Manakamana

06/02/2014

USA / 2013 / Nepali & English

Directed by Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez

Still from 'Manakamana'I notice when using the camera that, although he is not at all self-conscious, there is a faint suggestion of concern in the midst of his cordiality that whoever will see what he is doing will acknowledge his performance… I suppose his performance constitutes borderline acting but I cannot think this in any way subverts the process by which the camera finds significant expression.

– Robert Gardner, diary entry from June 21st 1981. Reprinted in The Impulse to Preserve

Since Gardner’s and Jean Rouch’s day, meta-ethnography has come a long way. The act of affixing imagery to people and their cultures¬†was, in the latter 20th Century,¬†awash with deep introspection, much of which has seeped away from it. What remains is Manakamana, a structuralist film that one hesitates indefinitely to call ethnography, a collision of graphic concerns and static people-watching that plies new boundaries for both. Read the rest of this entry »