Friday, December 14, 2007

itam hakim hopiit

The Victor Masayesva 1981 film of Itam Hakim Hopiit film visits the culture of the Hopi that are left on the Second Mesa. This film does not contain anything about American civilization, rather the entry of the Spanish. But the film was purely to tell the Hopi story in a Hopi language and Hopi manner.

I think it is useful to watch the film in Hopi with and without the subtitles of English voice over. The story, as the article "Seeing with a Native Eye" points out, is completely led by the "complex concept of narrative structure in which the content of the storytelling is of critical important to the sense of the film."

We are shown the origin tale of this particular tribe and the oral tradition is important to pass on to the youngest generations even though they may be too young, they understand its importance. Either way there is this hypnotizing mood that the Hopi storyteller places you in. It may be the association of images and the storyteller's voice that places the viewer in a trance. "As a filmmaker, Masayesva's presence is felt. It is his mind and imagination that selects and captures images of activites and traditions that form and sustain Hopi culture."

There are questions that Faye Ginsburg in the essay "Parallax Effect" brings up that helps take a look at the film.

"Specifically, I am interested in how indigenous film and video offer productive challenges to the assumptions of the genre of ethnographic film by (1) reframing questions about the representation of cultural differences; by (2) highlighting mediamaking as a dimension of contemporary (and historical) social, cultural, and political processes; and by (3) expanding the discursive field that can bring a variety of subjects into conversation around questions raised by these media as they travel across boundaries of difference. "

I think an important fact that was not addressed in the film because of the overwhelming effect that the film has is the presence of the camera.
Ginsbury writes, "The legitimacy of one's presence with a camera in any setting (especially when power relations are unequal) should always be raised, not simply as a textual question referred to through reflexive cinematic strategies, but in social relations that are secured before a film or video project even begins." Before this she wrote, "The making of images by anyone, whether by 'outsiders' or 'insiders,' is problematic when ethical and social rules..." Ginsbury goes on to talk about how that just because one is an "insider" does not mean that there would not be a problem with their own subject.

Because there is not outside source that the filmmaker is addressing, there could be something from the filmmaker's own community that they could find problematic.

1 comment:

Patricia Leupp said...

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