DER Documentary

Passing Girl: Riverside – An Essay On Camera Work

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by Kwame Braun
color, 24 min, 1998

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At a street festival in West Africa, a young girl is delighted to discover a video camera trained on her. But her exuberant display is quickly cut short when she recognizes that the cameraman has already lost interest in her. But all is well: he has a document of the moment. Video has tipped the balance in another human interaction, and turned it into a curio.

This experimental video essay probes the complexities of video as a tool for cross-cultural research and representation: it examines, in effect, the politics of its own production. How does the intrusion of this expensive technology distort relationships? What are the ethnographic filmmaker's responsibilites towards his "subjects?"

Yet perhaps these concerns are themselves distortions, preoccupations that obscure a more balanced encounter, in which human accommodation can flow in both directions.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Bronze Apple Award, National Educational Media Network, 1998
Pacific Northwest Festival of Fictional and Anthropological Cinema, 1999
New York Exposition of Short Film and Video, Documentary Jury Award 1998
22nd Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival, 1998
Royal Anthropological and Basil Wright Prize Screenings, 6th
International Festival of Ethnographic Film

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts