Welcome to the festival

Welcome to all members of the visual anthropology community.

Film is about the expression and representation of the everyday lives of ordinary people and communities, both near and far. By watching and sharing time with other cultures on screen, and experiencing other peoples’ lives, we gain intimate access beyond our own daily life and world view.  This festival will be a feast of crossing cultural barriers and boundaries, stimulated and informed by the ethos and insights of anthropology and tourism studies.
In the past there has often been a fractious relationship between tourism and anthropology, particularly in the arena of film and television.  Travelogue, adventure, extreme sport and programming of the ‘wife swap’ genre engender a new breed of extreme tourism seeking, but rarely finding, an illusive insight into the lives of the ‘exotic other’. Cultural change, often degrading and occasionally destructive, is frequently the end-result.  Like it or not, as the era of cheap travel accelerates and anthropologically informed television documentary decelerates, the need to work together and effect change and cross-platform understanding becomes more urgent.  Tourism, as an engine of cultural change, and anthropology, as an engine of informed visual entertainment, need to come to terms with each other’s realities.  It is important that this 11th edition of the RAI’s International Festival of Ethnographic Film should be hosted by the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change at Leeds.  Besides screening the latest classics and the newest formats in visual anthropology, it is a chance to consider the use of the visual image in deepening our understanding of the human condition and establishing anthropologically informed ethics and values in filmmaking.
We are looking forward to a stimulating and energetic gathering of all people and peoples concerned with the visual cross-over, crossing and transgressing of cultural boundaries.

Mike Yorke

Chairman, RAI Film Festival Coordination Committee.

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

Our Sponsors

The Festival gratefully acknowledges sponsorship from: