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Anthropological film festival opens

Gannet hunters from Lewis, the last teenager in a remote Greenland village, and an Indian family that can stop the rain are among the stars of a documentary film festival opening in Edinburgh this week.

The prestigious Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) International Festival of Ethnographic Film, which captures how humanity lives and expresses itself across the globe, is coming to Scotland for the first time.

International gathering

Directors and documentary experts will descend on Edinburgh from 13-16 June as more than 60 films from 30 countries will be screened at the University of Edinburgh and the National Museum of Scotland.

Now in its 13th year, the festival presents the finest contemporary ethnographic films in the world.

From Tibetan mountains to Amazonian forests

The films are varied in length, style and subject. They include a snapshot of Syria before its descent into civil war and the tale of the Indian village where the world’s unwanted clothes go to be unravelled.

The festival also features a film that documents the ritual of sky burial in Tibet - where vultures eat the exposed body on the mountain top - and uses it as a metaphor for the current political situation.

Another tells the story of a Christian missionary who travelled to the Amazon only to be converted by the local tribe.

One film, A Boat Retold, was made by Dr Louise Milne from Edinburgh College of Art. It chronicles the relationship between poetry, song and the sea in the Hebrides.

New Observations

Alongside the films, the University has organised a programme of events, entitled New Observations, featuring debates, conversations and seminars that explore the relationship between anthropology, art and film.

These events explore issues such as how to film spirits and whether animation can be used in the documentary genre.

These films not only represent the best of anthropology in the rigour of their ethnographic work but also display the creativity, poetry, and beauty of anthropological work. We at the University of Edinburgh are proud and excited to be presenting these films in the festival.

Dr Richard BaxstromLecturer in social anthropology

Jointly hosted

The festival is hosted by National Museums Scotland and social anthropology at the University of Edinburgh as part of Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR), which includes the Universities of Aberdeen and St. Andrews.

I'm delighted we will showcase new filmic talent from across the world here at the National Museum of Scotland. It is exciting to be able to highlight the contemporary nature of our interests and research, and the enduring relevance of the fascinating collections that we hold.

Henrietta LidchiKeeper of World Cultures, National Museums Scotland

Buy tickets

The four-day festival is open to the public. Tickets for individual film screenings at the University venues will be available on the day for £5.00 at the registration desk located in the Chrystal Macmillan Building in George Square.

Tickets for the screenings at the National Museum of Scotland Auditorium are available for half day blocks only at £10.00. They can be bought via the National Museums Scotland website, at their ticket desk or during the festival at the Chrystal Macmillan Building registration desk.