Dennis O’Rourke films added to Ethnographic Video Online

News from the producers of Ethnographic Video Online:

New content has been added to Ethnographic Video Online, Volume III: Indigenous Voices, which our library owns (see ). This update contains the full filmography of legendary documentarian Dennis O’Rourke.

O’Rourke’s portfolio occupies a significant space in the canon of visual anthropology and ethnographic research methodologies. His lens has captured the social, cultural and political processes of decolonization in the Pacific and advanced the dialogue around definitions of “self” and “other” in ethnographic research and filmmaking in significant ways. The films Cannibal Tours and Half Life: A Parable for the Nuclear Age are taught in anthropology courses at all levels and his films will also appeal to film studies, indigenous studies, political science, environmental studies, cultural studies, and 20th century world history. In the coming months, we are targeting secondary content to support the teaching of these films in the classroom, including director’s commentary, film reviews, and journal articles.

The Dennis O’Rourke Filmography includes:

Cannibal Tours – One of the most influential and enduring ethnographic documentaries ever produced, Cannibal Tours explores the phenomenon of the growing tourism industry in Papua New Guinea, and in the process turns the ethnographic lens on Western mass-market culture with disturbingly perceptive insight and candor (1988).

Half Life: A Parable for the Nuclear Age – Rooted in first-person narratives, Half Life is a chilling and honest investigation into United States-led nuclear testing in the Pacific and the lasting impact it had (and continues to have) on people, now and in the generations to come (1985).

Yumi Yet – O’Rourke’s first film changed the shape of visual ethnography and set a new precedent for documentary filmmaking. An account of Papua New Guinea’s first independence day after a century of colonial rule, the narrative is pieced together through the words of real-life characters and footage of events, allowing local voices to resonate with the audience (1976).

Ileksen: Politics in Papua New Guinea – Building on the story of Yumi Yet, Ilekson is the report of Papua New Guinea’s first electoral process and a deeply dark exploration of postcolonial reality (1978).

Yap … How Did You Know We’d Like TV? – When televisions were brought to the Pacific Island of Yap, complete with the American programming and the advertising that came with them, many islanders believed it was a conspiracy to foster dependency. In this film, O’Rourke gives voices to those perspectives and the lasting impact that television has had on Yap (1980).

The Sharkcallers of Kontu – Depicting an ancient ritual whereby a select group of men undertake a journey to capture and kill sharks by hand, this film raises provocative and necessary questions about how such sacred rituals are being destroyed by Western religion, education and values (1982).

Couldn’t Be Fairer – A candid window into the often hidden side of Aboriginal Australian society, told through the voices of Aboriginal activist Mick Miller. The issues raised, such as race relations and violence, substance abuse, and political oppression, remain relevant 20 years later (1984).

Good Woman of Bangkok – A candid story about prostitution, this film is, in the words of O’Rourke himself, “ … a metaphor for capitalism, here played out across borders of race and culture, and about prostitution as a metaphor for all relations between men and women” (1991).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *