This year we are holding the 13th RAI Film Festival in Edinburgh, for the first time outside England. But the films in the festival beckon us way beyond the UK and give you, the audience, the opportunity to travel all over the globe and experience people, places and cultures in great intimacy. In a few hours you can see and hear people and events who the film makers have taken weeks, months, years, even decades to record.  We can follow their subjects’ problems, aspirations and actions from start to finish and we can get to know almost personally the key people, their families and their ways of life. This is the unique beauty of ethnographic film, its ability to transport us from springtime in Edinburgh to the inner thoughts and actions of people living in entirely different cultural and geographical environments around the world.

Our festival this year is also breaking new ground organisationally. We are normally hosted by a single academic institution but this year our hosts are three Scottish University Departments of Anthropology and the National Museums Scotland. And a new partnership agreement with the Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Southern California will allow an audience in LA to share our film experience in a couple of months. With this broad collaboration we move beyond academic visual anthropology to a broader audience and to enhance their experiences we have arranged a series of workshops exploring themes as diverse as the relationship between anthropology and art, the use of animation in story-telling and the role of film extracts in museum displays.

We are looking forward to a four day feast of superb viewing, stimulating discussion and fascinating exploration of many diverse topics relating to visual anthropology. I hope very much you will be able to join us for this ground-breaking event.

Howard Reid

Chairman, RAI Film Festival Coordination Committee


Organised 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 will be held from Thursday 13 June to Sunday 16 June 2013 in Edinburgh, hosted by National Museums Scotland and the STAR consortium. Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) is a collaboration between the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St. Andrews. Over 60 new films will be screened alongside a conference 'New Observations' and a selection of special events and workshop about art & anthropology and the use of archival film.

The RAI Film Festival is held in collaboration with the Center for Visual Anthropology, University of Southern California.

Our Sponsors

The Festival gratefully acknowledges sponsorship from:

UDDA NMS SSGS ED Unversity of Aberdeen StAndrews WILEY