Cinema-school and ethno-laboratory

Ivan Golovnev

Institute of History and Archeology of Ural - Russian Academy of Sciences - Yekaterinburg, Russia

Abstract. The paper is dedicated to the EthnoFilm educational project in the historical and modern context of visual anthropology. The EthnoFilm project intended as the educational ethnocultural initiative, aimed to attraction of interested youth to ethnographic research and video fixation of the unique cultural phenomena of the peoples of Arctic and Subarctic regions: Nenets, Khanty, Mansi, Komi. The first stage of the project, consisted of lectures and seminars, was considered as development of traditional positions of ethnography as well as visual forms of description of ethnic groups. The courses regarding film production, dramatic art, editing, filming were delivered. The basic attention was paid to individual lessons that had been related to working out of creative sketches and plans of realization of the future films as final works of project's participants. The central stage of the project was the “field film-school”, ethnographic and film practice in the form of expeditions towards the places of residence of the various indigenous communities. During the expeditions the ethnographic material has been gained and first editing of the received materials at portable montage studio has been made. Besides, the film draft version accompanied with a language translation and updating of film details has been showed to protagonists of shootings. This process involved into account the opinion of participants from the national environment. The final stage of the EthnoFilm project was considered as editing of the film almanac. Almanac’s films were united by a project's theme. On another hand, all the films were considered as individual works: the film’s style and content depended upon the chosen characters, environment and author's position.

Keywords. Ethnographic film, visual anthropology, Siberia, Urals

Historical review

The ethnographic cinema in Russia[1] has more than century long history. The first ethnographic filming and film sketches were made at the dawn of cinematography, at the very beginning of XX century. For example, a big film company Khanzhonkov and Co in Moscow, that produced variety of films (feature films, documentary films and cartoons), has made particular output of ethnographic films, which have become popular among spectators [Al’tshuler 1987]. The first of known experience of ethnofilm production is thought to be the film (not founded in film archives till nowadays), which illustrated episodes from a daily life of mountain peoples at Caucasus, filmed by the cinematographer V. Siversen on A. Khanzhonkov's initiative in 1908 [Zguridi 1983]. Commercial success of ethnofilms motivated the producer A. Khanzhonkov to organize the film expeditions to various territories of multinational Russia. However, ethnographic film production until 1920th has had incidental and episodic character.

After political revolution of 1917 in Russia the film production in the country has been nationalized: the Soviet power has became the film producer-monopolist in the country. Despite rigid state censorship, it was time (from the point of view of creativity) of origin and rapid development of “film-language”, styles and directions in cinema of USSR. Coupled with feature films, the documentary cinema, in particular, the so-called с ulturfilms (films about the peoples, the nature, geography, expeditions etc.) actively developed. This process co-existed with dispositions of Lenin's program theses about cinema as “a main kind of arts” as well as necessity of film production about daily life of all peoples of unbounded Soviet Union. Producer-state solved a problem of the uniting of all peoples of the USSR in films. In the second half 1920 – the beginning of 1930th the large scale state cinema project the Cinema-atlas of the USSR is assumed to be produce about 100 films by main Soviet film organizations has been planned [Lebedev 1965]. This initiative has given a powerful impulse to systematization of the activity in sphere of ethnographic film production, but the project, unfortunately, has failed.

The depiction of primordial national traditions of the separate peoples in culturfilms was considered to be not the essential, but, to a certain extent, simply dangerous phenomenon, that led to a damage of an arising brand of attractive socialist way of life of the peoples in Soviet Union. The overwhelming part of films had propaganda and ordering character and had the purpose to show the essential social and economic changes, which have improved life of the peoples of the USSR during the years of the Soviet power. Besides, one of the basic state purposes was the getting up of cultural and educational level of the spectators. Ethnographic films invariably had wide success among viewers, surpassed in popularity many feature entertaining films as well as action films. Spectators were amazed by daily life of other peoples and other territories, which would be seen at a cinema only.

The arise of popularity of ethno cinema comes to 20 – 30th of XX century. According to the statistical data, in 1925 in the USSR were made 70 culturfims, in 1930 — already 200 [Magidov 1998]. During this period the ethnographic films which have become the classic films of world cinema — The sixth part of the world by D. Vertov (1926), Roof of the World (1928) and Heart of Asia (1929) by V. Erofeev, Wood’s People (1929) and In the depths of Ussuriysk Region (1929) by A. Litvinov, Death Bottom (1928) and Ale-Yemen (1930) by V. Shneiderov, etc. — has been made [Deriabin 1999, 14-24].

Professional scientists were involved in production of culturfilms. The well-known scholar of the Far East V. Arsenyev advised director A. Litvinov in process of his filming work (Forest People, In the depths of Ussuriysk Region) and films about Kamchatka (Deer’s Rider) [Sarkisova 2015, 2-23]. The professor O. Schmidt took part in filming about Pamir Mountains Death Bottom by the director V. Shnejderov, etc (Figure n. 1).

Figure 1. From the "Forest People" film by A. Litvinov. 1928. Far East. A shot from the film-expedition of Alexander Litvinov.

However the ethnographic cinema failed to become the original professional laboratory. Firstly, the reason was the fact that the Ethnography (Ethnology) in the beginning 1930th has got lower, auxiliary status in comparison with History, which considered as main study course. Secondly, ethnic themes in cinema were under censorship of the totalitarian regime that excluded others forms, except “socialist in form and content” [Golovnev 2016, 83-98]. In second half of 1930th ethnographic films have erased within Soviet cinema production. Bureaucracy has separated ethnographers-scholars and cinematographers in two separate professional approaches.

The certain number of the ethnographic films was produced by film studios of the Soviet republics (almost each republic had the state film studio) as well as regional studios (Ural, Siberia, the Far East, etc.). But these works, in the bulk, also have been associated with popularization of a national policy in process of construction of uniform “Soviet nation” [Martin 2001] and consequently failed to become considerable events in the history of ethnographic cinema. After 1950th and up to disorder of the USSR ethnographic shootings had episodic and sporadic character. Ethnofilmfestival’s activity also hasn't been developed. Unique for multinational Soviet Union the ethnographic film festival since 1987 has been held in Pärnu (Estonia).

The gap between science (Ethnography) and cinema, put in the previous period, remains in present time. Examples of interaction between cinematographers and scientists are rare and occasional.

Modern Context

In the XXIst century the cinema, at least documentary, has lost superiority in sphere of audiovisual influence on an audience. Cinema without success aims at preserving its “identity” among refined cinema-goers, in small-scale space of cinema’s and museum’s halls. Virtual media empires actively compete between themselves aiming at attracting attention of spectators. The Internet, TV and computer industries use diverse flows of information and methods of psychological influence on audience. In a certain sense, these media technologies reach level of audiovisual dictatorship, making a choice for spectator: the reading (and actively imagining) person turns into the person of reading out (passive one). In media the term “format” is actively discussed, media content as well as consciousness of the consumer (the spectator, the listener, the user) is formatted. Coupled with getting up of mass-media influence, video and other digital technologies, availability of means of production of audiovisual products also has increased and broadened bounds for everyone. The amateur audiovisual production freely circulates within framework of digital web channels, instantly moving from one spot on the globe to any another.

Integration of Russia into universal civilization processes becomes more active and influence of the global phenomena (the Internet, digital television, etc) is growing up. New technologies change a modern reality, including the cultural one. Such processes have been especially important for youth as a mobile and active part of society. Many original phenomenon, traditions and languages of the peoples in Russia seem to dissolve before our eyes as a result of cultural innovations. On the one hand, central issue of cinema — time preservation — aims to fixation and popularization of ethnocultural relicts with active using of audio-visual technical resources. On the other hand, with the growth of video and other digital technologies, availability of tools for creation of audiovisual products has become unrestricted. Recording and the editing of the digital video and audio data becomes an ordinary everyday activity. Potential responsibility and a role of professionals from spheres of a science and cinema have increased in the given processes. Therefore the organization of educational actions and professional activity in sphere of documentary filmmaking are especially actual and necessary at present time. Within this context, one of the main objectives is to attract of young experts to the given kind of activity. It would be play positive role for development of contemporary documentary ethnographic cinema. The motivation of development of internal resources of a science and art as well as interaction between them is available.

“Film eye” and a ball pen

The ethnographic cinema in Russia is characterized now in terms of unorganized, sporadic activity that in many respects depends upon internal processes of transformation within an ethnography and cinematography as well as influence from non-professional external processes (social, cultural etc.).

Contemporary Russian ethnography in its research methodology tends to conservatism, using mainly traditional methods of research and description of the object, the subject, etc. It does experimental works but within the limits of a field of traditional scientific resources, paradigms, language. The given traditionalism attributes to forms of presentation of results and outcomes of research practices. Contrary to dispositions of scientific community, audio-visual, multimedia and other neo-technologies nevertheless overcome borders of a scientific world. Text methods exist in contradiction with state-political policy aimed to innovation as well as general visual disposition of recipients. The “language” of mutual relations in the society is considerably changed. It is served by technical recourses, rapidly developed. It becomes synthetic, audio-visual-textually.

It would be inadequate in the near future to see transformation of text system (with using of ball pen and a notebook) and the organization of a scientific data (articles or books) into audiovisual forms. But digital technologies can play considerable role today for researcher as useful and effective tool for fixation of data. We can describe in a truly way the object of mode of life, the design of costume, but we can not depict adequately the ritual. In a case of examining of the spiritual culture and indigenous lifestyles it is important to drew special attention to intonation of the voice, plasticity of movements, expression of eyes of the people. The ethnographer, field researcher deals with living culture, with culture as process, with culture “in movement”. Interaction of the researcher with the informant aims to creation of the source, in which retranslation of information is considerably important. Audiovisual source appears to be more reliable from the point of view of documentation because it allows to depict actual content of ethnographic “dialogue” as well as its figurative-emotional context. Therefore, especially with reference to documenting of the disappearing phenomena of traditional cultures, it is possible and it is necessary to use cinema possibilities as means of reliable depiction of cultures in time. Audiovisual technologies are actual for use of research materials in presentation. Ethnographic cinema can be used for articulation of information levels inexpressible verbally. But in Russia the given approach still remains the underestimated resource.

In turn, the modern cinema is technically updated and reconstructed. But technical progress is often superior to the creative one. Today before our eyes digital revolution realizes the desires of the Fathers-founders of world documentary cinema. Dziga Vertov [Vertov 2004] in his film experiences is critical in regard to noisy cinematographic equipment. Robert Flaherty, by traveling towards hard-to-reach places of residing of various native communities in search of “true-image” (R.Flaherty's term) [Flaherty 1980], had to use a bulky film studio. Jean Rouch dreamed of the silent hand-camera, capable to write long pieces of the image with a synchronous sound, without leaving “cinema-trance” (J. Rouch's term) [Rouch 2003].

Now, when technique has become simpler in use, the creative thought of authors is the same as in the past. Often old-kind movie camera mechanically is replaced by a modern digital video camera and filmmakers go on to use it without changing the film methods. In documentary filmmaking this process is expressed by means of saving of a “distance” between the author and the protagonist(s) of film as if an invisible wall separates them from each other.

Obvious, the digital equipment has another scale of potential resources, not only in the technical plan, but also in sense of creative innovations in digital film production. One of advantages of new techniques is possibility of intimate contact in a triad: the character – the author – the spectator. Episodes of television films about animals and the Nature demonstrate the high quality of technical tools: the silent digital camera flies in the sky, filming the flight of wild birds; gets into depths of the underwater world; close up the grimaces of a mosquito and express other miracles of the live world. Similar atomic observation of the human being life would be following step to development of the given experiments. Or such anthropological naturalism won't pass censorship? However, quite probably that technical progress will bring into the world in the near future the camera, which will be simulate the main characteristics of human sight, the device, defined as "film eye" (D. Vertov’s term).

The description of the EthnoFilm project

These aspects have been brought into focus of the EthnoFilm project — the educational ethno-cultural initiative, aiming to attraction of interested youth to ethnographic research and video fixation of the unique cultural materials of the peoples of Russia [Golovnev 2011, 46] .

Within the EthnoFilm project complex educational program: theoretical courses and a practical training are realized.

The first stage of the project, consisted of lectures and seminars, is considered as development of traditional positions of ethnography as well as visual forms of description of ethnic groups. Within the given stage lectures and seminars, regarding film production and based on dramatic art, editing, filming are delivered. The special attention is given to seeing of classical and modern films regarding ethnographic topics, made by authors from the different countries of the world in various periods of time. Within the theoretical course the basic attention is paid to individual lessons related to working out of creative sketches and plans of realization of the future films as final works of project's participants.

The central stage of the project is the “field film-school” supposing ethnographic and film practice in the form of expeditions towards the places of residence of the various peoples. During expeditions the ethnographic material regarding creation of the future film is fixed and first editing of the received materials at portable montage studio is made. Besides, the draft variant of a film is shown to protagonists of shootings, accompanying with a language translation and updating of details of a film. This process takes into account the opinion of participants from the national environment.

The final stage of the EthnoFilm project is considered as editing of the film almanac. Films are united by a project theme, external issues (using of text inserts in films etc.), uniform film’s duration. In the same time, all the films are considered as individual works; their style and content depend upon the chosen characters, environment, and author's individual position.

Methodology of the EthnoFim project

“Learning by doing” is the basic methodological principle of the EthnoFilm project. Solving of practical tasks for training of professional skills in the fields of ethnography and a filmmaking at all stages of the project provides the best knowledge of theoretical issues, optimizing the general educational effect.

The basic methods of carrying out of actions of the project are assumed to be theoretical lessons (lectures, individual work, film's screenings) and practical training (special practical tasks, seminars, filmmaking works within the field film school, editing of almanac' films).

The special emphasis within the EthnoFilm project will be on an individual responsibility of each of the participants of the project regarding creation of a qualifying film for the final film almanac.

Master-classes of professionals from field of science and cinema are an important element for making up of creative atmosphere within the project. In turn, consultations with representatives of the ethnic organizations are developed elements of creative laboratory at film school.

Final works of the project, almanac of films, can be used by film festivals (in form of special screenings), scientific meetings (in form of presentation), etc, what would be additional motivation to qualitative presentation of films, creatively-competitive stimulus for participants of the project as well as tool which provides their initial integration into professional community.

The main sphere for the popularizations of the materials and the films of the EthnoFilm project is the educational system (Universities, Schools, etc.)

Components of the EthnoFilm project

The basic components of the EthnoFilm project are following: educational, research, creative, innovative.

The educational component of the EthnoFilm project is thought of as system of theoretical courses and a practical training within the programs of the project. Lecturers and advisers of the EthnoFilm project are professional ethnographers and filmmakers. Project seeks to develop actions connected with technical and intellectual issues and demands professional skills and knowledge. The main educational objective of the EthnoFilm project is transition of professional knowledge from experts to students.

The research component is assumed to explore one of the main issues of the project: studying of cultures of the peoples, gathering and systematization of the theoretical and field ethnographic data pertaining to the general themes of the project. The EthnoFilm project also seeks to create digital ethnographic archive of audio, photo and video data.

The creative component means consideration in terms of creativity of the important social, cultural, intercultural and other issues caused by project's themes.

The innovative component of the EthnoFilm project is supposed to use progressive digital audio and video equipment in the process of realization of actions of the project, first of all, with aim to create of the almanac of ethnographic films. Besides, a project innovation seeks to introduce of the created films, audio records and photos into digital media space including the Internet resources. Thus, widespread popularization of the project data is achieved both in regard to experts and mass audience.

Creative principles of the EthnoFilm project

1. The period of examination of a theme, exploring of the characters, details of surrounding them reality is supposed to be preliminary stage to the shootings. A research stage plays an important role in process of creating of ethnographic films, being an integral part of it. Personal experience of the author in relation to theme also is an important condition for film creating;

2. Rejection of the certain screenplay as schemes for creation of a documentary ethnographic film;

3. Minimization of the author's intervention in actions of the main character and his environment during creating of the film, non-interference into depicting of natural order of events;

4. Following to a rhythm of existence of the protagonist within a film scene in process of shooting and editing;

5. The basic method of a filmmaking work lies in the field of film-observation. Long-term careful film-observation theoretically can cover the activity of the character during various seasons. At the same time, long film supervision allows us to achieve more confidential mutual relations with the character of the film;

6. Telling the film-story, first of all, through language of screening: that is told, but isn't shown — “does not reach" the spectator”;

7. The minimum role of music and other soundtracks, carrying out decorative function. A basis of a film soundtrack is the “sounding reality”;

8. Co-existence of research and cinema skills for ethnic filmmakers is supposed to be crucial element.

9. Ethical and moral responsibility of the author before the character and the spectator of an ethnographic documentary film;

10. The ethnographic documentary cinema cannot be considered as further direct development of scientific research, supposed as a story about the peoples, cultures, the communities, and persons and depicted them by means of film-language. Being a sort of documentary, ethnographic documentary cinema, on the other hand, should be studied from the point of view of ethnography.

Film as a story

Essential creative principle of the EthnoFilm project is representation of ethnographic cinema as a form of a storytelling — a visual storytelling. It is assumed to have strong motivation to shoot a film regarding this or that theme, to tell story by means of film-language. For example, if the story is telling in the text more properly, there is no sense to shoot it. And, on the contrary, uniqueness of other story can be expressed only by means of visual methods.

The story in documentary cinema is a development of the object (the character, a situation) in process of time, within screen space, inside a shot. Thus, the film story is thought of as movement from one point to another, from the beginning to the end [Gardner 2006].

The film begins in the author’s mind. To presuppose the future film, to create it, to make other efforts are considered to be acts of author's activity. Documentary ethnographic film is also author's creation; the choice of a theme, style, the character, etc. is authorship. The choice of a place of shooting or choice of the content of a shot is the author’s creativity as well. An editing process — the same. Any documentary film isn't viewed as simple fixation of reality; in fact it is its interpretation. Everybody tells his story about this or that event, the phenomenon, the character.

The culture is a movement. Film — an image of movement. The camera seeks to grasp and save not a reality as that, but the image of a reality. However, it is the documentary cinema is the most realistic image of a reality.

In the same sense it is necessary to speak not about an objective picture of a reality, not about truth, which the documentary cinema can't express by the nature, but about peculiar truth in cinema or “film-truth” (here: not in direct meaning of Vertov's term). In this case, it is a question of authenticity of themes, style, screening of events, the character, etc., in which the film story is told. Within this context, film directing is considered as creating of harmony of various elements of a film.

Experience of the filmmaker in relation to story should be superior to spectator's one. It is uninteresting to listen to the stories told by the person, who knows less you about a subject. This is territory of the responsibility of the author. In turn, the spectator's perception is in many respects based on the stereotypes, one of which is the principle of reading of a film as stories.

EthnoFilm teaching

The modern educational system in Russia is characterized by form and content transformation. Introduction of progressive humanitarian technologies in educational processes, including audiovisual, is thought to be constructive approach of development of new educational standards.

In this situation necessity of media educational processes, participation of scientific and art professionals in training of analytic skills and creation of audio-visual products, in particular within research practice, has become actual.

Any film has educational function, it teaches the spectator. The film can carry out applied function in the course of teaching, it can be considered as additional illustrative material related with a certain theme. There is also a specialized direction of educational cinema, widespread in educational actions as well as experience of application of educational films for distant teaching. It is necessary to notice that the films created in the educational purposes are assumed to use initially specific approach to working out of its screenplays. This approach consistently defines the specific character of the production process, up to methods and forms of presentation of the results.

Educational disciplines and the courses connected with themes of ethnofilm and visual anthropology is extremely unusual and rare events in the Russian university programs. Only several educational and research centers use theoretical and practical programs on visual anthropology and ethnographic cinema.

Target audience of the EthnoFilm project is students of humanitarian faculties of universities. As a rule, preliminary experience of students in the field of ethnography and (or) cinema (video-/photo) shooting is highly supportive for participation in the project.

The basic difficulties related with training of students stems in process of translation verbal plots to visual language for filming. Visual and verbal, film and text, a shot and a word are key parameters of specific character of “languages”. Ethnographic film is considered to be the special form of ethnographic depiction, parameters of that are defined by a science and art. To address different aspects of relationship between ethnography and cinematography, the ethnofilm represents new synthetic language. Thus, the direction of ethnographic cinema needs to be considered not as the version of opposition of different “languages”, but as the phenomenon of constructive interaction of audiovisual and text resources in research processes. Effective experience of the decision of such problems can be brought from the system of practical exercises: making the storyboards, filming the shorts, experiments during the editing the film scenes. So, at a stage of works on “the festivities” theme we practiced creation of storyboards before shootings. For example, when we were filmed Shabbat, which is considered to be the “closed” ritual, passing in the small room, we had to solve the problem of adequate visualization of this specific action. Experience of the author in observation and participation in such ceremonies was not enough. The key to storyboard creation, and then to ritual filming has been found in a historical “source” – in a Torah. There we have found out the detailed and visible description of the ritual: from introduction characteristics of a conditional premise (long shot), arrangements of participants of ritual (panorama), to “schedule” of the ritual, when the person stays in the center of the room and says a prayer (close up), where we can see the candle (detail) etc. Thus, the historical (ethnographic) source, besides the actual information, often contains key parameters of filming in detail of certain action (Figure n. 2).

Figure 2. The still from the film "Shabbat" of the almanac "EtnoFilm", filmed in Yekaterinburg City at a weekly ceremony in the Jewish community "Atikva".

Other example is the film-making task Self-portrait for The EthnoPortraits theme. Self-presentation in a short film-story is the training of making decisions of the future film about other characters. We proposed the creative open space for the author’s decision of The portraits topic: it could be the portrait of the person, group, a place etc. But it was necessary to create such portrait “in volume”, in different dimensions: cultural, social and individual etc. Work with such theme has demanded long terms and overcoming of certain difficulties. As it is known, camera’s presence changes behavior of person [MacDougall 2006]. Long accustoming of the author and the character to each other for softening of effect of distortion of mutual relations in a reality was required. Scientific competence of filmmaker in the themes connected with culture of protagonists of a film [Heider, 2006] as well as ability and desire to listen, observe, the valid and interested relation to characters of a film were highly supportive (Figure n. 3).

Figure 3. Still from the EthnoFilm almanac. Mari traditional holiday Agapayrem. Filmed in Mariyskie Korshy village, Ural Mountains.

During the project, we have come to conclusions that there are no universal recipes for “preparation” of ethnofilm. There is an infinite set of unique cases. All depends on the chosen characters, their culture and an environment, and also ability of the director to feel the surrounding “atmosphere” of this reality and to broadcast it through a film. The ethnofilmmaker should be able to be to feel the filming culture. When he “arrives” from other system of coordinates and values, with other perception of time for filming the ethnostory, it is necessary to adapt for a new reality before starting the shootings, feel its a rhythm, characters of protagonists, etc. This influenced on harmony of filmmaker and film’s object.

EthnoFilm project’s themes

For the first film series we planned an effective theme, which would help the project to debut expressively. From the point of view of ethnography, the festivity or ritual — is a phenomenon of concentration of ethnic and traditional features. From the point of view of filming, festivity is the cinematic “plastically” action. The festivity is situational in time and space, it is convenient to film and show it as mini story, as the completed action. There are many nationalities possessing original calendars of traditional festivities live in Urals and Siberia. With consultations of representatives of local ethnic communities we worked out the plan of action and made organizational preparation for film production related to each of films (Figure n. 4).

Figure 4. Agapairem – the Mari traditional festivity of a plow. The still from of the almanac EtnoFilm, filmed in the Urals – in the village Bolshaya Tavra of Ural region.

Each of students was responsible for film creation about the chosen festivity. Sometimes the choice of festivity depended on its ethnic origin, for example, the Tatar person filmed the story about the Tatar festivity, Russian about Russian, the Jew about Jewish etc. In other cases the choice based on of research experience and knowledge filmmaker about filming culture and personal preferences.

After presentation of the Festivities film-almanac we decided to seek to explore more difficult the Ethnoportraits topic. Then additional point: “young people by eyes of young” was added, what is considered to be important for conducting dialogue of authors and their characters “within one generation”, contemporaries of different nationalities. It has allowed us to be focused on modern condition of “ethno”.


During the period from 2007 to 2008 the EthnoFilm project was focused on a theme Traditional festivities of the peoples of Ural Mountains and Siberia [].

According to project plan, the filmmaking period has been localized in frameworks from June till August, what has allowed us to draw particular attention on summer ceremonial calendar of the peoples of Urals and Siberia. In period of carrying out of theoretical courses and a practical training a preliminary work, regarding plan of the future shootings, was conducted as well as studying of the ethnographic literature, consultations with representatives of national communities, individual lessons with participants of the project. As a result, by the time of the beginning of a stage of field film-school, the schedule of filmmaking has been approved, according to dates of national festivities and geography of their carrying out.

Within the stage of field film-school we have explored celebratory ceremonies as well as the everyday life. Peculiarity of such work was that the festivity as the phenomenon is situational and limited in time. Thus, the important organizing moment in work was dealt with the fact that knowledge itself was formed in process of research. It helped to work more confidently in filming of episodes, replacing each other, during leaving event-festivity.

On the basis of ethnographic field research and the gained audiovisual materials, the films, devoted to celebratory and ceremonial culture among the various peoples of the Ural and Siberian region were created.


In 2009 — 2010 the new theme entitled as EthnoPortrait has been entered into the project. It assumes that there is a concrete character in thematic focus of a film. At the same time, variants of the theme in different directions also are possible: the family portrait, a group portrait, a place portrait, a self-portrait, etc.


The specific feature of such work within the limits of the given theme is necessity of volume screening of a portrait of the protagonist. In a framework of documentary film story three levels of the information allow to us to understand character with necessary completeness: physical shape, a psychological image, life in a social environment. The protagonist in the given film portrait can be mediator for replying on different ethnic questions. However, the main principle of the EthnoFilm project dealt with attention, first of all, to the individual, and through him, with other levels of a narration (Figure n. 5).

Figure 5. Komi girl. Still from the almanac "EtnoFilm". Filmed in the Komi-Permyak Autonomous region, in the village Bolshaya Kocha.

The «Laboratory» of the EthnoFilm project

Seasonal prevalence of actions of the EthnoFilm project in many respects is connected with organizational, financial and other issues without which carrying out of theoretical courses, field expeditions, production of films, etc. are appear to be under the question.

Now organizers of the project develop the additional directions of activity aimed to transformation of the EthnoFilm project into a scientific and creative long-term approach:

— The organization of the workgroup within the project that is engaged in development of activity of the EthnoFilm project itself as well as ethnographic filmmaking as professional occupation;

— Creation of club-film-laboratory where, besides screening and discussion of actual ethnographic films, development of ideas, methods, creative principles, film sketches for the future seasons of the EthnoFilm project is planned. Here is need to develop special discussions pertaining to films – in – progress (initial materials, draft editing etc.). The laboratory can involve scientists, filmmakers, representatives of the national-cultural organizations, student's youth, other participants potentially interested in the given project.

Two seasons of the EthnoFilm project (2007-2008 and 2009-2010) have been organized in territories of Urals and the North of Western Siberia, almanacs of the short documentaries which have been filmed among the Bashkirs, Komi, Mansi, Mari, Nenets, Russians, Tatars, Khanty peoples are created.

In carrying out of actions of the project, besides professionals of a science and filmmaking, persons from local ethnic communities also participated. Introduction of the given project into regular educational course at Ural Federal University (Ekaterinburg), transformation of the project into the part of program: education – practice – presentation (festival-forum) is work-in-progress.

These, and some adjacent forms of activity (festivals, conferences, etc.) aim to perspective methodological, thematic and geographical development of actions and scales of the «EthnoFilm» project.

The field of activity of the ethnographic cinema is infinitely powerful and fragile. It considered the unique cultures of the peoples that are in constant movement. The mission of the «EthnoFilm» project is saving and popularization of cultural legacy of different peoples.


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A filmography

The «EthnoFestivities» almanac:

1. The Raven’s Day, 2008, 8 min, Ivan Golovnev.

2. Russian Knights, 2008 8 min, Anatoly Kurlaev.

3. Sabbat, 2008, 8 min, Lubov Timeeva.

4. Welcome to Sabantui, 2008, 8 min, Ramil Nigmatulin.

5. Agapairem, 2008, 8 min, Elena Semenova.

6. Religious procession, 2008, 8 min, Anna Petkevich.

7. The day of the grass change, 2008, 8 min, Maria Aristova.

The «EthnoPortraits» almanac:

1. Vaiseku (A husband), 2010, 15 min, Ivan Golovnev.

2. The lesson of Russian language, 2010, 15 min, Pavel Tikhonov.

3. Narine. 2010. 15 min, Lubov Timeeva.

4. Uderem (A daughter), 2010, 15 min, Aleksei Petrov.

5. The root, 2010, 15 min, Anatoly Kurlaev.

6. Gorto (Home), 2010, 15 min, Maria Aristova.

7. Itkul lake, 2010, 15 min, Yulia Khairova.

[1] This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) as part of project 17-06-00119.


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