing Ceremony
Debe's Tantrum
First Film
Group of Women
The Hunters
A Joking Relationship
A Kalahari Family
!Kung Bushmen Hunting Equipment
!Kung San: Resettlement
The !Kung Short Films Collection
!Kung San: Traditional Life
Lion Game
The Meat Fight
Men Bathing
N!ai, Story of a !Kung Woman
N!owa T'ama: The Melon Tossing Game
N/um Tchai: The Ceremonial Dance of the !Kung Bushmen (bw)
Playing with Scorpions
Pull Ourselves Up or Die Out
A Rite of Passage
Tug-of-War, Bushmen
The Wasp Nest



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