Roger Sandall's Films and Contemporary Anthropology

Roger Sandall's Films and Contemporary Anthropology

Explorations in the Aesthetic, the Existential, and the Possible
Lorraine Mortimer
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 09/12/2019
Format: Paperback 30 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-04397-9
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In Roger Sandall's Films and Contemporary Anthropology, Lorraine Mortimer argues that while social anthropology and documentary film share historic roots and goals, particularly on the continent of Australia, their trajectories have tended to remain separate. This book reunites film and anthropology through the works of Roger Sandall, a New Zealand–born filmmaker and Columbia University graduate, who was part of the vibrant avant-garde and social documentary film culture in New York in the 1960s. Mentored by Margaret Mead in anthropology and Cecile Starr in fine arts, Sandall was eventually hired as the one-man film unit at the newly formed Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies in 1965. In the 1970s, he became a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Sydney. Sandall won First Prize for Documentary at the Venice Film Festival in 1968, yet his films are scarcely known, even in Australia now. Mortimer demonstrates how Sandall's films continue to be relevant to contemporary discussions in the fields of anthropology and documentary studies. She ties exploration of the making and restriction of Sandall's aboriginal films and his nonrestricted films made in Mexico, Australia, and India to the radical history of anthropology and the resurgence today of an expanded, existential-phenomenological anthropology that encompasses the vital connections between humans, animals, things, and our environment.

Author Bio

Lorraine Mortimer is Honorary Associate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney and has taught in Sociology/Anthropology and Cinema Studies. She is the translator of Edgar Morin's The Cinema or The Imaginary Man: An Essay in Sociological Anthropology and author of Terror and Joy: The Films of Dušan Makavejev.

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Table of Contents



1. Trusting the Material: Maíz (1962)

2. Environments Fit for the Spirit: The Flahertys, Sandall, and some Anarchist Anthropology

3. They Were Still Participants: The Ritual Films (1966-1976)

4. The Colors of the Infinite: Camels and the Pitjantjara (1969)

5. "What You Thinkin' About, Little Horse?": Coniston Muster: Scenes from a Stockman's Life (1972)

6. Harmony and Fire: Making a Bark Canoe (1969) and Ngatjakula: A Walbiri Fire Ceremony (1967 and 1977)

7. More Optional and More Fragile: Weddings (1976)

8. In the Floating Desert with Jayasinhji Jhala Part 1: The Tragada Bhavai: A Rural Theater Troupe of Gujarat (1981), A Zenana: Scenes and Recollections (1982), and The Bharvad Predicament (1987)

9. In the Floating Desert with Jayasinhji Jhala Part 2: Close Encounters of No Kind (2002), and Nomads

A (Relative) Conclusion

Appendix I: Roger Sandall's Filmed Material Held at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Appendix II: Roger Sandall's Films Made (Produced, Directed and Edited), Film Awards, and Special Screenings

Appendix III: Innovation in Sound Recording Made During the Filming of the AIAS Ritual Films According to David MacDougall

Appendix IV: Availability of Sandall's Non-Restricted Films