Taking as a departure point events around the COVID-19 lockdown, when several festivals and conferences went online, and recent developments in digital publishing, we explore the present state and future directions of anthropological film distribution and their practical, ethical and political implications.
In this online round table discussion, we invite professionals involved in the distribution of anthropological films (festival organizers, journal editors and online community builders) to consider the future of film distribution in anthropology. Starting from an idea of “radical sharing”, our aim is to reconsider the role of festivals, databases and online publishing platforms in the distribution of audio-visual anthropology. Film festivals have long been an important venue for the distribution of anthropological films. Recently, digital infrastructures open up new possibilities for online exchange but also raise questions about issues of accessibility, collaboration, and power inequalities arising from the use of infrastructures designed for profit and control. How do such questions correspond with broader issues in anthropology, such as the demand for openly accessible knowledge, the growing academic precarity, issues of diversity and inequality, the scarcity of funding for the production of non-textual work, and renewed initiatives to promote the recognition of audio-visual productions as academic work?
This discussion on radical sharing started during an earlier online round table discussion (Vienna node #Distribute 2020 / Ethnocineca). During the COVID-19 lockdown, when theatres and university buildings were closed while film festivals and conferences went online, we were forced to consider a variety of possible distribution infrastructures for anthropological films and to consider their ethical and social implications. Now, we take the crisis as a starting point to look beyond it into the future of film distribution, to seriously rethink the ways in which anthropological films are being shared, within and beyond the academia.
Round table participants:
Alice Apley (Documentary Educational Resources)
Harjant S. Gill (Towson University/ #Distribute 2020 virtual film festival)
Fiona P. McDonald (University of British Columbia / #Distribute 2020 virtual film festival)
Margot Mecca (Festival dei Popoli)
Caterina Sartori (RAI Film Festival)
Hans Frode Storaas (University of Bergen / Journal of Anthropological Films)