The Fifth Moscow International Festival of Visual Anthropology "Mediating Camera" was held from 20 to 24 of September. For ten years the festival has been organized by the Lomonosov Moscow State University and the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This year the Moscow City Interregional Relations and National Policy Committee and the Moscow House of Nationalities were also among the festival organizers.
Currently the "Mediating Camera" is the only festival in Russia, which consistently demonstrates documentary films of the authors, that not only try to reflect the bright palette of the cultural life of peoples all over the world, but work regarding the moral responsibility to the depicted human communities. Unlike the producers of TV programs and oriented on the audience success domestic documentary filmmakers, visual anthropologists try to create an adequate image of the cultural community, that entrusted itself to the attentive camera eye. As a rule, in creation of their works these people combine scientific knowledge with aesthetic and ethical notions. Their works intend to make possible the dialogue of cultures, to form mutual understanding and respect between different nationalities and religions, to prevent ethnic and religious conflicts.
The main purpose of the festival at the moment is the propagation of ideas and products of visual anthropology in humanitarian and pedagogical media and demonstration of its capabilities to the students, scholars and everybody engaged in various socio-cultural activities.
Out of more than 120 films received, 48 were included into the program of the last festival. Beside the films from the different regions of Russia there were works presented by countries of CIS, Eastern and Western Europe, Northern and Southern America, Asia and Africa, including such distant countries like Nepal, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago.
As usual, the significant part of the festival consisted of two special programs. This year they were devoted to films representing the cultures of China and South-Eastern Europe.
The discovery and the success of the festival became the film "Beside the River" directed by Liu Xiangchen. A story of life of a family living in a traditional way in the remote regions of the northwest China strikes us with the elegance and subtlety of the relationships between the heroes depicted. The immersion into the psychological world, difficult for the documentary filmmakers, was achieved by the author with great aesthetic skill and gentle tact.
Really popular among the audience was the film by Jana Richter about the gaucho subculture in Argentina, as well as the film by the Estonian filmmaker and anthropologist Liivo Niglas, dedicated to the rites of fertility in Mozambique, and the film about the Himba people, made by the well-known Russian politician and journalist Sergei Yastrzhembsky.
At the section "The Impulse from South-Eastern Europe" Professor Nasko Kriznar (Slovenia) presented five works of authors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovenia. Special attention was attracted to the film directed by Dragan Nikolic "The Caviar Connection", showing us a problematic life of fishermen of Danube, and the film by the Slovenian filmmaker Daniela Vavrova "Enet Yapai an Ambonwari Girl", that touched the audience with the tenderness and trust between the author and the little heroine from the village in Papua New Guinea.
Professor Nevenka Redzic Toth (University of Toronto, Canada; and University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia), held a seminar where she shared her great creative experience of transforming an audio-visual document into a piece of art.
Great success among the Russian scholars had the seminar of Professor Bjorn Arnsten from the School of Visual Anthropology at the University of Tromso (Norway), where specialists from different countries have been successfully trained for several years. From year to year the students from the School of Visual Anthropology win first prizes of the debut competition at the Moscow festival "Mediating Camera".
This year was not an exception - the first prize won the film "Echagh (The Well)" directed by Souleymane Diallo, a graduate student from Tromso. Currently Souleymane teaches visual anthropology at the University of Bomako in his homeland in Mali. The second prize won Ramesh Khadka from Nepal, with his film "Chhau (menstruation)". The third place was given to Eugenia Trifonova, a student of VGIK, the author of the film "Bride's Song".
Two more debut works were awarded with Special Prizes: the film "I will work hard" by Andrei Beregovenko, a professional psychologist working with the disabled children, and the film "Rehe, the Blacksmiths of Mogode" by the author from Cameroon Gamache Thomas Kodji, who also graduated from the School of Tromso.
At the scientific and practical conference experts in anthropology reported about the new researches using methods of visual anthropology; representatives of different disciplines exchanged opinions on problems and prospects of visual anthropology in the socio-cultural and educational practice.
The significant contribution to the last festival was the active participation of students from the Lomonosov Moscow State University and postgraduate students from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who translated all foreign films into Russian, became the interpreters and mediators of the discussions and participated in a variety of organizational tasks.
The festival organizers hope that this event will become another step in the popularization of ideas and materials of visual anthropology. In this regard, it is planned to hold several seminars and demonstrations of selected films from the festival in a number of Russian cities, including Samara, Izhevsk, Khanty-Mansiysk, Rostov, Omsk and Ufa.
We would like to thank the organizations, funds, online resources and publications, who had provided the festival with financial, technical and informational support: Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Faculty of Journalism at Lomonosov MSU, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Higher School of Translation at Lomonosov MSU, "Vne Vremeni" Foundation, OknoTV Inc., the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of Russia, news program of the "Kultura" TV channel, Social Development of International Links and Cooperation Fund "Good Neighbours", "Observatory of Culture" magazine, "Afisha" Publishing House, Internet mailing lists "Association of graduates of MSU", "Russian tradition", "Laboratory of Social Communication Faculty of Sociology at St. Petersburg State University"; site "Theory and Practice" and others.