Who we are
Ethnocine is a feminist filmmaking collective founded by women of color and queer-identified scholar-artists. Spending late nights in ‘sub-basement’ editing rooms, we came together in our shared passion for film, ethnography, and social justice. Now, as a collective of members spread all over the world, we meet online and in person to support each others’ creative projects, to brainstorm emerging ideas, and to develop collaborative projects rooted in experimental and feminist ethnographic filmmaking.
We produce cinematic short-format, feature-length, video installation, virtual reality (360 video), and transmedia projects. We are committed to an intersectional feminist and decolonial lens that pushes the boundaries of non-fiction cinema. Our collective members have long-term engagements to communities in Burma, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, India, Iran, Palestine, Romania, Thailand, and the United States.
Our vision for ethnographic film
We work against the colonial residue of conventional ethnographic filmmaking, including “fly on the wall” filmmaking and the fetishization of the cultural ‘other.’ Instead, we seek to create reflexive films that allow viewers to access the intimacies made possible by sensory ethnography; to move between worlds through the sensorial, affective, and corporeal aspects of everyday life.
As trained visual anthropologists, we apply ethnographic methods such as participant observation, reflexivity, and community collaboration to our filmmaking projects. This allows us to listen carefully to people’s stories and to center these ways of knowing and being in the world.
Our vision for feminist film
Over the past decade, women of color accounted for less than 1% of directors of the U.S.’s top-grossing films. In academia, women of color represent only 10% of all faculty, and 2% of tenured professors. Against the backdrop of severe underrepresentation of women of color in both filmmaking and academia, we work towards a vision where women’s perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, are made to matter.
Our work mounts a challenge to the hegemonic “view from nowhere” that results from the universalization of perspectives of straight, able-bodied, upper class, white, cisgender men. By bringing an intersectional lens to our work, we explore emergent possibilities for multivocal storytelling that account for, rather than elide, differences of race, class, gender, and sexuality; this lens also illuminates our own complicity in the structures of power inherent to filmmaking. Finally, our feminist politics also informs the value we place on non-hierarchical and non-capitalist ways of working with collaborators and with each other.
Our vision for collaboration
We see filmmaking as a deeply collaborative process that spans multiple stages of production. Essential to our practice is that we think of collaboration as always in a cycle of change and recalibration. We see failure less as a closure and more as an opening towards making films that are more meaningful and socially accountable.
We believe that, regardless of the chosen positionality of the ethnographer or filmmaker, our collaborative projects should create spaces of autonomy, multivocality, and intersubjective learning. The people in our films are more than just passive subjects; they are active participants whose artistic and political contributions are foundational to our projects.
Our films contribute to two overarching kinds of political work: shifting narratives and building movements. The first contests mainstream narratives through personal stories and accountable partnerships. The second roots filmmaking firmly in the process of movement-building, by working with organizations to shape impact goals such as preparing the ground for organizing, mobilizing new allies, or shifting political and economic structures.