The most recent publication of collected essays by David MacDougall is yet another milestone in his illustrious career that has uniquely combined ground-breaking film and thought-provoking writing.
Manchester University Press describes “The Art of the Observer” (2022) as “a personal guide to documentary filmmaking, based … extensively on concrete examples from the author's own filmmaking experience”. And for MacDougall this leads back to his particular emphasis on observational filmmaking and what makes this approach distinct from other forms of documentary. It is full of pragmatic insight and philosophical musing on the emotional and intellectual stakes of using film to represent the lives of others. In short, this is a collection of essays that will command the attention of all serious documentary filmmakers and lifelong students in the field visual anthropology.
David MacDougall will be joined by the filmmaker and film theorist, Prof Aparna Sharma (UCLA) and by the visual and media anthropologist Thomas John (FU Berlin & WWU Münster.
Aparna Sharma is a documentary filmmaker and film scholar, who works as Associate Professor at the Dept. of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, UCLA.. She works in India’s northeastern region, documenting cultural heritage and material culture practices. Her book-length study, Documentary Films in India: Critical Aesthetics at Work examines non-canonical documentary practices from India (2015). She is currently working on numerous projects, including a book length study based on oral histories with women from northeast India and a history of photography in northeast India with a practice-based component to develop sustainable media archives for the region. archives for the region.
Thomas John (FU Berlin & WWU Münster) is a visual and media anthropologist. Thomas co-developed and co-directs the Master Programme 'Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices' (WWU Münster). He taught anthropology-informed documentary filmmaking workshops at WWU Münster, FU Berlin and elsewhere. His interests lie in exploring with his students divers forms of audio-visual strategies, in particular sensory, collaborative and non-linear narrative approaches. Thomas' own current research is informed by affect theory and focuses on an indigenous filmmaker's scene in South-Mexico, investigating how local filmmakers "affect" people politically to negotiate ethnic belonging and Indigeneity in a multi-ethnic urban context.