Screening Room: Winter 2016 Calendar

Cultural Anthropology and the Visual and New Media Review are pleased to announce the Winter 2016 calendar for our Screening Room series. For two weeks each month, we will feature the following documentaries/media ethnographic projects. Each post will be accompanied by interviews with filmmakers, commentary from scholars, material related to the research behind these film projects, and other classroom resources.


Directed by Daniel Lema

February 1, 2016 (Ongoing)

From Daniel Lema’s Griot.

Griot is a thirty-minute documentary, filmed in 2014 by Daniel Lema and produced as part of the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester. The film explores the work of Kevin Dalton-Johnson, an international artist who deals with issues of memory and identity through clay. Lema’s film is mostly observational and stands out because of its emphasis on forms of nonverbal communication and exploration.

The Absent Stone

Directed by Sandra Rozental and Jesse Lerner

February 20– March 6, 2016

From Sandra Rozental’s Absent Stone.

In 1964, the largest carved stone in the Americas was moved from the town of San Miguel Coatlinchan, in the municipality of Texcoco, to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, in an impressive feat of engineering. The extraction of the monolith, which represents the pre-Hispanic water deity Tlaloc, set off a rebellion in the town and led to the intervention of the army. Today the enormous stone, now upright, is an urban monument; it has been transformed into one of the principal icons of Mexican national identity. The inhabitants of Coatlinchan insist that the removal of the stone has caused droughts. Representations and replicas of the absent stone appear in the village and the memories of the inhabitants. Using animations, archival materials, and contemporary encounters with the protagonists of the stone’s relocation, this documentary film explores the relevance of the ruins of the past in the present day.

Peasant Family Happiness

Directed by Jenny Chio

March 18– April 1, 2016

From Jenny Chio’s Peasant Family Happiness.

This ethnographic film depicts the everyday experience of “doing tourism” (搞旅游) in two rural ethnic tourism destinations in contemporary China: Ping’an and Upper Jidao villages. Focusing on the perspectives of village residents, this film portrays how modern rural Chinese negotiate between the day-to-day consequences of tourist arrivals in their home villages and ideal projections of who they are and what their lives can achieve through tourism development.

Frontera!: Revolt and Rebellion on the Rio Grande

Directed by John Jota Leaños

TBA 2016 (Ongoing)

From John Jota Leaños’s Frontera!.

The Pueblo Revolt had to happen. Life was out of balance. Drought, hunger, colonial violence, and religious persecution brought indigenous societies of New Mexico to the brink of collapse. The Pueblo people orchestrated the unthinkable: a pan-Indian uprising that successfully expelled the Spanish occupiers from the entire Rio Grande region and led to an indigenous cultural and social renaissance. This documentary animation traces the seminal events and colonial entradas that have shaped the deeply contested territories of the U.S.–Mexico borderlands. Native and Chicana narrators recall this living history through memory, play, humor, and song.

Cast in India

Directed by Natasha Raheja

May 18 - June 1, 2016

Natasha Raheja, "Cast in India." March 2, 2016 via .

Iconic and ubiquitous, thousands of manhole covers dot the streets of New York City. Enlivening the everyday objects around us, this short documentary is a glimpse of the working lives of the men behind the manhole covers in New York City.