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 recording people and their cultures was, in the latter 20th Century, awash with  introspection, much of which has since seeped away from it. What remains is Manakamana, a structuralist film that one hesitates indefinitely to call visual anthropology, a collision of graphic concerns and static people-watching that plies new boundaries for both. Read the rest of this entry »

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