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BSOS-184: Techniques of Ethnographic Film Making

BSOS-184: Techniques of Ethnographic Film Making

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

If you are looking for BSOS-184 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject Techniques of Ethnographic Film Making, you have come to the right place. BSOS-184 solution on this page applies to 2022-23 session students studying in BSCG, BAVTM, BAG, BAECH, BAHIH, BAPSH, BAPCH, BAPAH, BASOH, BSCANH, BAEGH, BAGS courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Solution

Assignment Code: BSOS-184/ASST/TMA/July 2022-January 2023

Course Code: BSOS-184

Assignment Name: Techniques of Ethnographic Film Making

Year: 2022-2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


Assignment A


Answer the following in about 500 words each. 2×20


1. Write an essay on Margaret Mead’s contribution to visual anthropology

Ans) Mead earned her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College in New York City, and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. She was both a populariser of the insights of anthropology into modern American and Western culture and a respected, if controversial, academic anthropologist.


Mead was married three times. Her first husband was American Luther Cressman, a theology student at the time. Her second husband was New Zealander Reo Fortune, a Cambridge graduate. Her third and longest-lasting marriage was to the British anthropologist Gregory Bateson with whom she had a daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. Her encounter with Bateson is described in the chapters 16 and 17 of her autobiography


Mead studied anthropology with Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict at Columbia University before earning her Master's in 1924. Boas is considered by some specialists as the ‘father figure in visual anthropology’.


Along with Bateson, Mead was a pioneer in the use of film and photography in her ethnographic research. It helped to underscore the importance of visual evidence in ethnographic research as well as the value of images in conveying cross-cultural information to the public. Not only was Mead one of the earliest anthropologists to integrate visual methods into her research, but she was also one of the first anthropologists to focus on the study of visual communication, including nonverbal communication, kinesics, and proxemics, and she pioneered teaching anthropology courses on culture and communication.


Drawing upon her experiments among the Arapesh made before the 1930s, Mead came up with a system of "running field notes", essentially a chronological narrative of observations. Each photography was noted in this record, with its place in the ongoing social action, as well as the photographer's relative position. The running field notes were supplemented with a daily diary in which were recorded all the different kinds of activities in the field: photography, events ob- served, births and deaths, illnesses, letters and visits, etc. Although parts of this system of record keeping were present from the start, it was not until 12 May 1936 that the scenario method was begun, and not all these categories were noted in all notes.


Mead and Bateson arrived in Bali in March 1936 for a two-year stay during which they innovated their use of photography and film as ethnographic media. In the Bali research Mead was responsible for much of its substantive focus, as well as its vast scale and level of detail, while Bateson took all the pictures, devised innovative forms of notes, and did most of the final photo analysis. Their stay generated a prodigious amount of data, including about 25,000 photographs and 22,000 feet of film.


In June 1936 they moved to Bajoeng Gede, a small village in the mountains. In March of 1938, feeling the need for comparative material, they returned to Bateson's former field site among the latmul on the Sepik River in New Guinea. Here over eight months they shot about 8,000 stills and 11,000 feet of film, searching for material that could match their Balinese data. Around 1950 Mead returned to the material, assembling another photographic study and a series of six films made by Bateson.


2. Discuss the nature of Participatory Documentary

Ans) Participant observation has been promoted by anthropology and sociology as a method for studying people's daily lives. The filmmaker must spend a lot of time in the field and merge with the subjects being observed in order to do participant observation. The researcher must be able to retain objectivity and a sense of separation from the subjects of their observations. In the observational mode, we noticed that the presence of the filmmaker is almost completely ignored, and it is assumed that the presence of the filmmaker has no bearing on or effect over how individuals interact.


In participatory mode, the director is in front of the camera and merges with the subjects being captured. The director is in no way concealed as he works in the poetry method with abstractions, the expository mode with voice overs, and the observational mode with a fly-on-the-wall style. In the 1960s, when synchronous sound recording was made practicable, this approach gained popularity. When the person is being interviewed by the filmmaker, this style is frequently used. The spectator gets a sense of what it's like to be a part of the filmmaking process through it.


An illustration of this type of movie is Ross McElwee's 2011 film Photographic Memory. The film depicts the trials and tribulations of a child growing up into an opinionated adolescent, as well as interactions between the director and his son. Other examples include Portrait of Jason and the Chronicles of Summer by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin. The Man with a Movie Camera by Dziga Vertov. This method of filmmaking was embraced by the cinema and the cinéma-vérité movements or true cinema.


This method of filmmaking is credited to Jean Rouch and was influenced by Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov. The director has the option to appear in front of the camera and even incite the subject through a stylized exchange. Every time, the camera's function is acknowledged. The viewer has a better understanding of what it's like to bargain with the subject and the filmmaker. We can tell who is in charge.


The scenario can also be staged by the filmmakers. For instance, Rouch describes an occasion when a French Jew who was deported to Germany during World War II recounts her experiences using a small, portable sound recorder in Chronicles of A Summer, 1961. Rouch observes that it nearly seems as though the camera is not there when it follows her from a distance. Another method of filming might be one in which the director's voice provides the primary viewpoint, as in the 1970 movie Sorrow and Pity, for instance. The director might also act as an investigative journalist or even be contemplative and receptive. In a reflective state, the filmmaker could also shift into a diary or a personal testimonial form. In the participatory style, interviews are another possibility. A single plot could be created by the filmmaker using excerpts from various interviewees. One example is Eyes on


Thus, in the participatory approach, we are able to discuss a wide range of subjects, ranging from providing us a sense of history to the interviewer's own endeavour to do so or as sense of their contacts with their immediate environment.


Assignment B


Answer the following questions in about 250 words each. 3×10


3. What are the ethical challenges to documentary film makers?

Ans) Documentary filmmakers identify as creative artists for whom ethical behaviour is at the core of their endeavours, according to Aufderheide, Jaszi & Chandra. Because of two factors, filmmakers frequently do not feel obligated to safeguard their subjects: First, they think the subjects have harmed themselves. Second, some of them, like famous people or business leaders with their own public relations departments, have direct access to the media.


The manipulation of specific facts, scenes, and picture meanings is frequently justified by filmmakers in connection to the audience because they believe it makes a tale more compelling and ensures that the primary ideas are understood as accurately as possible. However, a poll revealed that, in general, two areas were where filmmakers felt frustrated. They start with a lack of norms and clarity in ethical behaviour. Second, most filmmakers are acutely conscious of the ethical implications of their work as well as the social and economic forces that they are subject to.


Documentary Filmmakers and Ethical Challenges


Aufderheide, Jaszi, and Chandra, n.d. note that, in contrast to journalism, documentary filmmaking has traditionally been viewed as a mostly individual and freelance endeavour. When working for prominent organisations like Discovery, National Geographic, and PBS, also known as The Public Broadcasting Service Inc., some of these organisations may require filmmakers to abide by standards and practises as well as ethics codes that are derived from print journalism and broadcast news. Nevertheless, "documentary filmmakers have mostly relied on individual judgement, assistance from executives, and sporadic conversations at film festivals with regard to the observation of norms and ethics and even independent fact checking.


4. What do you understand by the term ‘male gaze’? Give suitable examples.

Ans) According to Laura Mulvey's Male Gaze hypothesis, a heterosexual man's perspective on women in the media. Women are portrayed as men's passive objects of desire. Women are confined to their realm because they are expected to identify with objectified and passive pictures of themselves, according to her analysis of the cinema's system of representation, which gives men the dominating spectator position and the implicit viewer role of the "carrier of the glance." There are three perspectives on this theory: 

  1. How guys view females.

  2. How females view themselves.

  3. How females view females.


The male gaze is frequently seen in close-ups of women taken from a man's shoulder. These images focus exclusively on a woman's body. For instance, in these commonly occurring movie sequences, a man can be seen watching a woman passively. By identifying with the male, the Male Gaze suggests that the female observer must experience the narrative secondary. Man has a responsibility to "act," whereas women merely show up or exist. The female is shown as a passive object for the male gaze in order to symbolise the dominant-male and dominated-female dynamics. The audience accepts the social portrayal of the dominant male and the dominated female because it adheres to patriarchal gender norms. These preconceptions are supported by mainstream film. These preconceptions also have an impact on how women look at themselves and other women.


According to the acceptance of both male and female audiences, movies with the male gaze are regarded as being more significant. Additionally, it results in financial success. The same is true for how sports are televised and portrayed. Only a select few sports are considered entertainment. Women athletes who play sports that are socially taboo, such as rugby, softball, volleyball, hockey, and basketball, are ignored. While activities like swimming, tennis, gymnastics, golf, and figure skating are considered "socially acceptable" sports. The media ignores and neglects the former because they include power and hostility. The latter are broadcast more frequently and are thought to be more acceptable.


5. What is Culture Industry?

Ans) The term culture industry was coined by the critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer and was presented as critical vocabulary in the chapter "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment, wherein they proposed that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods—films, radio programmes, magazines, etc.—that are used to manipulate mass society into passivity.


Consumption of the easy pleasures of popular culture, made available by the mass communications media, renders people docile and content, no matter how difficult their economic circumstances. The inherent danger of the culture industry is the cultivation of false psychological needs that can only be met and satisfied by the products of capitalism; thus, Adorno and Horkheimer especially perceived mass-produced culture as dangerous to the more technically and intellectually difficult high arts. In contrast, true psychological needs are freedom, creativity, and genuine happiness, which refer to an earlier demarcation of human needs, established by Herbert Marcuse.


Theory is concerned with the production of cultural content in capitalist societies. It critiques the extortionate nature of cultural economies as well as the apparently inferior products of the system. Horkheimer and Adorno argue that mass-produced entertainment aims, by its very nature, to appeal to vast audiences and therefore both the intellectual stimulation of high art and the basic release of low art.[5] The essay does not suggest that all products of this system are inherently inferior, simply that they have replaced other forms of entertainment without properly fulfilling the important roles played by the now-defunct sources of culture.


Assignment C


Write a note on the following in about 100 words each. 5×6


6. Cinema – verite

Ans) Cinema – verite is a style of documentary filmmaking developed by Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch, inspired by Dziga Vertov's theory about Kino-Pravda. It combines improvisation with use of the camera to unveil truth or highlight subjects hidden behind reality. It is sometimes called observational cinema, if understood as pure direct cinema: mainly without a narrator's voice-over. There are subtle, yet important, differences between terms expressing similar concepts.


Direct Cinema is largely concerned with the recording of events in which the subject and audience become unaware of the camera's presence: operating within what Bill Nichols, an American historian and theoretician of documentary film, calls the "observational mode", a fly on the wall. Many therefore see a paradox in drawing attention away from the presence of the camera and simultaneously interfering in the reality it registers when attempting to discover a cinematic truth.


7. Thick and Thin description

Ans) Both the written word and the movies have the same problem. The storey was partially captured on camera as it happened, but in order to give it structure, it had to be built to fit into an anthropological paradigm. Hastrup Kirsten explains how what is seen in images and films—a thin description—has to be complemented by a thick description, i.e., it needs to be culturally contextualized—using Clifford Geertz's concept of thick and thin description. The assistance of a spoken or written narrative in the movie could be used for this. It is necessary to contextualise observed behaviour in a text using anthropological ideas.


8. Oral history

Ans) Oral histories are memories of earlier events in a person's life as related by that person. Usually, family members, historians, archivists, or others gather these accounts through interviews with old people. It is believed to be an effort to save historical figures and events that could otherwise be lost to the passage of time. Indeed, oral histories are significant. However, we must keep in mind that if we use memories as our primary sources, they are often seen as being inadequate. Most historians agree that throughout the years between the events and the recounting of them, people may be influenced by other people's narratives, books, or even films about the relevant events. It is also believed that reports are frequently regarded as more reliable the closer in time they are to the events that are recounted.


9. Dynamic shot

Ans) Shot is a crucial component of visual language that helps you tell your tale in a movie. Each kind of shot has a distinct function and value. Use the right shots to help your audience feel more involved in the storey. The incorrect choice of shots can disrupt an engaging storey and divert the audience. On the basis of how the camera moves, every form of cinema shots can be divided into two major categories. Static shot and dynamic shot are the names given to them.   The moving camera takes dynamic pictures. It will be deemed a dynamic shot if you move your camera while recording the shot. For instance, when two individuals are arguing fiercely in your picture, the camera pans to the left to reveal the presence of a few more people. The shot will be counted as dynamic.


10. Camera movement

Ans) Camera movement is the term for a camera's movement while it is recording a shot. It plays a significant role in the visual language. It aids in narrative development and audience participation. Additionally, camera movements can enhance or evoke emotions in a shot. Movement style and pace both contribute to the meanings that are created. In filmmaking, camera movements are crucial, so you should be familiar with the most prevalent ones. Different kinds of camera movements can produce dramatic shots. Several significant camera motions are as follows:

  1. Pan

  2. Tilt

  3. Pedestal

  4. Dolly/Track

  5. Zoom

  6. Truck

  7. Arc

  8. Crane movements

  9. Handheld camera movements

  10. Movements with the help of camera stabilizers

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