10:00, Wednesday 01st July, Theatre C

This event is the first in a series of collaborative events hosted by the Louis Le Prince Centre for Film, Photography & Television at theInstitute of Communications Studies, University of Leeds and the Leeds International Film Festival. It is funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund.

Taiwanese Ethnographic Documentaries

The morning session is an introduction to recent Taiwanese ethnographic documentaries and will include a screening of Wang Chung-Sung’s evocative film The Rhythm in Wulu Village. (2003). It will be introduced by Professor Gary Rawnsley, Director of the Institute of Communications Studies and Professor of Asian International Communications, University of Leeds.

Synopsis: Wulu Village is a Bunun indigenous settlement located in a remote eastern mountainous region of Taiwan. The Bunun are famous among Taiwan’s indigenous groups for their polyharmonic choral singing, and almost all Bunun songs are in this style. In 1952, Japanese musicologist Takatomo presented the Bunun song “Tribute to Having a Good Harvest” (also known “Pasibutbut,” a song in the style of an octophonic chorus) To The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation. With its complex polyharmonic arrangement, “Pasibutbut” overturned Western musicologists’ theory that music was originally monotone, progressed to bitonality, and finally achieved polytonality.

Similar to many other indigenous peoples around the world, the Bunun are now faced with the danger that their culture and traditions will gradually disappear. Fearing that such indigenous cultures will eventually be lost, director Chun-hsiung Wang came to Wulu, trying to find answers to his many questions by interviewing local people. Over the course of filming these interviews, the director found his beliefs challenged and his heart moved.

Colonialism and the Archive

The second half of the day is dedicated to examining the role of archival collections of colonial cinema in the representation and historicisation of colonialism. It will also consider the current status of these films and what role they now play in the construction of national identities and colonial histories.

The afternoon session will explore this theme through two guided screenings and a concluding round table discussion chaired by Professor Nicholas Pronay, Emeritus Professor in the Institute of Communications, University of Leeds.

Screening 1: Colonial Film: Moving Images of the British Empire

Members of this AHRC funded project will introduce a selection of films from the British Film Institute, Imperial War Museum and British Empire and Commonwealth Museum.

Screening 2: Colonial Films in the Nederlands Film Archive.

Archivist Nico De Klerk will present a selection of films from the Nederlands Film Archive Collection. The presentation will focus on the work of filmmaker J.C. Lamster and his association with the Colonial Institute.

Roundtable discussion (Chair: Prof. Nicholas Pronay)

An invited panel discusses the issues raised in the presentations with the audience. Members of the panel include Nicholas Pronay (chair), Nico de Klerk, Simon Popple, Leo Enticknap, Ian MacDonald.

Louis le Prince Centre The Centre was established in 2002 to provide a focus for research covering the interdisciplinary relationships between history, theory and practice in the production and consumption of cinema, photography and television. The Centre facilitates and encourages collaborative research and also organises symposia and media events. It is based at the Institute of Communication Studies at the University of Leeds (contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

The Leeds International Film Festival
(LIFF) is the largest film festival in England outside London. Held in November at various venues of Leeds, it shows over 200 films from around the world. It mixes commercial and independent work with a special focus on short films. It is now in its 23rd year.

The RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film is a biennial event that brings together the global cutting edge in ethnographic film-making. Drawing in international film-makers, broadcasters, academics and a non-specialist audience, it is one of the leading global gatherings in the UK that celebrates critical film-making and discusses the relationships between film, visual culture, and the promotion of cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialogue. In 2009 it is being hosted by the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change and the Northern Film School at Leeds Met University.


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About this Festival

Sponsored by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland (RAI) since 1985, it is an itinerant festival that moves biennially from one university host to another, in association with local community and cultural organisations.

The festival was held from Wednesday July 1st to Saturday July 4th 2009, and included over 50 hours of screenings of new films, a major international conference, and a targeted selection of events focusing on anthropological ethics in filmmaking, youth participatory film, and archiving ethnographic film.

Read more about the RAI 2009 festival

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