David A. Feingold
David A. Feingold, Ph.D is a research anthropologist and filmmaker. Trained in anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies at Dartmouth, Yale and Columbia, he has conducted extensive field research in Southeast Asia over three decades, particularly among the Akha and Shan people. He is one of the founders and directors of the Institute for the Study of Human Issues (ISHI), the first research cooperative in the U.S.
An internationally recognized expert on opiate production and trade, Feingold served as Director of the Institute’s Center for Opium Research. He has been a consultant to the Select Committee on Narcotics of the U.S. Congress and United Nations. He chaired NGO Working Group on Drugs and Development for the Preperatory Conference on the Narcotics Convention in Stockholm, and served in a similar capacity as an NGO representative at the UN International Conference on Drugs and Illicit Trafficking in Vienna, chairing the working group on crop substitution. He is also responsible for a variety of scholarly papers of similar themes.
He has been engaged in long-term research into the political economy of land mines, holding grants from the Else Sackler Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He served as a consultant to the Delegation of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the Conference on the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva in April, 1996. He completed a three film project on land mines in Mozambique for UNICEF, and serves as International Coordinator on HIV/AIDS and Trafficking for UNESCO. He also served as a consultant and coordinator for the UNESCO research project on cultural factors in the transmission and prevention of HIV/AIDS in the Upper Mekong.
He is currently investigating the trade in minority girls and women from Burma, Yunnan and Laos to Thailand under two grants from the Else Sackler Foundation and a research and writing grant for that project from the John. D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He has been awarded a series of production grants from the Spunk Fund Inc. toward a film on this subject. He represented UNESCO at the Asian Regional Initiative Against Trafficking in Girls and Women (ARIAT) Conference, and serves on the UN Inter-Agency Working Group on Trafficking of Girls and Women in the Mekong Region.
Introduced to documentary film by director Adrian Cowell and cinematographer Chris Menges in 1964, Feingold was a consultant and co-producer of the award-winning Warlords, The Politicians, and the White Power Opera. The films in this series have won a Blue Ribbon and a Red Ribbon at the American Film Festival, the Golden Hugo at the Chicago Film Festival, and the BAFTA award (the British “Academy Award”). He was producer for Chris Menges’ documentary on street junkies in Spanish Harlem, East 103rd Street, and produced and directed A Celebration of Merit on Buddhism, masked dance, and Kukrit Pramoj in Thailand.
He was Executive Producer for the Asian Universe Film Project, in the course of which he filmed extensively with H.M., the King of Thailand, documenting conceptions of Kingship and Power.
He is co-founder, with Shari Robertson, of Ophidian Films. Ophidian Films Ltd. was created as a company of filmmakers and anthropologists to bring important social, cultural and political issues in the contemporary world to a broad international audience. Building from a base of classic documentary and ethnographic film techniques, Ophidian seeks to shed light on the challenging questions from a shared understanding of the subjects’ perspectives and knowledge, always searching for the cinematic style best suited to capture the insider’s point of view.
With demonstrated ability to enter worlds normally closed to outsiders, David Feingold and Shari Robertson have produced documentaries on unusually difficult people in infamously inaccessible places. Together they count some 50 years experience working in ethnography and film in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Latin America. Around Ophidian has formed an award-winning international of team cinematographers, production talent, and scholars.
The U.S. Congress and the British Parliament have recognized the importance of Feingold’s work with special screenings. Universities and libraries across the United States have purchased copies of programs for permenant collections, and the Association of Asian Studies, the Latin American Studies Association, the American Anthropological Association, the Asia Society and the National Press Club have sponsored special showings and discussions of his work.
Ophidian’s television documentary, Washington/Peru: We Ain’t Winning, was filmed in Peru and the United States. In addition, the team has produced fifteen documentaries and magazine features in Southeast Asia in the last decade. Subjects range from exclusive portraits of Khmer Rouge guerillas to the fight for cultural survival in a classical dance school on the Thai-Cambodian border to Indian archaeological conservators restoring Cambodia’s ancient temple of Angkor Wat to the tragic impact of landmines.