Film Is The Tool And Ethnography

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“In ethnographic film, film is the tool and ethnography is the goal.”[2] The film is the bridge that engages the audience, connecting them to a foreign realm, whether it be on the academic or entertainment level. Ethnography is a way for viewers to understand not only the customs of foreign individuals and cultures, but to explore their own traditions as well. Through film, the director decides whether or not to appeal to a designated audience. In the interest of aesthetic perception, films are prone to suffer from “reality-distorting techniques,”[2] altering what should be shown, creating a conventional way of viewing other cultures. In a way, films guide their audiences through how to perceive different ways of life, which causes social categorization. Ultimately, film might be one of the only ways for people to understand what lies beyond the interest of their own culture without physically injecting themselves into a foreign environment. A problem films face is this checklist perception of how Westernized cultures view other cultures. As Heider put it, by focusing on how the cinematographic aspects of film should be portrayed, film directors tend to stray away from the accuracy of the cultures presented.[2] For example in Lost in translation, the film purposefully included scenes of the Japanese people as having a short-stature, being soft spoken, reading manga, being professional arcade players and having trouble pronouncing their l’s. These scenes illustrates how
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