Reflections on an Ethnographic Film Festival

My friend and I slunk into the auditorium showing Kivalina because the line for a workshop held by a prominent filmmaker was tailing back into the café area and we didn’t have a hope in hell of getting in. But that’s the magic of serendipity. Turns out Kivalina was well worth the compromise as the film […]

Trump’s Wall and the Dictator Aesthetic

Well, look, we’re going to have a border. It’s going to be a real border, and we’re going to build a wall and it’s going to be a serious wall. Just remember that. And you remember I said it…. It’s going to be a serious wall. It’s going to be a real wall. It’s not going to […]

Grounded Dreams?

Hong Kong and Hollywood face the challenges of a globalizing movie economy. Hortense Powdermaker’s analysis of a Hollywood movie industry driven by extreme uncertainty, anxiety, and crisis in Hollywood, the Dream Factory (1950), remains just as relevant to today’s industry marked by increasing post-Fordist production and globalization. The offshoring of production jobs from the dream […]

Watching Movies in Ghana

Re-presenting the stuff of dreams and invisible forces, films feed the popular imagination. “It’s true, it’s true. All these things happen, all these things happen in real life. In reality,” Paulina, a fan of Ghanaian movies, told me at the beginning of my research on Ghana’s emergent local film industry in the fall of 1996. […]

Film for Good

Can cinema produce social justice? Six decades separate the #OscarsSoWhite movement and the publication of Hortense Powdermaker’s ethnography on Hollywood’s inner workings Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers (1950). Yet Powdermaker’s analysis presents a clear diagnosis of the structures the contemporary movement struggles against. Powdermaker writes about the power of the […]